Facility for homeless teens in jeopardy of closing

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Project Lighthouse was unable to secure a $105,000 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, and now they are forced to shut down at the beginning of the new year.

The drop-in facility on Highway 15 in Myrtle Beach has been helping teenagers get back on their feet for the past 13 years. They say they help around 250 teenagers a year with the first line of defenses when things go wrong at home. They give teens food, clothing, laundry and shower facilities, counseling, and staff that can drive them to shelters.

"I would probably be struggling for a place to sleep, something to eat and at least trying to hide from the rain and storms," says an 18-year-old teen who has been utilizing their services for the past three weeks and wishes to remain anonymous.

Project Lighthouse says budget reductions and an increase in applicants is why they did not obtain the 'Runaway Homeless Youth Act Program' grant. The grant would have been used for the 2014 year to pay staff, rent, insurance and utilities.

"The center being closed in 2014 would be a major impact in the Myrtle Beach area," says Antquan Smith, the program director.

The facility has enough money to stay open until December 31. After that Smith says they could stay open on a month to month basis if local monetary funds are enough. Smith and others have been making a plea to the public.

Our 18-year-old teen says no matter what, he plans to stay positive.

"They taught me to keep my head up, don't doubt and keep pressing forward," he said.

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