Long list of code violations condemns Homeless Empowerment Center

NORTH CHARLESTON (WCSC) - In less than 24 hours, the doors to the Homeless Empowerment Center in North Charleston will be closed. An order of condemnation is taped to the front door and 15 people are still living inside.

The City of North Charleston condemned the building due to multiple code violations. The notice says the building is unfit to live in, forcing its occupants to leave.

Carmen Wright has been living at the center since November and she has no idea where she will go.

"You don't know who you're hurting when you close a place like this," said a tearful Wright. "You are taking everything away from everybody. You are showing the community you don't care about us."

The center was started over a year ago but a group of three volunteer pastors as a non-profit organization. Since its inception, over a hundred people have lived under its roof.

"My heart just goes out to these people," Reverend Mae Taylor said.

Taylor volunteers a couple days a week at the center supplying food for those that live there.

"My initial thought was why?" asked Taylor. "We came into this community cause our hearts went out to this community. We're here because we care."

Kenneth Applewhite is one of the center's success stories.

"I was on my last leg. I was one of those that didn't want to live anymore. Now I'm a senior deacon at the Empowerment Center. Now, I have a full time job," Applewhite said.

The 20,000 square foot building is violating several codes. According to the City of North Charleston, on the exterior of the building the gas meters have been removed, but gas lines still exist throughout the building. There are also broken, cracked and boarded windows.

Other violations include:

  • Water damaged attic floor is weak and unsafe
  • Damaged insulation in attic
  • Exposed, frayed electrical wiring in attic
  • HVAC Equipment is in disrepair
  • Stair landing is a trip hazard and in disrepair
  • Weak deteriorated wall, damaged sheet rock on left entering door in reception area
  • Non-working central heat, no approved heat source in reception area
  • Ceiling is collapsing and has water damage in kitchen
  • No exhaust for stove
  • Plumbing under kitchen sink is not properly sealed/caulked
  • Exposed electrical under kitchen counter
  • Weak, water damaged flooring on left side of office
  • Exposed electrical at light switch by door exiting into front hall area of conference room
  • Unapproved source of heat (electric space heater) in sleeping room
  • No Smoke Detector in sleeping room
  • Frayed electrical wiring in closet in sleeping room
  • Broken window with loose glass, hard to open in sleeping room

At 10 p.m. Friday, the doors to the Empowerment Center will be locked, leaving its occupants back on the streets.

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