The cold and windy weather outside seemed only to underline the issue that brought together a group of prominent Greenville residents for a news conference on Friday.
The Greenville Homeless Alliance met at United Ministries to present its 2019 Report on Homelessness in Greenville County (view the report). The findings of the report, which came about as an update to the original 2015 Homelessness White paper, presented a snapshot of the homeless problem in the county over the course of 2019.
At least 3,633 men, women and children experienced homelessness in Greenville County in 2018 through 2019. Of those, more than 1,100 were school age children.
“Look out the window right now,” said Greenville County Schools Superintendent Burke Royster, speaking during the presentation of the report’s findings. “It’s windy, it’s cold and it’s raining. Imagine you’re a third grade student without a home who’s sitting in class. Are you concentrating on the day’s lesson, or are you too preoccupied by the fact that you don’t have any certainty of whether or not you’ll have a warm place to sleep tonight. That’s a huge barrier to success.”
The report’s findings ranks Greenville County as having the third highest number of persons experiencing homelessness statewide.
In order to achieve the group’s goals of making homelessness “brief and rare,” the report outlines five key areas on which to focus.
- Increase housing and exits from homelessness by adding 850 new housing options, with subsidized rent ranging from $250 to $650 per month.
- Reduce barriers by increasing collaboration, creating a sustainable fund to end homelessness, collecting data to measure progress and advocating for affordable childcare options, mental health services and opportunities for previously incarcerated individuals
- Strengthen coordinated response by exploring public and private partnerships to implement a single homelessness system of entry and exit county-wide
- Support transit by advocating for full funding of Greenville Transit Development Plan through 2023
- Impact policymaking by engaging on policy issues that affect residents experience homelessness and housing instability
At the conclusion of the report’s presentation, Mayor Knox White and Greenville County Council Chairman Butch Kirven signed a proclamation designating Friday, Nov. 15 as “Greenville Homeless Alliance Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Day.”
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