Spartanburg seeing increase in homelessness, city taking steps to help

Local News

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Getting people off the streets is one of the city of Spartanburg’s goals.

City officials say they’re seeing an increase in homelessness.

In order to help, a 24/7 homeless shelter is in the planning stages of being built.

“We have a need and we have to fill that need,” said Beth Rutherford, executive director for Spartanburg Interfaith Hospital.

She says they’re seeing an increase of people using the Opportunity Center on Saxton Avenue.

“When we’re open, we’re averaging, between the morning and afternoon, around 140 people,” said Rutherford.

The Opportunity Center provides information on where to find resources, a place to shower, and even have mail delivered, but it isn’t a round-the-clock shelter. Rutherford said that’s what Spartanburg needs. She says a brick-and-mortar building would take a long time. Another option, she said, is a concept called Sprung.

“Where you just kind of tent an area and that looks really plausible, we’re really excited about that,” she said.

She said the tent would have everything people need.

“There’s heat, the utilities, there’s restrooms. We’re talking, depending on how big, it could be excess of more than 150 people,” said Rutherford.

The shelter would also help connect people with a case manager, to set them up for success. She said the shelter would initially start as a nighttime one and people could still go to the Opportunity Center during the day to get any resources they need.

They’re now trying to figure out funding, but the city is 100% on board.

“I know council is committed to figuring out how to make that work and the city is committed to making it happen. Because we understand that it’s definitely a need,” said Chris George, communications manager for the city of Spartanburg.

George said they’re also launching a new campaign: Challenge for Change.

“Encourage folks who are inclined to help the homeless. Who see homeless folks in our community and want to know how they can help, to help direct them to agencies and organizations in town that are working on that issue,” said George.

George said the city is partnering United Way of the Piedmont and OneSpartanburg for the program. He said there are more than 20 organizations on the campaign to get the resources and assistance into the hands of those who need them.

“The spirit of the holidays, that we would all want to think about our homeless folks. In the spirit of giving that we would want to do something to help out,” said George.

Rutherford said the next step is to figure out where this shelter will be. She said a possibility is to have it next to the Opportunity Shelter. She says the goal is to be done around summertime.

For ways to help donate time or resources with the new campaign, click here.

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