With foreclosure and unemployment rates still high, the homeless problem is growing on the Grand Strand. The most recent available survey results showed there were 1,061 homeless persons in the Horry County in 2009, with a shortage of 627 beds to serve them. A separate survey counted 612 homeless school students in the county.
One of the under represented demographics of those homeless in the area seemed to be those ages 16-22, too old to be considered children and, in some cases, too young to be considered adults. There are over 50 agencies in the county to serve the homeless, and only one drop-in center, Project Lighthouse in Myrtle Beach, specifically dedicated to that young adult demographic.
Program director David Palinski help runs the drop in center he says that over the past ten years, he hasn't seen a big change in the number of homeless young adults.
"The numbers haven't changed much. The situations have changed," he says.
When we were trying to decided on how and if this was I story, I stopped by Project Lighthouse one Thursday morning in March to meet with David and see just how large this demographic was in Myrtle Beach.
Within about 20 minutes of being there, an 18-year-old couple walked into the center. They had been sleeping in local parks for about three days, and hadn't eaten any food. This pass through, Palinski said, was something that happens all the time.
That was when I knew we had a story.
For a three month period, I began spending time at Project Lighthouse and came to meet several of the area's local young adults that are dependent on the drop-in center's service. We gave some of the teens small flip cameras, and saw some very intimate moments of their life. Each of the youths we interviewed are only identified by a first name or nickname that they go by, to protect their privacy.
We'll add the video for part two of this story this evening, after it airs on NewsChannel 15 at 6:00 p.m.