POPS’ BARNES STATEMENT- Columbus and Homelessness
How to care for its homeless population is a problem that every city has had to face, and Columbus is no exception. Throughout the years here in Columbus, many organizations have worked to ease the many hardships that the homeless have. The Homeless Resource Network, Open Door, The House of Mercy, Valley Rescue Mission and The Salvation Army are just some of the organizations that have steadily been there over the years for the homeless.Those organizations did a marvelous job, but it was eventually recognized that to truly reduce the number of the homeless individuals in Columbus, the city must be involved in the process and continue the work currently being done.
In 2009, Mayor Jim Wetherington asked the Cunningham Center on Leadership Development to conduct a study to determine what was needed to reduce or end homelessness in Columbus. That was the beginning of the City’s 10 year plan to end homelessness. The Cunningham Center contacted various individuals in the community to partner with the City in this venture.Individuals from all strata of the socio-economic, business and political areas were asked to be on a committee and the beginning of a public private partnership with the goal of reducing or ending homelessness in Columbus was formed.
When Mayor Tomlinson became Mayor, a trip to Oklahoma City was sponsored by the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce to see their homeless one- stop shop resource center; At a one-stop center, the homeless can be triaged and all their needs prioritized. Over the years this one stop model as well as many models and best practices were reviewed and studied by the committee. Over the years Christie Bevis was chosen as the Executive Director of Home For Good: The Alliance to End Homelessness and she has done a phenomenal job in steering the city towards its goal of reducing or ending homelessness.
Recently, Christie introduced us to the Zero:2016 initiative where 13 communities have resolved to be on track to essentially be in a position to meet the housing needs of the chronically homeless to include the veteran population. Columbus is one of those communities. they will be at “Functional Zero” for the homeless veteran population by end of 2015 and for the chronic homeless by the end of 2016. What GREAT NEWS and what an achievement this will be. This is a testament to all of the hard work that Christie and the Home For Good: The Alliance to End Homelessness committee, the many community partners have done as well as the support of the Mayors and the City.