City of Columbia brainstorms low income resolutions

Nov 14, 2013

Credit City of Columbia

In a rapidly growing city like Columbia, it can be hard for everyone to find adequate housing to meet their needs. That's why Columbia organizations are coming together -- to formulate how they can help people understand their rights and secure safe housing.

Community representatives met Tuesday to discuss fair housing choices -- and its barriers. They also looked into how these issues could be resolved. Participants brainstormed solutions -- in groups -- to the biggest fair housing problems their clients face. The groups brought up issues -- like low income and lack of knowledge about tenant rights -- but some said many people in Columbia lack knowledge about basic resources that can help them find better options.

Human Services Manager, Steve Hollis, for the City of Columbia, said the problem is a misunderstanding. 

“It wasn’t so much that we were seeing people denied lending- we saw people didn’t even understand they could walk into a bank and get a loan,” Hollis said.

Organizations within Columbia -- like the Columbia Housing Authority -- are working to spread the word that there are options for people who need assistance.

CEO, Phil Steinhaus, of the Columbia Housing Authority, said his organization offers several programs to help residents be more financially savvy and eventually own homes.

“We offer the Money Smart classes free to anybody," Steinhaus said.  "It’s a 10 week FDIC class that’s all about financial management, healing your credit scores and how you go about the home ownership process."

Columbia Housing Authority is currently helping about 2,000 families. According to Steinhaus, that’s only 5% of families that need help in Columbia.

The City of Columbia will continue to seek ideas from the public on ways it can improve fair housing and spread the word about available resources.