City of Columbus providing $8.8 million to address homelessness
Columbus officials today announced nearly $9 million in American Rescue Plan funding for shelters and programs that support the homeless. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in residents relying on shelters. From July 2020 through June 2021, Franklin County shelters served more than 6,600 individuals, including nearly 1,200 children.
The city will provide $1.87 million to help five area shelters provide pay increases, signing & retention bonuses, and accommodate additional staff and expand cleaning services.
Another $2 million will help relocate men currently residing at the Downtown Columbus YMCA, as the facility addresses renovations and consultants identify permanent housing options.
The city will also provide $4.9 million to the Community Shelter Board for the training and embedding of mental health specialists.
"By having mental health crisis specialists in every shelter and supportive housing location, we can de-escalate crisis situations before they result in violence and harm," CSB executive director Michelle Heritage said. "We can help people facing homelessness get connected to the most appropriate community mental health resources. This is what I like to call the quadruple win, because it will do four significant things: better address the mental health and crisis needs among people facing homelessness, significantly reduce police and ambulance runs, increase the mental health workforce development pipeline, and enhance the safety for everyone in our community."
The CSB will work with Columbus State Community College and Netcare Access to create the training program. The specialists would need to commit to at least a year of service.