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Charleston continues efforts to combat homelessness, advocate says more leadership is needed

Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 9:45 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 8, 2022 at 4:14 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The City of Charleston says the Department of Housing sent out a team to the Ashley River Memorial Bridge within the last week to investigate a possible homeless encampment.

Back in March, viewers reached out to Live 5 News, sharing concerns about what they thought might be a homeless encampment underneath the bridge near downtown Charleston.

The city’s team didn’t find anyone there when they went out there. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of people experiencing homeless right now. Between the weather and the incoming tourism season, they may have moved.

One community activist says it’s going to take more than only reaching out when it gets bad to truly help those people in need.

“We want to connect the homeless population with resources, the problem is too many times those resources are not available,” Uplift Charleston Founder Aaron Comstock said. “Either they are depleted or not available because of such a large amount of people who are in need.”

The City of Charleston also partners with the downtown shelter One80 Place. Comstock’s organization, Uplift Charleston, does its best to deliver essentials like clothing, food and toiletries a few times a week, but he says it will take more city investment to solve the crisis.

“The one One80 place downtown is not enough,” Comstock said. “They do great things there, but it’s not enough. We need a homeless shelter in the Monks Corner area, in the Summerville area, in North Charleston. We need also possibly grants to help us get land where this could be a place where transitional homes can be built in a very economical way that we can then house them for a small amount of time they can transition, get jobs.”

Comstock urges people to have compassion if they see someone experiencing homelessness and consider helping with donations or petitioning to leaders about funding relief resources.

“We love what Charleston is doing, even though they can do more, but the lack of compassion elsewhere in the Lowcountry is just not acceptable,” Comstock said. “And the goal is to just raise awareness as we are, as other groups are, in hopes that at some point they’ll make that choice to say hey, this is something that we need to start doing.”

Comstock has been an advocate for the Lowcountry homeless population for more than 5 years. He says elected officials have a responsibility to every one of their citizens, even the homeless, so he will continue to push for investment in resources.

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