SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – A nighttime shelter in Spartanburg closed its doors Monday.
The Spartanburg Opportunity Center’s emergency nighttime shelter was started as a temporary solution to help out with social distancing and to give those who needed it, a bed during the pandemic.
“Where are we going to go? Where are you going to lay our head down and be warm?” said David Wayne Coburn, who uses the shelter.
The Opportunity Center has provided warmth and safety at night.
“Once we moved beyond that phase, the Opportunity Center requested additional time to serve in that capacity, and we granted that continually week after week, month after month,” said Mitch Kennedy.
Assistant City Manager Mitch Kenned, said the facility isn’t designed to house people long-term.
Kennedy said police and EMS calls to the area grew significantly and the location wasn’t ideal for a shelter.
“It taking place in a residential area was also concerning to us,” he said.
The decision to close didn’t happen overnight, Kennedy said it’s been an ongoing conversation all year.
“We are not happy where we are today with our ability to serve the individuals that are experiencing homelessness, but we’re not sitting on our hands,” said Kennedy.
He said they have a task force to help aid those experiencing homelessness and they’re also working on a very detailed, long-term strategy.
“We are in the process of consulting with a third-party firm. The city, county, United Way, hospital system have funded a process that will allow us to have a strategic plan for homelessness,” said Kennedy.
People who depend on the shelter are worried about what will happen to them.
“The center provides a safe environment. You come in during the day, get you a cot a night, whatever, even if it’s a blanket,” said Coburn. “You got a place to go and you’re safe for a night. You don’t have to watch over your back.”
David Wayne Coburn said he’s lived there. He’s survived there.
“I can sleep at night, like last night I slept in a tent, I didn’t go to the Opportunity Center,” he said.
He hopes the center will remain open, but if not, that there’s another solution, fast.
Kennedy said there is a place for people to go to to get resources and shelter.
He said Miracle Hill on North Forest Street in Spartanburg has a residential program that requires an intake process, as well as an emergency shelter where people can go.
“You have a bed, and they can house up to 120 people,” said Kennedy.
If you know someone who is experiencing homelessness, call 211 to help get them the resources they need.