I had a Coalition membership meeting at Salvation Army this week. While all the stakeholders (i.e. Faith Mission, faith-based communities, Community Shelter Board, Salvation Army, Open Shelter, etc.) present wanted to help solve the waitlist for individuals seeking shelter, they wanted to do it in different ways. Some stakeholders believe we need to house the individuals first while others believe we need to change the political climate of homelessness/meet their other needs first. This difference in opinions created for a meeting where people were unable to create concrete solutions to the issue.
A woman who wrote an editorial entitled “Homeless Folks Spoil Santa Maria Visit” in the Columbus Dispatch received a lot of criticism from Columbus organizations addressing homelessness. The article discussed how the writer was upset that there were homeless people sleeping in front of the Santa Maria boat when she was on an outing with her grandchildren. As an advocacy group for homeless issues we felt it was imperative to respond to this woman’s editorial. On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, an intern and I traveled down to the Santa Maria and talked with two homeless individuals. We talked to one individual who was half-asleep on the cement. He told us about his recent brain injury and how no shelters have been able to address his health care needs. I would recommend the writer talk to more individuals down at the Santa Maria like this man. This will show her that homelessness is not as easy as, in her words, “direct the homeless to the shelters that are available for sleeping.”
Today I had a humbling experience when I went through the “Sandwich Line,” a church that provides free vending machine food (sandwiches, salads) and bread/desserts. They provide food to everyone regardless of state ID/income level every weekday. Walking through the line and taking free food made me really appreciate my food security.