Dorchester community organization works to fund new homeless shelters

SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCBD) – The House of Hope for Men and the House of Hope for Women in Summerville are seeking help to better serve the community. Directors say renovations are needed to better serve those entering and leaving homeless shelters.

“We are looking to build these facilities specifically to design the functions of shelters for people in housing crisis,” said Marty Thomas, executive director of Dorchester Community Outreach.

Thomas says they can only accommodate 24 people between the two shelters, but requests continue to mount.

“There are warming centers in the Lowcountry, but there is nothing near that area and there is nothing in Dorchester County,” he said.

The men’s shelter has been operating since 2015 and the women’s shelter since 2019. Since then, Thomas says more than 6,000 referrals have been received and hundreds have entered and left the shelters.

“COVID-19 really forced us to downsize and, of course, fire a lot of people during this time,” Thomas says.

DCCO is concerned about keeping its doors open due to the 25% rent increase at the men’s shelter over the next 2 years. Thomas says he met with Dorchester County officials to help build 3 new shelters, including the county’s first heated shelter.

“We want to make changes and improvements to our building to better serve our customers, but our lease restrictions don’t allow us to,” Thomas says.

He says these improvements are necessary to keep up with the growth of the community.

“We hope that maybe the county will join us and help us make this a reality,” said Thomas.

DDCO says they are asking the county for $ 4.6 million through COVID-19 relief funds to complete this project by 2022.

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