COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Multiple local government officials and central Ohio organizations say there is a housing crisis in Columbus.
Mutual aid groups came together Monday at Columbus City Council with a list of demands about the treatment of people experiencing homelessness in the city.
It’s an issue that brought out a lot of passion from council members and advocates. Councilmembers and the director of development said reducing homelessness is a priority in the city, advocates say they want to see a lot more.
Heer to Serve, a community organization, came to council with a focus on people without homes being told to leave land on the south side of Columbus.
“This is folks who were evicted last year from Heer Park,” Heer to Serve founder Emily Myers said. “There’s no place that’s given when there’s an eviction, folks went to the closest available place that they could and that was behind Fairlane Mobile Home Park, which is directly pretty much adjacent to where they were evicted from originally.”
This is an issue Myers is passionate about; she and members of her family have experienced homelessness. She wants to see housing options for those without a home.
“I don’t have time to wait for a meeting in a month or two months, right?” Myers said. “Our folks are going to be evicted and this whole thing is going to start all over again with people being re-traumatized.”
The mobile home park is private land and the city said it’s the property owners making the call.
“We’ve been working with that property owner to make sure that those outreach services that are part of our homelessness network, with our partners, that the community shelter board and other places, can serve those individuals and help them find a way to housing, jobs, medical attention,” Columbus Director of Development Michael Stevens said.
The Department of Development said when it’s public land, it’s different.
“When it’s on public land, we work directly with those individuals and our outreach services,” Stevens said. “It’s usually a six to nine-month process, but eventually, we do remediation of the site when we reach a point where it is unsafe or health concerns are raised, and when there’s illegal activity, we’re going to address that as well.”
After hearing public comments from these groups, council spoke on the work it has put into the housing crisis.
“In the last three years alone, the city has spent over $47.5 million on addressing the homeless issue in our community and how do we serve those residents who, unfortunately, are living on the land and need housing,” Stevens said.
Resources for those experiencing homelessness can be found here or by calling the Community Shelter Board’s hotline at 614-274-7000.