Columbus Announces Historic Investment into Fight Against Homelessness

March 6, 2024

As the City continues to work with partners to address a growing housing and homelessness crisis, Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and City Council President Shannon G. Hardin today announced a historic investment of $9.4 million investment in the Community Shelter Board (CSB), nearly tripling the City’s yearly funding in combatting the homelessness crisis. This investment from the Federal ARPA fund is in addition to the $5.5 million allocation in the 2024 Operating Budget that brings this year’s City investment with CSB to a total of $14.9 million.

“Since 2020, the City has invested more than $50 million with CSB to combat the impacts of COVID and a shrinking number of housing units on our most vulnerable population,” said Mayor Ginther. “Homelessness is a complex issue and not one the City can fight alone. It impacts the county as well as our businesses. We need our public and private partners in the region to step up so we can provide safe shelter for those living on the land today, and also get ahead of the growing issue in the future.”

A 2023 point-in-time count showed Columbus’ homeless population increased by 46%, with a 22% overall increase in residents in shelters and non-traditional housing. That’s an all-time high for Franklin County. Focus Strategies, a national research firm, predicts that the housing affordability crisis in Columbus and Franklin County will drive an 86% increase in unsheltered homelessness by 2028. 

“We’ve reached a critical point in our fight to provide affordable housing for our neighbors and we are calling on the private and public sector to join us in working with CSB,” says Council President Shannon Hardin. “Columbus has reached the stage in its growth when our housing crisis is becoming a homelessness crisis, and big city problems require big city solutions." 

Community Shelter Board is a non-profit organization that leads a coordinated, community effort to make sure that every resident has a place to call home. As the system leader for the prevention of and response to homelessness in Central Ohio, CSB funds and coordinates care across 16 partner agencies providing outreach, homelessness prevention, emergency shelter, and housing programs to help low-income families and single adults facing homelessness in Columbus and Franklin County regain housing stability.

“This funding is essential for our shelter partners to bridge budget shortfalls and address rising costs due to inflation,” said Shannon TL Isom, President & CEO of Community Shelter Board. “Frontline responders in shelters are crucial in providing around-the-clock support, safeguarding public health, and serving as a safety net for our community.”

With these resources, CSB will be able to better fund the services delivered by their affiliates, including investing in staffing at shelters, which have been at capacity for much of the winter. They plan to prioritize decreasing homelessness among families and pregnant women. 

“We have a workforce crisis in the human services sector,” said Councilmember Melissa Green. “Those who serve the homeless should not have to live on the verge of homelessness themselves.”