Winter shelter opens to help the homeless

It hasn't been very cold yet this season, but those nights are expected to soon come. A chilly forecast can be dangerous for those who don't have homes; but help is available. Columbia's winter shelter is now open for those in need.

In the middle of downtown Columbia's hustle and bustle, folks are looking for a place to call a temporary home.

"We have folks that are working and don't get off till late, and they don't have a place to stay afterwards," said Columbia City Councilman Daniel Rickenman.

However they do now. On Sunday, Columbia opened the doors to the winter shelter. Rickenmann says homelessness is a community problem that needs a community solution.

"In order for it to survive it's going to take a community always to help," said Rickenman.. "There's always needs when you have 200 people staying in a shelter, there are always needs."

Volunteers at the shelter are hoping to address those needs. This co-ed facility offers a laundry room, food, job training and counseling. And running a shelter that houses more than 200 men and women is no small or cheap task.

"Strictly cash cost somewhere around the neighborhood of $500,000," said Rickenmann.

He says it's a small price to pay to offer a safe-haven to those in need.

"You can't really put a price on it," said Rickenmann. "I mean the reality is an emergency shelter, an overflow shelter, is essential."

Essential to help the less fortunate move out of homelessness, permanently.