Myrtle Beach community leaders meet to discuss homelessness

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – There are over 1,000 homeless people in Horry County, and over 900 of them are in Myrtle Beach.

Wednesday, several City of Myrtle Beach officials met with several dozen church leaders and a number of other community members to discuss the issue of homelessness in Myrtle Beach.

New Directions, a nonprofit umbrella organization that has three locations for the homeless, put out a call to the church's to help finish the second level of their Street Reach Ministries. They received a $60,000 grant from the city but estimated that roughly $140,000 would be needed to complete the second floor.  This would create space for an additional 120 people in the shelter, and more showers.

Their request was met with mixed response.

One church leader pledged support. Many were skeptical. The executive director of another nonprofit in Myrtle Beach voiced concern that if churches focus on donating to New Directions, his and other local nonprofit's could suffer because of it.

Cathy Jenkins is the Executive Director of New Directions. She said they want all groups to work together.

Mayor John Rhodes said, "There are issues that are affiliated with the homeless, and we want to try to figure out how we go about solving some of that problem, but also making sure that we help the homeless with their issues that they have."

An issue raised by the city was that with the Myrtle Beach economy relying heavily on tourism, the issue of homelessness is a big concern for families who visit.  All sides pointed out that, while there are many resources for the homeless in Myrtle Beach, there are also some who don't want to be helped.

Rhodes said Wednesday's meeting between the city and church leaders was the first of its kind. Well over 60 members of the community came out to voice their opinion and listen to the city.

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