Perspective: WIS editorial on Columbia's homeless

Our first cold snap of the year reminded us of the urgent need for adequate shelter and rehabilitation for our homeless neighbors. WIS has spoken out about this issue before, but now there is a real chance to solve it -- if the City Council will just step up and do the right thing.

Let's face it: no one wants a homeless shelter in their neighborhood, but the harsh reality is that Columbia's homeless population is growing, and we've had no good plan to deal with it. Until now. The Midlands Housing Alliance, a visionary group of business and community leaders, has proposed and secured partial funding for an innovative shelter and rehabilitation center modeled on a highly successful project in Miami.

The Alliance chose the Salvation Army site on Main Street as the most cost-effective and efficient location for the center. City Council members went to Miami, saw that program in action, and were favorably impressed. And yet instead of endorsing the Housing Alliance proposal, Council offered up an alternative site that has serious flaws, including a potential lawsuit by local developers.

Year after year, the city has failed to solve this problem. Your council members need to muster the courage and vision to support the Housing Alliance proposal. It's long past time to get something done about this shameful situation.

That's my perspective. I'd love to hear yours.