Drop-in center discussed at Hilltop commission meeting

By Andrea Cordle
Westside Editor

In 2019, Esther Flores, with the non-profit 1 Divine Line 2 Health, asked the Greater Hilltop Area Commission members for their support to open a drop-in center for women at 2633 Sullivant Ave. Commissioners, at that time, did not grant support for the project.

At the June 1 Hilltop commission meeting, Flores again asked commissioners for their support to use the same location as a drop-in center for homeless men.

“We need to work together to help these men. We need a safe place for men too,” said Flores.

Earlier this year, the non-profit opened its center for women on the Hilltop. It offers a safe place for women to receive food and shelter and temporarily get off the street. The women may be sex workers, homeless or trying to escape abuse.

Flores said there are several homeless camps on the westside of Columbus and sees the need for a drop-in center for men.

“We are all human beings who need help,” said Flores.

The proposed location is in a residential area, near an elementary school. Two years ago, community members and commissioners had concerns about the drop-in center being so close to an elementary school. Flores reported people shouting NIMBY (an acronym for Not in My Backyard) at her when they would see her in the community.

Flores said she hoped that commissioners would recognize the work she has done in the community and put their support behind this project.

Commissioner Patrick Barnacle suggested that Flores present the proposal at the committee level.

“I recommend that we refer this to the human services/education committee,” he said. “Then we can hear the recommendation from the committee.”

Commissioners agreed to send the proposal to the committee.

Commissioner Geoffrey Phillips said the people in that neighborhood should be notified.

“It’s important to get community feedback,” said Phillips.

For more information on 1 Divine Line 2 Health, visit 1dl2h.org.

Hilltop Safety Issues

During Columbus Division of Police Sgt. Frederick Brophy’s safety report, commissioner Leah Bruno asked about fireworks. She said she has fielded calls from several residents complaining of neighbors frequently letting off fireworks in the Hilltop.

Brophy said enforcement of this issue is difficult for police. Officers must catch the person in the act to charge them with a misdemeanor offense.

Brophy said the state of Ohio allows the purchase of fireworks; however, it is currently illegal to discharge fireworks.

“If you can’t set it off, why can you buy it,” asked Brophy.

Though it is difficult to enforce, Brophy encourages residents to report fireworks to a non-emergency police number.

Brophy also reported that the Safe Streets program is up and running on the Hilltop. This program puts bicycle officers in the area and puts a focus on community policing. For more information on this program or to speak with a bicycle patrol officers, call 614-645-3660.

Commission Meetings

According to Rachel Wenning, commission chairwoman, the Greater Hilltop Area Commission will resume in-person meetings when the Hilltop Library Branch, on Hague Avenue, opens. The branch is tentatively scheduled to open in September. The library will host the full commission meetings the first Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. Until then, the commission will continue to have Zoom meetings that can be viewed on the commission’s Facebook page.

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