FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Nine homeless shelters across the Pee Dee officially announced the public release of the Florence mayor's No One Unsheltered Project.
The new initiative is a collaboration between nine participating shelters to ensure that anyone in need of emergency shelter is not turned away.
"One of the biggest things is it's a doorway to multiple services offered by multiple organizations, so comprehensively we can do more together than any individual organization can do by itself," Bryan Braddock, executive director of House of Hope, said.
Braddock said there's around 400 to 500 people homeless on any given night.
Gloria Bethea, a current guest at House of Hope Community Center, said if not for No One Unsheltered, she would be a part of that number.
"When it gets a certain time for people to go home, you know I didn't have a home to go," Bethea said.
Bethea said she's been homeless on and off for most of her life and knows first-hand of what's it's like to have nowhere to go.
"I've actually lived on the street because a lot of them you have to be there by a certain time and it's like first come, first serve," she said.
Shelters have turned her away numerous times, leading her to nights sleeping in abandoned buildings with broken glass windows in the freezing cold. Last month, when she came to Hope of House, it was a different story.
"One thing different about this place, even if the beds are filled, they have cots," Bethea said. "I think even if you have to mount it on the floor, they don't turn you away. You have somewhere to stay. It's beautiful."
Around this time, when temperatures can drop below freezing, Braddock said there's a spike in those that need shelter.
"That's a health crisis issue. I mean, people can go into hypothermia," Braddock said. "There is a risk to health and well being, so during this time, during the winter months, it's not just meeting a need just so someone has a shelter, it's meeting a health safety need so someone doesn't die of exposure."
He added that House of Hope and other shelters are looking to expand and build news facilities. The project unofficially launched in July. Since then, over 100 people have been given shelter.