Leaders band together to launch task force to tackle homelessness in Charleston Co.

Leaders band together to launch task force to tackle homelessness in Charleston Co.

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Local and state leaders banded together Monday to launch a new task force intended to tackle the homelessness crisis in Charleston County.

"These people didn't just become homeless yesterday," Kim Williams said. "This has always been a problem but now you can't hide it."

Williams works regularly with residents of Tent City, the homeless encampment under I-26 overpass on Meeting Street.

But local leaders say homelessness is a crisis needing attention across all of Charleston County, not just downtown near Tent City.

Charleston County Council Chairman Elliott Summey and state representative Wendell Gilliard held the inaugural meeting of the "Lowcountry Task Force to Combat Homelessness."

"You've got a lot of government organizations, a lot of private organizations, a lot of individuals who want to do the right thing," Councilman Summey said. "Charleston's heart is in the right place. But it's not enough to have your heart in the right place, you have to move the right foot in the right direction."

Councilman Summey said the county will look at potential solutions presented by stakeholders on Monday, ranging from providing permanent housing to building tiny house communities.

"This was a good forum for people to vent their frustrations, vet what they feel are problems and to gather information," the councilman said. "You can't have a course of action until you understand all the complexities around a situation."

The City of Charleston also announced plans last week to help area homeless, specifically Tent City. Those plans including cleaning out Tent City and designating $50,000 dollars towards helping residents get back on their feet. For many, that means providing permanent housing.

"What we need now is solutions and the solution is housing," Rep. Gilliard said. He's pushing forward a bill, now in the Senate, to rally state support around the issue.

In the interim, volunteers like Williams, are ready for plans to turn into actual results.

"There are a lot of meetings, we do a lot of talking," Williams said. "I think this is my fourth or fifth in just a few weeks. These people need to be housed. They need proper care. There really has to be action taken."

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