New Directions helps influx of newly homeless during COVID-19

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – New Directions of Horry County is helping people who would otherwise be homeless buy bus tickets to live with their families during the coronavirus outbreak.

The shelter has had an influx of people calling asking for help since the city of Myrtle Beach ordered hotels to stop booking new reservations because of the coronavirus.

“Since the hotels closed, we have had several calls, not so much people looking for shelter, but people asking the questions, ‘What do we do now? Where do we go now,'” Kathy Jenkins, Executive Director of New Directions said.

Over the past two weeks, New Directions has helped around 20 people travel home by bus or plane. The organization’s bus ticket program is typically reserved for clients of New Directions, however, Jenkins says they’ve made exceptions as the need has grown.

“We have expanded it, because we do recognize that there is a lot of different need in the community right now. We’re trying to do everything we can to help people who are in need,” Jenkins said.

In addition, New Directions is making changes to keep current clients safe during the pandemic, like practicing social distancing in the shelters and reserving space in the case of a potential quarantine.

Jenkins says more people could become homeless as a result of the coronavirus impacts, so the shelter is working to prepare for that possibility.

“We help (our clients) get jobs, we help them overcome the barriers that cause them to be homeless in the first place, so even that is a little bit at a standstill, so we’re potentially looking at longer stays for the people who are already with us, and I think we’re looking at a potential increased need once this is all over,” Jenkins said.

The organization is currently working to expand its men’s shelter, which will cost $500,000, but Jenkins says it needs to find the money before construction can begin.

To make a donation to New Directions, or to learn more, click here.

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