BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - With no current count, homelessness in Berkeley County has been a hidden problem. Now, the Berkeley County School District, Lowcountry Continuum of Care and others spearheading the effort to have an accurate record of people struggling with homelessness in the county.
Each year across the country, organizations and volunteers count homeless populations on one night. It's known as the Point in Time count.
According to the 2019 Point in Time report, there are 403 people in the Lowcountry living in homelessness, but Berkeley County hasn’t been included in that count.
Social workers in the Berkeley County school district have identified around 250 homeless students in the district this year alone. That’s why they are looking for volunteers to go out and count on Jan. 23.
People can also donate non-perishable food items, personal hygiene products and warm clothes to be given out during the count.
"I think it's important for people to know that we're here to help, we're not here to judge your situation," BCSD director of at-risk programs, Elaine Swain, said. "We are here to end homelessness and provide support."
She said homelessness in rural areas often looks different from what people would see in more urban areas.
"It's different because the students and the families are not in a homeless shelter," Swain said. "They're in the community whether they're living doubled up with other families or they're living in tents in the forest."
Swain said the goal of the count is to use the data toward proposing new projects and shelters in the county.
"Right now, Berkeley county does not have a shelter," Swain said." "We don't have any place, a safe haven for our students or our families to go to. We don't have a program."
Volunteers should attend one training meeting this week:
- Thursday 1/16 6:30pm - Community's Hope Impact Center
- Friday 1/17 9:00am - Berkeley Education Center Boardroom