An annual homeless count returned a tally of 13 people — which local pastors say is a low estimate of the men and women on Chesterfield County’s streets.
The Rev. Bruce Adams of St. Paul United Methodist Church addressed the Chesterfield County Coordinating Council last Friday to present results of the annual Eastern Carolina Homeless Organization’s Point-in-Time count.
The count, a survey mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is an effort to find and survey the homeless population in Horry, Marion, Marlboro, Georgetown, Dillon Clarendon, Darlington, Sumter, Lee, Florence, Williamsburg and Chesterfield counties.
The confidential survey counted 908 total homeless people in the surveyed counties, 13 of whom are believed to reside in Chesterfield County.
“I would say that there’s probably more than 13,” Adams said. “Each year we do this count, we get better and better at our techniques of finding them.”
Adams said the count will provide information that could help charitable organizations better serve the homeless.
“Basically the homeless count is we try to reach out to these folks and encourage them, and also help communities of faith get a handle, get a grip on what is going on with homelessness,” Adams said.
The count is conducted by volunteers trained to seek out the homeless to obtain information about their living arrangements as well as offer them help.
“There are people in Chesterfield that have been sleeping in barns, in different places like that,” Adams said. “Some of them are veterans, we found that out.”
One difference in this year’s count from previous years is the addition of people living with relatives. Adams said several minors fall into this category.
He said people in this group are considered to be “couch-surfing,” though he said he personally finds that term to be a “cold” way to describe the situation. Adams said he was touched by the public school faculty members who take an interest in helping these children.
“Our guidance counselors and school teachers are amazing,” he said. “Some of them will take these children home and take them in. We have some real angels working in our public school systems.”
According to the count, seven homeless people live in in Marion County, 10 in Clarendon, 11 in Marlboro, 17 in Williamsburg, 27 in Darlington, 27 in Sumter, 46 in Lee, 60 in Georgetown, 72 in Florence and 73 in Dillon. Horry County, home to the sprawling tourist town of Myrtle Beach, counts 545 homeless residents within its borders.
Adams said that he is looking for volunteers to help the homeless and conduct the annual survey in the future.
“All of them really need to know somebody cares,” Adams said.