Poverty and homelessness are ongoing challenges within Horry County. According to the South Carolina Coalition for the Homeless’ 2013 Point in Time Count report, an estimated 51,367 county residents live in poverty, and upwards of 3,200 are homeless annually. Though many agencies and organizations throughout the county have been working individually to address these challenges, there has been no collaboration among groups – until New Directions was formed this past June.
“The City of Myrtle Beach invited the area’s organizations devoted to ending homelessness
to come together, share resources and streamline services,” said Kathy Jenkins, executive director of New Directions. “The Homelessness Coalition, comprised of area nonprofit board members, local churches and local foundations, led to the creation of a single organization that brings all of the others together to address homelessness throughout the county.”
That organization is New Directions, which was formed through the merger of Myrtle Beach’s three shelters: Life Line Safe House for Victims of Domestic Violence, the Center for Women and Children and Street Reach. United, these organizations are now taking a more comprehensive and case-centered approach to meeting the needs of those who are currently homeless, at-risk of becoming so or were previously homeless within the county. The mission is to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness.
New Directions is in a unique position to better serve those who are or may soon find themselves in need. It has built a strong foundation through the merger of its three shelters, and also has created connections with other organizations within the county, enabling New Directions to point people to the agencies best suited for their individual needs.
At the core of New Directions’ strategy is a service model that centers on individualized case management.
“This means more than just sitting down and assessing the needs of individuals,” Jenkins explained. “It is about assessing the needs of individuals on a personal basis, and helping them navigate past obstacles that prevent them from getting out of the cycle of homelessness and poverty. It’s about helping them reach their full potential.”
New Directions identifies new clients through a variety of means. Those who frequent the shelters and referrals from other agencies, such as Helping Hand, make up a good portion of the agency’s clientele. A partnership with the Housing Authority of Myrtle Beach also refers individuals who are at risk of becoming homeless, which helps provide an early prevention measure that can be the difference between transitional housing and time spent out on the streets.
How it Works
As an overarching agency managing challenges facing the homeless population, New Directions provides coordination of services through local partnerships. It also helps prevent redundancy in services by keeping track of services each shelter resident and non-resident client is receiving.
Clients are guided from the second they complete the process of central intake, which takes place at Helping Hand. Once a client is entered into the system, a New Directions support specialist is assigned to their case and helps identify the client’s needs, whether they be related to food, shelter, education or employment. From there, referrals are made and the support specialist follows their client’s progress as they try to get back on their feet, obtain gainful employment and beyond.
Clients are often referred to Street Reach Enterprises. This temporary labor program provides homeless and unemployed individuals with opportunities to gain work experience. Jobs include providing landscaping, laundry services, and other short-term labor opportunities with the City of Myrtle Beach, several local hotels and restaurants.
For single mothers and women, The Center for Women and Children provides up to two years of transitional housing and helps them prepare for a life after homelessness. For victims of domestic violence, Life Line Safe House for Victims of Domestic Violence provides a temporary refuge in a neutral environment designed to help individuals recover and gain the necessary knowledge to better their situation. Classes in conflict and anger management, establishing healthy relationships, self-worth and financial literacy are accessible.
Enabling clients to gain stronger literacy skills, complete high school credentials, learn English, obtain citizenship and break free from substance abuse are vital in New Directions’ effort to permanently better the lives of those in need.
How to Help
New Directions recently opened a new office on Lumber Street in Myrtle Beach. Conveniently located between their three shelters, this office provides a home base for support staff and a meeting place for individualized case management. The hope is that it will provide a welcoming environment for shelter clients and those who are either already homeless or who are at risk of becoming so.
“I’m personally enjoying what I am doing,” Jenkins shares. “It is so wonderful to be a part of this new approach to ending homelessness in Horry County. I personally invite anyone who wants to help New Directions grow and prosper to get involved with helping out in any of our three shelters. We are always looking for assistance in helping support those
individuals in our shelters reach their full potential.”
To contribute your time or find out more, please contact New Directions at 843-945-4902 or Kathy.Jenkins56@yahoo.com.