Columbus panel to "redirect" homeless as downtown area develops

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 27 May 1998 14:11:13 -0700 (PDT)


FWD  May 27, 1998  http://www.dispatch.com:80/pan/news/waywaynws.html


     PANEL SEEKS ASSISTANCE IN REDIRECTING HOMELESS
     By Alice Thomas - Columbus [Ohio] Dispatch Staff Reporter


A small group of men who take up a majority of the space in shelters
presents the biggest challenge for a task force studying where the city's
homeless should live, said a spokeswoman for the group.

Fifteen percent of the city's homeless men use 56 percent of the beds in
homeless shelters, said Barbara Poppe, spokeswoman for the Scioto Peninsula
Relocation Task Force.

"These folks use up a lot of those resources, and it's not like they're so
much better off because they've stayed in the shelter 500 days,'' Poppe
said.

She said it will "require the greatest political will'' to find housing for
that group, which includes hard-core alcoholics.

"We're going to need a lot of help,'' Poppe yesterday told members of the
board of the United Way of Franklin County, which has given $20,000 to the
task force.

The task force has been asked by the city to draw up recommendations for
housing the homeless who live Downtown in an area on the west bank of the
Scioto River called the Scioto Peninsula. Development in the area is
expected to take off when the new COSI opens in late 1999 and a flood wall
is completed in 2002.

The main entrance to Ohio's Center of Science and Industry will face
Columbus' most popular homeless shelter for men -- the Open Shelter at 370
W. State St., which has a lease that expires in 1999.

Another men's shelter in Franklinton, the Volunteers of America shelter,
owns its building at 379 W. Broad St. and is not expected to relocate.

Poppe yesterday said the task force recommendations likely will be very
general -- not suggesting a specific site or even a side of town for a
shelter. Residents of Franklinton have voiced opposition to keeping
homeless in the area, which is where a majority have lived for years.

Poppe hinted that the recommendation, which is not binding, will include
some kind of "supportive housing,'' or housing with social workers, in
addition to a more traditional shelter. Supportive housing could be
scattered across a large area or concentrated in one building.

A final report is expected in October.

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