Myrtle Beach homeless battle cold, city leaders seek input

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Just as frigid temperatures are threatening those who have no home to go home to, Myrtle Beach is calling on faith-based organizations to join the discussion on the issue of homelessness.

Mayor John Rhodes has invited more than two dozen area churches to a meeting Wednesday, Jan. 8 to discuss ways to help the homeless get on their feet for good.

At last count, the city says there were around 1,000 homeless people in Horry County, with the majority of them congregating in Myrtle Beach. They frequent the shelter, the Community Kitchen on Mr. Joe White Avenue for a hot meal, and sometimes the woods to pitch tents and build fires. For several years, various groups have been trying to assist the homeless.

In 2011, Myrtle Beach approved its first ever resolution on how to deal with them in the city. This fiscal year, they allocated more than $150,000 to New Directions, a non-profit that oversees shelter, food, clothing and job training assistance. But the groups say those services often only deal with the symptoms, like being cold on this January day, when ultimately they'd like to see folks get off the streets for good.

Wednesday's meeting is an attempt to expand awareness about the situation and get everyone on the same page.

"We really need to get the whole community involved in the effort of the homelessness issues, and obviously the faith-based communities are hugely important here and we really want to make sure that the leaders and pastor of churches are aware of the problem and how they can assist with this problem," said John Pedersen, Assistant City Manager.

The meeting is open to everyone and begins at 10 a.m. at the Myrtle Beach Train Depot.

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