Rapid Shelter Columbia, a transitional housing project consisting of small individual “pallet” cabins for chronically homeless clients developed by the City of Columbia, is currently at full occupancy. All 50 of the individual pallet units are occupied, according to a news release.
As of Jan. 5, Rapid Shelter Columbia has received 145 referrals and admitted 66 people, the release said. Out of 50 people currently using the facility, 79% are male and 21% are female, and 76% are 45 years old or older.
Rapid Shelter Columbia opened Nov. 1, 2022 and is the first transitional housing project of its kind in the Southeast.
“To see Rapid Shelter reach 100 percent capacity reflects the urgent need that the city has fulfilled to address the chronically unsheltered population,” said Columbia City Councilwoman Aditi Bussells in the release. “Seeing this success so quickly is a reminder that we have to be willing to try things differently and believe that change is possible.”
The program is designed to assist chronically homeless men and women with temporary shelter, case management and life-skill services. The program provides three meals per day and transportation to appointments for clients to receive services.
The wrap-around case management and life-building services are provided by specialized City of Columbia staff and on-site partners. These partners include Prisma Access Health, Lexington/Richland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council, Cooperative Health, Centre of Addiction of Mental Health’s mobile unit, Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous, Vibez Church Bible Study, CAN Community Health, Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services, the Prisma PACE Program and Fast Forward.
“Since opening, our partner relationships have increased and we are working on strengthening existing relationships and being innovative on how we deliver services and resources,” said Kameisha Heppard, the city’s director of homeless services. “We have been charged with thinking outside of the box in an attempt to keep our clients engaged.”
Rapid Shelter has one client who has been at the facility since its opening day and has now received permanent housing from a community partner, according to the release. The client is unable to work because of a disability, officials said, but staff and community partners will continue to work to help the client stay housed and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Rapid Shelter Columbia Overflow has also been in full operation since Nov. 1 and provides shelter when temperatures drop below 40 degrees or 45 degrees with rain/storm conditions, according to the release. In November and December, the Overflow was open 29 days, housed 2660 clients, an average of 92 clients a night, and provided 5,320 meals to clients.
Clients at the Overflow are provided two meals, hygiene kits, access to services on site and scheduled transportation to and from the shelter.