COLUMBIA, S.C. (SCRN/WVOC) - A new study finds the number of homeless in our state more than expected.
The South Carolina Coalition for the Homeless conducted a "point in time" study in January to see how many people it could count as either homeless or "unsheltered" on a single night – meaning they are living in cars, camps, or in buildings.
Coalition chair Anita Floyd said she was shocked to see more than 6,000 people counted – some 1,400 more than during a similar survey two years ago.
Floyd says part of that increase is due to more accurate reporting in rural areas, but most of it is because there are more homeless living in the cities.
She says more than one fourth of those are adults or children living in families.
“You have this panhandler-downtown sort of stereotype,” Floyd told the South Carolina Radio Network. “Really, the experience is very much more complicated and varied than that. So, we're looking for people to get a better appreciation for how different the experience of homelessness can be across our state.”
Floyd says almost one third of those surveyed reported they were going through their first episode of homelessness. More than one fifth said they had been homeless three or more times.
Richland County had the largest increase in homelessness over the two-year period – up 42%.
(Photo courtesy of 100Things.com.au)