Group living in homeless camp asked to leave

Property owner wants this group of people who are homeless off the land.

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WPDE) - A group of people living in a homeless camp in Horry County must be out by Friday. The property owner wants them gone and Horry County Police will enforce the no trespassing law.

Different circumstances have led a group of people who are homeless to bond in a patch of woods between Joe White Ave. and Highway 501. The camp is in a "doughnut hole," an area surrounded by City of Myrtle Beach property, but within the county. Some have camped out for more than a decade while others like Olivia Da Silva have only stayed there a few months.

"I've camped out before, but not on these terms, survival is totally different," explains Da Silva.

But now they must all move.

"We did aerial surveillance of this to make sure we could see everything and what we saw was definitely violations of trespassing," says Lt. Jack Stewart. "We've gone out and made contact with them, we've given them some time to gather their belongings, get whatever they can and leave."

That search was done at the request of the property owner who doesn't want them on the land. Stewart says they counted 20 tents near a retention pond where a woman drowned last May. One camp member estimates about 200 homeless people live in the woods.

"I don't want to move because I actually like the outdoors," says Kim Clark.

But she and others are running out of time. If they aren't off the property by Friday, they could be arrested for trespassing.

Stewart adds officers gave them a list of places that can offer help. "We're really trying to work with them rather than just throwing them out."

The group has the support of Victor Malvarez, who was recently homeless and now has a job. Despite being on private property, he doesn't want to see them kicked off. "These people have the right to squat here to live here, establish themselves as a homestead albeit as dirty as it is."

As for Clark she doesn't want to leave her dog behind. "What can we do? I mean we have nowhere to go. We have no money. What can we do?"

"We're gonna try to pack up our stuff put it somewhere that no one's gonna find it and see what happens. I have no idea," adds Da Silva.