Columbus Township and Love Chapel are partnering to create a 35-bed homeless shelter in Columbus. They received approval from the Columbus Board of Zoning Appeals to use a vacant township fire department maintenance facility at 421 S. Mapleton St., despite opposition from nearby residents.
That location is appealing because it’s near Love Chapel, which provides food assistance among other services, and the Bartholomew County Annex, where health services are available. A new annex will be built on the same site of the current county building, as well as the new Volunteers in Medicine clinic, which provides medical services to the uninsured.
The partnership between Columbus Township and Love Chapel makes sense because of their experience in providing assistance to the homeless. They also are members of the Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing.
Some residents have suggested through the years that the community needed a large shelter where homeless people can go. Columbus’ housing options for the homeless are smaller in nature and are focused on teaching self sufficiency. The proposed shelter would enhance the community’s ability to help the homeless.
The idea also makes financial sense.
Continuing to have the township trustee pay to put homeless people up in motels is not financially sustainable, making this the best solution possible. The township has been spending in excess of $100,000 a year for motel rooms or buying bus tickets to send homeless people to family members who will take them in.
While raising the $100,000 needed to renovate the facility will be a challenge, the critical first steps have been taken with Columbus Township and Love Chapel with announcement of the partnership and approval of a zoning variance for that location.
This is a great idea that will aid residents who are struggling and need a place to stay while they get back on their feet.