3X the number Myrtle Beach homeless teens in need since last year
There are three times as many homeless young adults in need in Myrtle Beach this year over last. Thee only drop-in center for 16 to 21 year olds in Myrtle Beach is called Project Lighthouse. It's where they get things like food, use the internet, shower and do laundry.
Zeek Ward and Dwayne Richardson sre two teens that have been depending on the center for the basics.
"Food, shower, washing machine, clothes," Richardson says.
Project Lighthouse founder David Palinksi says last year, more than 530 street youth came through the center. They were either traditionally homeless-sleeping on the beach, camping in the woods, or staying behind abandoned hotels-or sharing a one-bedroom apartment with several people.
Starting in May, Palinski noticed their numbers trending upward.
"Over the 13 years that we've been running this program here, we would see, on average, anywhere from five to eight kids a day dropping in. These aren't new kids every time, they are repeat costumers, basically. This year, those numbers shot up two and three fold. We were seeing an average of 12, 15, sometimes 18 kids a day coming through the program," he says.
Palinski thinks the increase in number comes from two things. One, the homeless are now traveling in groups, so when one person hears about the center, they all come in together. Two, more teens are coming in from small towns that see Myrtle Beach as a better place to get a job.
"I did end up seeing out of rural areas kids coming from rural Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee. Those areas where I didn't see a lot of kids over the last couple of years," Palinski says.
He worries as summer starts to wind down, so will seasonal jobs, making the number of teens coming through the center even higher.
Project Lighthouse is trying to raise money by selling tickets to the September 1 Pelicans baseball game for $7. If you're interested, contact (843) 626-1446.