ID cards to be issued to all homeless in Myrtle Beach

Every homeless person in the city of Myrtle Beach will soon be issued an ID card. The card program will be run by an agency that helps those in need, to make sure that dollars intended for the homeless are wisely spent.

Some homeless people on the streets of Myrtle Beach have no official identification of any kind - no driver's license, no Social Security card, no anything.

Currently, if those people come to Helping Hand of Myrtle Beach, the agency will make an ID card for them with only the most basic information on it.

But soon, everyone who comes in the door at Helping Hand - homeless or not - will get a more formal ID card that can be used at other agencies around the city.

"(The homeless) are going to be able to go, say, to the Community Kitchen and slide that card, or come in here and slide that card, or go to Street Reach and slide that card, and then we'll able to keep track of what services that they're being offered," said Tina Shuppy, Helping Hand's associate director.

A person seeking assistance at the agency will have his personal information and the type of help he's received entered into a charity tracker software program, to make a record of what's been done to help him.

One goal is to reduce duplication of services.

"Hopefully, we won't have people receiving the same thing from two or three different services. Also, we won't have folks going somewhere where they're not eligible for something," said Helping Hand board chairman Lane Smith.

Smith says only about 25 percent of those who come to Helping Hand are homeless, but the rest are maybe only a paycheck away. They need temporary help with rent, utilities or a tankful of gas.

He says anyone in business knows that the more information you have, the better decisions you make, and the ID cards will help local agencies be better informed.

And, the cards will help the homeless.

"We think that when they leave here, they'll be going to the place that they need to be going to, they'll have something that identifies them and cuts down on the red tape wherever they go to, and hopefully we end up with fewer homeless people," Smith said.

Smith says a social worker has been hired to run the ID card program, with a budget of around $30,000 a year. The program should be up and running within a couple of weeks.