NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A shelter for victims of domestic violence is on its way in Horry County.
The South Carolina State Legislature voted to override Governor Henry McMaster’s veto of the $1.5 million earmark for the county’s new shelter. State Representative Heather Ammons Crawford and State Senator Luke Rankin pushed for the funding.
According to Family Justice Center, Horry County has not had a domestic violence shelter since 2013. The organization runs a shelter in Georgetown that serves Georgetown and Horry Counties.
It is estimated that 60% of victims in the shelter in Georgetown are from Horry County, according to Jimmy Richardson, 15th circuit solicitor.
The new facility in Horry County would also be run by Family Justice Center.
Richardson said Horry County not having a shelter for victims of domestic violence put it behind other counties in the state.
“It is vitally needed in Horry County,” Rirchardson said. “All of the other larger counties have had a domestic violence center.”
Richardson added that a domestic violence shelter was one of Horry County’s biggest needs.
“I’ve told our legislators over and over and over that more than more prosecutors, more than more police, what we need is a domestic violence shelter,” Richardson said.
Michael King is one of the many people involved with bringing a Family Justice Center shelter to Horry County. King is an advocate for victims of domestic violence.
“We’ve got a tremendous amount of people in North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach, Conway spread out [that are] really getting involved and helping us with this,” King said.
Both Richardson and King said the land for the shelter has already been donated. With state funding secured, it’s time to start planning the build.
“Hopefully we can get some plans by the next 90 to 120 days, go for the permit, and start construction hopefully before the end of the year,” King said.
Data from the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office shows the number of domestic violence arrest warrants in Horry County in May and June of 2021 declined slightly to 234, compared to 242 in the same time frame last year. In 2019, there were 195 arrest warrants for domestic violence in the county in that same two-month span. That number in May and June of 2018 was 189.
Richardson said the decrease in the number of arrests warrants issued the past two months versus 2020 is not enough to say there’s a downward trend.
“I would say it’s about the same as it was last year,” Richardson said. “We really thought that people being cooped up at home [because of the pandemic] may add to it, but it’s about where it was last year–a little bit down.”
If you are a victim of domestic violence, or know someone who is, and need help, the Family Justice Center phone number is (844) 208-0161.
You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-(800) 799−7233.