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Residents concerned about ‘homeless encampment’ underneath Ashley River bridge

Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 9:36 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 30, 2022 at 4:48 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Viewers reached out to Live 5 News sharing concerns about what they thought might be a homeless encampment at the Ashley River Bridge.

The City of Charleston would not confirm that it is a homeless encampment, but said representatives from the department of housing have been in contact with people in that area in the past.

Matt Ojala, the deputy director department of housing and community development, explains that affordable housing is an ongoing issue the city is aware of.

“We know that there are people experiencing homelessness in the City of Charleston and we know that that’s for a variety of reasons, ranging from a lack of affordable housing, to wages not keeping up with rising rents,” said Ojala.

He says many partner organization like One80 Place and Continuum-Care are helping, but the problem can’t be solved overnight.

“Over the last decade, we have seen rents increased by 51%. We have also seen wages only increased by 31%. So we know that wages are not keeping up with rising housing costs in our city,” Ojala said.

He says a contact team from the department will make a visit to the Ashley River Bridge are this week.

“That team can go out and engage with that individual or that family and start to build a relationship with them and better get to know their circumstance and attempt to connect them to services and attempt to get them into housing to improve their situation,” said Ojala.

One80 place is one of the city’s largest partners helping combat homelessness.

This January, the organization got funding from the state for a seven story, 70 unit affordable housing project that will be on Meeting Street.

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