Community, federal, state experts brainstorm homelessness fix - - Columbia, South Carolina

Community, federal, state experts brainstorm homelessness fix


A wide variety of federal, state and community experts spent Wednesday brainstorming ways to attack homelessness in the Midlands. This comes on the heels of a new report that shows services for the homeless have skyrocketed in recent years.

Thursday's five-hour session at Hope Plaza -- run by Christ Central Ministries -- was sponsored in part by United Way of the Midlands. That organization issued the new report, giving us a better profile of the people who may have nowhere else to go.

The United Way's report released showed efforts to engage the homeless and connect them to the services they need have been increasingly successful over the last three years. The number of people seen by those agencies are up 62 percent.

"Our local agencies served about 7,000 people last year. And that has increased over time, but we also know its because of increased capacity," said United Way's Jennifer Moore. "What I mean by that is those people have always been on the street, but we're reaching them now more effectively with services."

Other trends, says Jennifer Moore, a homeless population that includes more children with roughly three quarters of them served by school districts. Moore adds that many of them without permanent places to live are older than before.

"So we know that if we compare just three years ago to 2014, people who are on the streets who are over 62 which can already be a very vulnerable age for them medically, we saw an over 300 percent increase in that older age range being on the streets," said Moore.

But the report says finding affordable housing remains one of the most challenging issues for care providers.

Another related discussion Wednesday afternoon was over the Central Midlands Council of Governments as the City of Columbia and others continue to determine what they want to see in a long-term plan to solve the homelessness problem.

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