Mayor John Tecklenburg urged community leaders and officials to work towards a solution to homeless and unveiled a list of performers for the Homeless to Hope benefit concert in March at City Hall Monday afternoon.

Tecklenburg stood flanked by members of the Mayors’ Commission on Homelessness and Affordable Housing, a partnership between the municipalities of North Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, and Summerville.

The commission suggested the concert as a way to help raise money for a fund established through the Palmetto Project, a local non-profit.

“It’s time to replenish the funds a little bit and the commission came up with the idea of having a concert, an annual event,” Tecklenburg said.

Performers at the show will include Charlton P. Singleton, Quiana Parler, Heather Rice, Lee Barbour and the Lowcountry Voices choir. Charleston native Darius Rucker, lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish, will make a special appearance.

Tecklenburg related the issue of homelessness to another critical issue affecting low-income citizens in the area: affordable housing.

“Homelessness relates so directly to the issue of affordable housing in our community, because if you don’t have a reasonably priced place for people to stay … you’re not going to be able to fix the issue of homelessness,” Tecklenburg said.

The mayor supported a $20 million affordable housing bond approved by voters in a November referendum.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reported in December that homelessness in South Carolina dropped 22.9 percent from 2016. One80 place, a local non-profit that operates a shelter in the peninsula, operates 160 beds that are
full most every night,” according to spokesperson Amy Wilson.

The South Carolina Council Interagency Council on Homelessness counted about 385 total homeless people, sheltered or unsheltered, in Charleston County in a report released in August. 121 of them were veterans.

Tecklenburg pointed that, during the colder weeks at the beginning of the year, between 325 to 350 people took refuge in the cold shelters opened by the city.

“I bring that number up because that’s a number we can deal with,” he added.

Mt. Pleasant Mayor Will Hank thanked Tecklenburg for spearheading the event.

“Homelessness does not know boundaries,” Hank said. “Homelessness is a regional issue. We need regional leadership.”

When asked about the number of homeless people in Charleston who are cited for loitering or other offenses directly related to their circumstances, Mayor Tecklenburg pointed to the success of homeless court at One80 Place.

“Our express purpose is to enforce the law but to do so compassionately,” Tecklenburg said. “I can assure you [Judge Joseph Mendelsohn] is very compassionate, but there are instances where someone who is experiencing homelessness also violates the law, and they do need to be ticketed when appropriate.”

The concert is scheduled for March 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the Gillard Center Performance Hall. Tickets go on sale Friday, Feb. 16 at 11 a.m.

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