More Than 100 Homeless People Back on the Street

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The beds are empty at the Columbia Emergency Shelter and close to 100 men and women are back out on the streets in the heat of the summer.

The shelter did help some find permanent housing but city officials say there is still a great need to fix this problem.

"I think homelessness is a big issue in America and I think its getting bigger in Columbia and its going to continue to grow and we need to come up with a long term plan to help the problem," said Pastor Kerry Breen with Christ Central Ministries.

Breen and Christ Central Ministries ran the shelter for eight months.

This was the longest time that the city allowed the shelter to be open and more than 1,000 homeless people were helped.

"A lot of people got into programs and into homes so we think that we did a good job helping people with a path forward who had life controlling problems," said Breen.

The shelter also found specific needs that the city and private sector need to address when it comes to homelessness, like shelters for sex offenders and the mentally ill.

"There are no programs for the mentally ill, there are no programs for sex offenders so we got an issue that we are going to have to address when it comes to those populations and recognize that we've not built the capacity yet," said Councilman Cameron Runyan.

Runyan has lead the plan to fixing the homeless problem in the city.

He says the shelter show how great a need there is... but now its time for others to step up.

"We are going to have to have some smaller shelter units going forward. Like pods that can hold up to 20 people that could be spread around town," said Runyan.

Runyan believes we will never be able to end homelessness but we can do a better job of preparing to help those who are homeless.

"What you can do is to create a sustainable, permanent solution to respond to the needs of people in poverty and that's what we have to do."


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