COLUMBUS (WSYX/WTTE) — The City of Columbus stepped up its fight against the opiate epidemic Friday after Mayor Andy Ginther announced a half-million-dollar investment. The money will go to treatment centers and homeless shelters.
Ginther said all of the money was leftover from other projects. The money will now be used to upgrade half a dozen facilities across the city.
"We don't have that kind of cash to make needed improvements," said Vic Ward with the Faith Mission who will receive $41,000 to renovate its Milo-Grogan shelter. "The impact that it can have on the dignity, safety and just what we do every day is, I can't state enough."
Ward said the money would be used to put in new floors and add privacy walls between bunks. He said he's seen a steady number of people needing to stay there but more and more of the people showing up are there because of an opiate addiction.
"What we're seeing is an increase, that number creeping up of people who are experiencing opiate dependency, have burnt bridges with family or have lost jobs as a result of their opiate use," he said.
Across town near Cooper Stadium, nearly a thousand people on any given night will stay at the YMCA Van Buren Center. That facility will be getting roughly $80,000 to put in new flooring, security cameras, lights and an industrial washer. People running that center said the upgrades help give people hope.
"The idea is it to have them be down or have them feel bad while they're working through their homeless crisis but to create a spirit of hope in these individuals that, 'this will end. I'll get through this,'" said Clarence Dade, the operations director for the Van Buren Center.
Just last week the Faith Mission was able to get naloxone in its shelters. Ward said days after getting it, he was able to save a man's life who overdosed in the parking lot.