AP NEWS

Spartanburg unveils new day center for homeless

May 4, 2019

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) — The City of Spartanburg has another tool in place to help address homelessness.

City officials, United Way of the Piedmont, Spartanburg Interfaith Hospitality Network and Catholic Charities of South Carolina unveiled the new day center pilot program for the city’s homeless population on Wednesday.

The program will offer a variety of services and opportunities in space at the Northwest Community Center when it officially opens in July, The Spartanburg-Herald reported.

Officials said homeless people will be able to receive mail, store personal items, charge phones, shower and wash clothes at the facility. The center will also offer a central point of contact for local service providers to connect with and offer help to people in need.

“Most folks don’t have access to transportation as easily, so you need to have an access point for everything,” said Karl Rogozenski, the regional coordinator of Catholic Charities. “Most initiatives have that one coordinated place where folks can come, rather than saying, ‘Well, we’ll send you over here, and then over here and over here.’ They can come right into this one center and get what they need.”

The new Spartanburg Opportunity Center initially will use a few rooms of the city-owned Northwest Center, with an option for expansion in May 2020 to coincide with the targeted opening date for the new Dr. T.K. Gregg Center. At that point, the programs at the Northwest Center will be moved to T.K. Gregg, opening up the rest of the Northwest Center for the Opportunity Center’s potential expansion.

Rogozenski said organizers hope to expand the pilot program’s services to include larger laundry and storage facilities and upgrading the shower areas so they offer more privacy. Other potential services include a salon, a community garden, a library, classrooms and a career center.

“In the meantime, it’s not really important that we have everything we need, we just need to provide services right away,” Rogozenski said. “We’re in the pilot program to see how this really works. The beauty of it is we have that year to shake it out, and then in 2020, if we’re gracious enough to get the facility (permanently), as multiple agencies sharing it, we can really convert this.”

The new center will join other outreach centers in the Northside, including The Bridge at Green Street and Miracle Hill Ministries.

Steve Wise, missions minister at First Baptist Spartanburg, which operates The Bridge, said the new day center was a great and needed development.

“The opportunity center is targeted specifically at our homeless population, (and) we have a huge homelessness problem for a size of our city,” Wise said. “At The Bridge, they come to get help with food and clothes, but we don’t have anything targeted for the homeless.”

Tours were given of the new center during a resource fair, which connected local homeless and at-risk people with about 30 organizations offering a variety of social services like medical and housing assistance. Many organizations also offered giveaways at their tables, including snacks, soap and water bottles. Others offered a sample of their services, like free blood pressure tests by Pelham Medical Center and books from Spartanburg County Public Libraries.

The event coincided with the Carolina Panthers’ Keep Pounding Day, where team representatives served lunch at the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen. The team also gave the soup kitchen a $1,000 check and a food donation.

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Information from: Herald-Journal, http://www.goupstate.com/