Columbia homeless "transition" center plans move forward - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Columbia homeless "transition" center plans move forward

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It appears the group leading efforts to build a new center for Columbia's homeless will forge ahead with a plan to put that center at Main and Elmwood Streets -- the location of the Salvation Army site.

In a letter to Mayor Bob Coble and city council, leaders of the Midlands Housing Alliance say putting the so-called "transition" center at the Salvation Army site must be pursued to achieve success.

Chairwoman Cathy Novinger says her group has serious concerns about obligations the city might have to other parties concerning the use of property now occupied by the city's winter shelter.

That property on Calhoun Street near the Broad River had been mentioned as a possible alternative site, but Novinger says locating the center there could expose the city to litigation, delays, a loss of both millions in funding and moral support of the community. That's a clear reference to complaints from the Beach Company, developers of the Canalside residential project.

A few days ago, city leaders got a nasty letter from Beach Attorney Gedney Howe. He and the company accuse the city of violating promises that the Calhoun site would only be a temporary location for the homeless.

The company says it has already suffered financial losses and will seek damages.

As for the Salvation Army, its board also weighed in Wednesday. The board told the city that even if another location is chosen, the Salvation Army will continue providing homeless services at Main and Elmwood for another hundred years if necessary.

Chairman Michael Beal added that failure on the transition center project will -- and these are his words -- "further Columbia's reputation as a dysfunctional city where critical issues are interminably debated, not resolved."

Reported by Jack Kuenzie

Posted by Jeremy Turnage

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