The city of Columbia allocated $200,000 from the city reserves to Love Columbia on Monday night at the City Council meeting. According to a council memo, the funds allowed Love Columbia to purchase a property that will provide transitional housing for families with children experiencing homelessness.
Love Columbia has already purchased the property, which had a house. The organization did not disclose the property’s location in order to protect the privacy of the family living there.
“Currently there’s a single mom with three kids living there who’s just one of the casualties of COVID,” Jane Williams, executive director of Love Columbia, said Tuesday. “You know, with children home from school and unable to keep a job and just struggling to get back on her feet.”
It is a story Love Columbia hears often.
“It’s very hard after you’ve been homeless because you may owe back rent to a landlord,” Williams said. “You have also just gone through a lot of trauma.”
Love Columbia gives families a chance to save money and reduce their debt.
“Oftentimes if you can help people reduce their debt and get them into a place where they can afford ... to rent on their own, then they can move forward,” Williams said.
Love Columbia started its transitional housing program with one house in 2015. This will now be the organization’s seventh house, Williams said. Love Columbia owns the homes or they are loaned to the organization with no charge. This is possible with help from the city, a local church and several private parties.
The new location allows Love Columbia to help one more family in need of transitional housing.
“It’s just a joy to get to do this, and we’re really seeking a path forward for making this type of thing bigger,” Williams said.
Since beginning its transitional housing program, Love Columbia has helped 36 families through the program. Families that have completed their stays in the transitional houses are called graduates, Williams said. These families improved their finances and regained their housing stability by increasing their savings and paying off debts.
“The coaches and the volunteers are all going the extra mile,” Williams said. “We’re all in it together to really just make a dynamic change in someone’s life.”