Extreme heat impacts local homeless community, shelters

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The heat plaguing much of the country is baring down on the Palmetto State and is taking a toll on the homeless community.

Kathy Jenkins is the Executive Director of New Directions and tells News13, the shelters won’t turn anyone away who needs something to eat, drink or a place to cool off.

Across the four New Directions shelters, there are nearly 200 beds which are full every night as the shelter operates on a waiting list year round.

Jenkins adds that many people who come in throughout the day are not looking for a place to stay the night, rather a place they can get out of the sun for a few hours during the hottest part of the day.

Despite many of people not looking for a place to stay the night, providing more resources through the day, can put a strain on the shelter and its staff.

“The cost goes up, the food cost, the water cost, you know we’re staffed to serve the number of people who are in the shelter all the time so its taxing on our staff,” Jenkins says. “Its a lot more difficult when you end up serving a lot more people than you generally serve.”

Although the strain on resources creates an impact in the heat, Jenkins says the winter months are often more difficult as people are looking for somewhere warm to stay through the night. 

In the future, Jenkins tells News13, the organization has looked into opening a day center to help with scenarios like this one. She says there is a similar facility in Columbia.

“It gives people the opportunity to go somewhere and get out of the heat and out of the cold, to get some resources they generally can’t get, to talk to people who provide homeless resources in the housing area, counseling, physical health.”

New Directions hosts a volunteer orientation every third Thursday of the month. Jenkins says the shelter thrives from the help of volunteers, the community and donations. For information about the shelters and how you can get involved, click here

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