DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Some residents in the Summerville area are raising concerns about a homeless shelter that will soon be built near their homes.
The property which could be home to the new shelter is located near the corner of Beverly Drive and Miles Jamison Road. While some are unhappy with the plan, others say it’s a crucial need for many who are struggling in the community.
“Our whole mission is we engage with individuals who are homeless, who are seeking financial stability to acquire permanent housing,” explained Ginny Vicini, executive director of Dorchester County Community Outreach.
Dorchester County Community Outreach currently runs two homes on Central Avenue. “Hope’s House,” which eight women can use at a time, and “Home of Hope,” which 16 men can use at a time.
They are working to build facilities to help more people in need.
“We found a piece of property at Miles Jamison. It was ideally suited. It was zoned properly, and it was the size lot that we needed,” said Vicini.
They purchased the land in October of last year and plan to spend about $3 million building a 16-person men’s home, a 16-person women’s home, and a multipurpose building.
But the group has had some pushback from people who live in the community. They said a homeless shelter in a largely residential area is not a good idea – there is no public transportation and very few public services.
“We hope that we have been as responsive; I know that we’ve been as responsible as we could be,” Vincini said.
The group met with neighborhoods and are attempting to be annexed into the Town of Summerville to have access to Summerville services.
The property is zoned for use as a shelter whether it is annexed or not. Summerville Town Council is expected to take up the annexation on March 9th.
So far, 843 people have signed an online petition against the shelter opening.
People who live near the property didn’t want to talk on camera Tuesday. They said they were not told about the property use before it was purchased. Several people said they are tired of this, and they don’t believe the outcome is going to change either way.
Vicini says they do background checks on their residents. “Our criteria for coming into our program — someone who is capable of managing your day-to-day life. Going to work, maintaining the property. We have a curfew at 8 o’clock at night. We have staffing 24/7.”
After hearing the public’s concerns about a proposed warming or cooling shelter at the site, they have decided not to provide that service.
Officials said they hope to have the men’s shelter finished later this year and the women’s shelter would be opening sometime in 2024.