Ginther Continues Active Policy to Bulldoze Homeless Encampments with no Transitional Housing Plan
COLUMBUS, OH – Rumors have swirled for some time that the city’s Development Department is preparing another bulldozing of an encampment near Williams Road on the city’s far southside.
The City of Columbus has spent more than $200,000 this year to bulldoze more than a dozen encampments. I was recently informed by a homeless advocate that a couple of months ago, city hired contractors struck a tent with a front loader while the tent was occupied by an unhoused citizen who could have been seriously injured or killed. This incident occurred at Wilson Park.
Columbus’ shelters are understaffed and far over capacity. The waiting list for those in need of temporary shelter numbers is in the hundreds. With winter approaching, where are our warming centers?
After last year’s failure by Ginther to provide properly staffed and adequate warming centers, I proposed that the city begin constructing its own facilities instead of addressing the issue with knee jerk solutions at the last minute.
On August 28, 2022, four homeless advocates and I were arrested. Myself and three others were jailed for participating in an act of civil disobedience while peacefully protesting the failure of city policy and policy-makers to address our increasing homeless population and the displacement of 14 residents of the Camp Shameless homeless encampment. City officials had ordered the residents to leave by September 1st.
On September 8th, the City of Columbus and Community Shelter Board “miraculously” announced that the residents of Camp Shameless would be relocated to a motel on the far east side of the city. City Council passed legislation on September 19, 2022 allocating $300,000 for a Transitional Pilot Housing Program to house the 14 residents. A Columbus Dispatch story on September 13, 2022 stated that a city official claimed, “this transitional housing program has been in development for more than two years.” There is absolutely no evidence of that as a fact.
Now that the city’s Transitional Housing Program supposedly has been in development for more than three years, so they say, why is there no room in shelters, let alone transitional housing for our homeless people?
Andy Ginther continues to use bulldozer diplomacy to address the needs of our unhoused citizens at a time when our affordable housing crisis worsens daily. Ginther recently walked away from $1.1 million in federal rental-assistance money that could have been used for people struggling to pay rent. In Columbus, there have been 61,199 evictions filed since 2020. In 2022, 2,311 foreclosures were filed in Franklin County, and as many as 300 homeless people died during 2021-2022.
My ten-point plan for supporting our unhoused calls for a Housing First Initiative, tiny home communities with wrap around services, short term leasing of hotel rooms, warming and cooling centers, assisting veterans and formerly incarcerated person with transitional housing, and administering a Municipal ID program among other components.
Columbus voters have a real choice in November to elect someone as Mayor that will address the needs of our unhoused and our affordable housing crisis.