Midlands organization adds piece to solving puzzle of homelessness in Columbia
COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — Homelessness is an issue in the Midlands as well as across South Carolina.
Almost 70,000 families in Richland County alone live under the poverty line according to the organizations Homeless No More.
“Our mission at Homeless No More and our battle cry is ‘Homeless no more,’” said Barrie Kirk, Homeless No More board president.
The organization provides a variety of housing models from emergency shelter for 30 days to transitional housing for up to 2 years to even low cost housing with a landlord.
“They don’t have supports in place to help them succeed. That’s why we do at Homeless No More. We serve as that support,” said CEO of Homeless No More, Lila Anna Sauls.
Homeless No More has been serving Midlands families for decades. The CEO says that families experiencing homelessness often fly under the radar.
“Families are the hidden homeless. They don’t like to be counted,” Sauls said. “Any data points you see tend to be low because families are often worried they will lose their families if they allow themselves to be counted in any homeless count.”
It’s not just about giving families a place to stay.
“We are not a housing first model. We believe that families need a roof and a home but we also believe that they need soft skills and hard skills,” the CEO said. “That means budgeting classes or credit repair. We strongly encourage all of our families to participate in workshops and classes while they’re with us. We also do the same for the children and teenagers in our program.”
Monday afternoon, they added a new education center sponsored by Southeastern Freight Lines.
The company’s president says he was moved when hearing about the Homeless No More mission and plan for the center.
“We don’t want to just do daycare or afterschool care. We want to teach and educate the children and make their lives better,” said Tobin Cassels, president of Southeastern Freight Lines. “We can’t do that without the spaces. We can’t do that in one room.”
The new center is part of Homeless No More’s Putting Families First Campaign which has raised almost 6 million dollars the cause.
“These families are going to succeed because they want to succeed, do better and be independent,” Sauls concluded.