Columbia homeless shelters could serve fewer people over winter


COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Columbia homeless shelters and other similar organizations are facing new challenges ahead of winter as the organizations continue to work through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Some shelters are considering taking in fewer people this winter because of changes brought on by coronavirus.

Steve Jacobs, a live-in Catholic worker at St. Francis Home, said 2020 has been a unique year compared to his previous 37 years working at the homeless shelter.

St. Francis Home is a non-profit organization that offers services to the homeless community in Columbia. The shelter serves breakfast and dinner to the homeless population Monday-Saturday.

Jacobs said staff turnover and COVID-19 concerns have led to a decrease in volunteers. As of Thursday, the home had five volunteers living in the home, about half of the usual staffing level.

Due to the decrease in staff, Jacobs said that the home will not be able to house as many people this winter.

He said while he isn’t sure how many they’ll be able to take in, it’ll be less than the usual eight people they see in the winter months.

The shelter has allowed people to stay at the facility since the pandemic started, Jacobs said.

ABC 17 News also spoke with Jordanna Boyd-Proctor, Regional Social Services Director with The Salvation Army’s Harbor Home in Columbia.

Boyd-Proctor said that due to COVID-19 they were unable to provide cots in the summer months for those looking to stay out of the heat.

The director said however, they will be able to provide cots this winter for up to 15 people a night.

Boyd-Proctor said that they already have extensive social distancing measures in place, and have measured out the cots to ensure that they will remain six feet apart.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has also effected residents, who stay in the Harbor Home longer than just one night.

Boyd-Proctor said that two temperature checks are required each day, you must wash your hands as soon as you enter the building and you must wear your mask at all times if not eating, drinking, or in bed.

The Harbor Home has relied on CARES Act funding to help some of the overtime pay, as the home has been short on staff.

The Boone County Commission was also expected to talk about potential CARES Act funding being allocated to homelessness prevention.

Boyd-Proctor said that she is all for that because, ” It’s a lot easier to keep a person in their home and resolve a situation than for them to end up in a shelter or on the streets.”

Check back for more updates and watch ABC 17 News at 6:30.



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