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Columbus officials reveal additional efforts to assist homeless population this winter


Severe cold temperatures are predicted for this week, and Columbus city leaders are gearing up to open more shelters for people experiencing homelessness.

On Monday, officials announced a partnership with community organizations to open more facilities during the day and night like libraries and recreation centers.

Columbus Coalition for the Homeless and Community Development for all People are part of the comprehensive warming plan, which aims to provide more shelter for those without a home.

Columbus City Council member Shayla Favor said, "This year, libraries, recreation centers, and designated warming sites will be available during the day with three 24-7 sites that will provide overnight warming centers.”

Favor also said this is not a permanent solution, but a step to ensure all residents have the means and opportunity to find safe and stable housing, without financial constraints and barriers.

Emerald Hernandez Parra, of the city's development department, says, "The neighborhood-based beds they are bringing online may better engage people in need who don’t typically come inside. And coming inside can be the literal difference between life and death.”

A Columbus resident named Harold says he is pleased with the shelters where he has stayed. “They feed you,” he said. “They give you a shower, things that you need.

City leaders say while this warming plan will help, it's only a first step to establishing permanent housing.

These plans will go along with the Community Shelter Board's annual Winter Overflow Plan, which goes into effect between October and March. As part of that plan, there is no waiting list for people needing housing at shelters because of overcrowding.

Anyone needing assistance can call the Homeless Hotline at (614) 274-7000. Once eligibility is determined, people experiencing homelessness are assigned to a bed.

Community members who want to help can donate to the following organizations:

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.