Since the last issue of STREET SHEET, and with the attention of the national media focused squarely on the issue, the city council of Columbia, SC reversed its unanimous approval of legislation that would, for all intents and purposes, have outlawed homelessness in the downtown business district of the state’s capital city. The plan required that that all homeless people be bused to a shelter on the city’s outskirts, and then not be allowed to leave that shelter to return downtown. This was to be achieved by stationing police officers outside the shelter and along the return route to arrest anyone trying to escape their illegal incarceration.
Thanks to the outrage expressed by communities from coast to coast, the huge outpouring of support for Columbia’s homeless community, threats of lawsuits, and the refusal by Columbia’s own Chief of Police to enforce their illegal mandate, the city council, once again by the same unanimous vote, reversed its position.
Now the issue is whether this reversal represents a victory for homeless and poor people or simply an attempt to divert attention.