Myrtle Beach Police Department leads team effort in fight against homelessness

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The Myrtle Beach Police Department (MBPD) is spearheading a group effort in the fight against homelessness in the city.

MBPD Chief Amy Prock formed the group four months ago, and more than 40 local charitable organizations are represented. The group meets once a month to generate ideas and share information.

Prock knows that the issue of homelessness in Myrtle Beach does not have a quick fix.

“We need to make a difference in our community,” Prock said. “We know we’re not going to arrest our way out of this. We don’t want to arrest our way out of this. I don’t want people sleeping on the boardwalk. Not because of what it looks like, but because I don’t want people sleeping on the boardwalk. It’s not safe.”

One of the goals of the group is to have a clear focus to make sure that each organization is not stepping on another’s toes while working as part of the consortium.

Prock stressed the importance of coordination.

“In every organization, in every profession, we have a hard time coordinating communication,” Prock said. “That is what we’re trying to accomplish. A lot of people sometimes don’t know exactly what is offered in our community.”

One of the newest offerings announced Thursday is from New Directions. The nonprofit will help anyone who is homeless renew their current or expired South Carolina ID for free. IDs can only be replaced within nine months of the expiration date.

New Directions CEO Kathy Jenkins said getting homeless people the proper identification can be a challenge.

“If they’re a client of ours with a letter from us, they can get their ID at no cost,” Jenkins said. “When someone is homeless, especially if they’ve been homeless for a while, they may not even have the funds to pay for an ID, so that was really good news.”

Having the proper identification needed to find housing or jobs is still a problem for homeless individuals that are from out of state.

“We still need to work toward [identification] because we have several individuals that are not from South Carolina, so that is another area we’re still trying to broach, and we will continue to focus on that effort,” Prock said.

The group discussed how sometimes a birth certificate is needed to acquire an ID while at the same time a valid ID is required to obtain a birth certificate, creating a difficult situation if the individual has neither.

Thursday’s meeting also focused on spreading awareness to the efforts being made by community leaders.

“They need to hear from all of these great organizations and people that care and are putting their time and effort into helping our homeless community,” Prock said.

One way the group is trying to raise awareness is by pointing people in the direction of 2-1-1. Dialing that number or visiting the website gives people access to resources to take advantage of and also provides information for people who want to help fight homelessness.

“2-1-1 is a great example of how we can work together and get that information out,” Prock said. “If somebody who is struggling with homelessness needs to get information that’s how they can get it. All of our organizations are represented through that number.”

The group’s next meeting is Aug. 19.

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