Addressing homelessness in Spartanburg

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SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – Spartanburg city leaders are working to tackle the issue of homelessness.

“We believe at Miracle Hill that the Lord loves them just as he loves us,” said Miracle Rescue Mission Spartanburg Director Calvin Vinson. 

At the miracle hill rescue mission in spartanburg recent cold nights have meant even more people seeking warmth. 

“Last night we had 44 people in our cold weather shelter,” said Vinson, adding that it was less than the usual 50 to 60 average. 

“On an annual basis we probably serve over 400 people,” said Vinson. “At any given time we’re at capacity we have 96 people staying here. A shelter for 96 beds… we do what we can, but that’s not enough.”

During Monday’s council meeting, Spartanburg city leaders got more insight into the homelessness issue.

“To prevent the circumstances by which individuals in our community might become homeless,” said Spartanburg City Manager Chris Story. 

United Way of the Piedmont President and CEO Paige Stephenson told city leaders a recent count that found 2.500 homeless people in Spartanburg County was lower than reality. 

“There are two areas that contribute,” Stephenson said. “Prevention is always cheaper than being responsive so everything we can do to get upstream not only makes sense from a financial perspective but just from a quality of life and compassion perspective.”

She says behavioral health is one of those main factors they’ve been working to address by providing access. 

“Embed telepsychiatry and telecounseling into family medicine clinics,” she said. 

Money is another factor. 

Stephenson says 47 percent of Spartanburg County residents struggle to pay for basic needs, and it’s a number much higher than the 18 percent living in poverty under $24,500 per year.

“We also have what’s called a community resource coordinator,” said United Way of the Piedmont Director of Financial Stability Strategy Hannah Jarrett. 

That’s to help people struggling financially find resources to keep them from becoming homeless. 

“It’s no longer just what we saw as older, stubborn people who wanted to do things their way, it’s now affecting our mothers and our sisters and our babies,” said Vinson. 

As part of a bigger effort to address homelessness, city leaders used Monday night’s meeting to learn about what’s in place now.

Stephnson said they want funding to hire another community resource coordinator, and that it’s also important to address transportation and transient housing.      
 

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