[image-1]The former site of Charleston’s Tent City now sits empty. Gone is the community of homeless individuals that once numbered over 100.
Of the estimated 43 residents who remained in the encampment at the end of March, approximately 30 now reside in transitional housing in the work camp facility in North Charleston. Ten others were provided money for transportation to stay with friends or family members outside of the Charleston area. The final push to empty the area along Meeting Street wrapped up Friday, but what remains is the knowledge of what can happen when the city’s housing problems go unchecked for too long.
“Mayor Riley had formed some years ago a commission, maybe a similar commission to what we’re proposing on homelessness and affordable housing, and, in fact, they have a plan that’s been sitting on a shelf gathering dust,” said Mayor John Tecklenburg during a press conference Friday, surrounded by homeless service providers, DOT officials and outreach volunteers. “The next step going forward, we will continue to address both homelessness and affordable housing in this community, and we’re going to call on partners like those you see behind me today and the county of Charleston and the other jurisdictions and our state government with Rep. [Wendell] Gilliard’s help. We’ve got a blueprint already that a very fine group of people put together. We’re going to take that blueprint, update it, and continue to address this challenge in our community.”
Since launching in February, the city Homeless to Hope Fund has received approximately $77,000 in donations — $35,000 of which came from the City of Charleston and $15,000 from the 2016 Charleston Inaugural Committee. Mayor Tecklenburg said that account will remain open for donations. About half of the money raised has been committed to transportation costs, security deposits, and rent for former Tent City residents, as well as financial assistance for One80 Place and other service providers who contributed to the city’s effort to shelter those living in the encampment.
According to the mayor, at least one-third of those who lived in Tent City have found employment, but he remains adamant that the city will continue to meet the full range of needs to assist those facing the threat of homeless.
“The best path forward to start from is just to get a stable place to live,” he said. “That’s where we start — with rehousing — and then wraparound services to help individuals get on a good path.”