New meters collecting change for Myrtle Beach's homeless

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – More meters are coming soon to Myrtle Beach, but these ones aren't collecting coins to pay for parking.

The program is called Change for Change, and while the meters look similar to standard parking meters, the money collected will go directly to a good cause. The change will be given to New Directions, a non-profit organization with the main goal of helping to the homeless off the streets.

New Directions has three branches: Street Reach, a short-term shelter for the homeless, Life Line, a shelter for victims of domestic violence, and the Center for Women and Children. The money that goes into the new meters will help the nearly 1,000 people that New Directions supports each year.

The money will go "to provide the job training skills and the support that they need to get back on their feet and get into permanent jobs and permanent housing," said assistant city manager John Pederson.

To kick off the initiative, four meters will be installed: two at Plyler Park and one at the end of 8th and 9th Avenues. The city will paint old meters a different color and separate them from current parking meters so people will be able to tell which is which.

"I think it will work to our benefit in the areas where we're talking about putting the meters this year, we do have a lot of tourists and a lot of people walking through the area," said Kathy Jenkins, Executive Director of New Directions.

The Change for Change initiative has passed through the city and meters will go up soon. The city says the next step is approval to install change bins at the airport.

Other cities have had success with similar initiatives; in the first year that meters like these were rolled out in Denver, they collected $85,000.

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