Charleston County School District helping displaced, unhoused families

The Charleston County School District is working to address homelessness in their district ahead of the upcoming school year.
Published: Jul. 25, 2023 at 4:00 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 25, 2023 at 5:46 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District is working to address homelessness in their district ahead of the upcoming school year.

Data from the district states more than 400 of its students don’t have a place to rest their heads at night.

The district will host an event called “Serving the Unhoused and Underserved” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday to help displaced and unhoused families in the Lowcountry. The event will be held at District Four Stadium in North Charleston.

Leaders with the district’s Mckinney-Vento program said they’ve put together six pillars to address how to combat homelessness in the district: education, employment, food, mental health, transportation and housing.

Kimberly Grant, a McKinney-Vento parent advocate, said being unhoused or displaced can greatly affect a student’s education.

“When you’re being displaced and you’re moving from one place to another, you sometimes can’t focus on the education part,” Grant said. “This event is going to be geared toward stability.”

To address education, the Palmetto Excel Center will be at the event spreading awareness about their programs. The Palmetto Center serves as a high school for adults who are interested in returning for their diplomas. It accept students 21 and older and offer services to reduce barriers for students, like transportation and childcare.

“Our students are very successful in not only changing their lives, they also are shown to have children who also get their high school diplomas,” Palmetto Excel Center Director Dr. Ruth Chambers-Turner said.

To address employment, SC Works will be on-site with employers who are attending this event to hire, offer interviews, and provide information.

The Lowcountry Food Bank will be onsite giving out boxes of food to families. McKinney-Vento leaders say they will also supply families with recipes and provide different locations for them to pick up food regularly.

The Navigation Center will be present as well to sit down with families to figure out their next steps.

Marie Roland, the founder and executive director of the Navigation Center, said they will address the permanent needs of housing and connect families to mental health resources.

“We do a complete holistic type of intensive case management with them to see where they are today,” Roland said. “We try to take a look at what are the things we can do immediately, and what are some of the things we need to do in the longer term.”

Transportation resources will also be onsite. CARTA will provide information about its programs that serve the unhoused population. Middleton’s Village to Village Foundation will be onsite as well and will be gifting cars to two preselected families.

“The reward is just seeing a smile on somebody’s face and knowing that their lives are going to change because of transportation.” Elliot Middleton, the president and founder of the organization, said.