New homeless and runaway youth center sheds light on issue

The new center will be a residential shelter for teens; many of whom are running away from abuse and neglect, and most of them are from local neighborhoods. (Source: Mandy Noell)
The new center will be a residential shelter for teens; many of whom are running away from abuse and neglect, and most of them are from local neighborhoods. (Source: Mandy Noell)
Sea Haven is the only non-profit in Horry County that provides services for homeless youth. (Source: Mandy Noell)
Sea Haven is the only non-profit in Horry County that provides services for homeless youth. (Source: Mandy Noell)

LITTLE RIVER, SC (WMBF) - A group helping homeless and runaway teenagers is expanding their services here in Horry County even further. Sea Haven is building a bigger, better residential shelter home in Little River Sea Haven to help teens and young adults who run away from home or choose homelessness. The new center will be a residential shelter for teens. Many are running away from abuse and neglect, most are from local neighborhoods.

Sea Haven is open to teens ages 13-17. Sometimes placement is court-ordered. Sometimes parents or family members who know the teens are on the streets refer them, and sometimes they come for help on their own.

Sea Haven is the only non-profit in Horry County that provides services for homeless youth, according to the Executive Director Christina Jackson.

"These kids do not have any support systems. Most of the time the contributing factors are from abuse and neglect, is why these children leave the streets, cause they would rather live on the streets than live in those type of situations," Jackson said. "So we know that it's important that we give these youth another chance and help them mainstream back into community as productive individuals."

That care requires space. On Tuesday morning, a team broke ground on the new facility that will enable the organization to double the number of teens that can be helped. The teens are helped back into school, to find jobs, and helped to find their way back into society. The new shelter will house up to 16 teens at one time in a one-story ranch-style home.

"Many adults don't understand what these youth have been through, the type of situations they live in," Jackson said. "Many people just see the delinquent behaviors, and that they're making not-so-positive decisions in their life. But they don't understand they don't have the support network and they don't know how to make those positive decisions."

Construction on the center will begin in September and it is expected to open in June of next year.

If you would like to learn more about runaway and homeless youth services in the area check Sea Haven's website by clicking here.

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