Property owners in the Capital Crossroads and Discovery SIDs know the value of the homeless outreach program. The program takes a holistic approach to panhandling and homelessness. Ryan Jefferson joined the program last spring as a homeless outreach specialist for Capital Crossroads and Discovery Special Improvement Districts (SIDs).
The outreach role was new to Ryan, but he was a familiar face downtown. As an ambassador, he had been helping people with his friendly, easygoing demeanor since 2015. He is the only ambassador to be named ambassador of the year three years in a row from 2015-2017. Ryan wanted to do more to help people beyond the street-level assistance he provided as an ambassador. As a result, he applied for the outreach specialist position.
“I wanted to be more hands on with the homeless community,” he said.
In addition to working directly with clients, Ryan also looked forward to joining with other agencies that provide services to the homeless. Furthermore, Ryan’s interest in helping others doesn’t stop at the end of the work day. In his free time, you can find him coaching Little League basketball and football.
Capital Crossroads SID members began funding outreach services in 2003. At first, they shared costs with The Columbus Foundation. After two years, they began to fully fund the program. Similarly, Discovery SID understood the value of outreach and included it in the SID's initial program for service in 2006. Together, the two SIDs fund two full-time outreach specialists who are responsible for serving clients in an 80-square block area downtown.
That is an increase over last year, when our outreach specialists moved 83 people into permanent housing, assisted 186 people at the Main Library, assisted 317 people at the Open Shelter, secured 72 IDs or birth certificates and provided 4,160 hours of homeless outreach downtown.
If you see someone that needs help, please call our hotline number, (614) 228-5718. We'll send one of our outreach specialists to provide assistance. The SIDs regularly work with Faith Mission, Coalition for the Homeless and the Open Shelter, and each of these places accepts donations. Additionally, you can find a list of agencies that provide services to people experiencing homelessness at Columbus Coalition for the Homeless.