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Homelessness Now A Crime In South Carolina

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Homelessness is now a crime in Columbia, South Carolina after the city council passed a plan entitled “Emergency Homeless Response” that bans vagrants from the region’s downtown area.

Councilman Cameron Runyan initiated the plan, and it will see police officers patrol the city center and enforce the city’s new “quality of life” laws that ban loitering and public urination. Officers will also be told to keep the homeless out of the city center, and, if they refuse to go, they will then be arrested.

However, the city has started to work with a charity to keep an emergency shelter open 24 hours a day, which is located just outside of the designated area.

There are still rules though, which includes, once a homeless person enters the building they are not allowed to leave, and the shelter can only hold up to 240 guests. Also, in order to leave the shelter, visitors will need to have an appointment, and they will then be ferried out by a van to that location.

Michael Stoops, the Director of Community Organizing at the National Coalition for the Homeless, isn’t happy with the new measure though.

He told ThinkProgress, “[This is the] most comprehensive anti-homeless measure that [he had] ever seen proposed in any city in the last 30 years. Using one massive shelter on the outskirts to house all a city’s homeless is something that has never worked anywhere in the country.”

There are reportedly 1,518 homeless people currently living in Columbia, which is six times the capacity of the shelter in town.

Susan Dunn, South Carolina ACLU’s legal director, remarked, “The underlying design is that they want the homeless not to be visible in downtown Columbia. You can shuttle them somewhere or you can go to jail. That’s, in fact, an abuse of power.”

Homeless campaigners are now hoping to help overturn this new plan, as the believe it violates their rights.

[Image via HABRDA/Shutterstock]

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43 Responses to “Homelessness Now A Crime In South Carolina”

  1. Lara Clarke Poertner

    I don't get the outrage. Everyone has to follow rules. The city is providing a place for these people to go, to be safer than on the streets. It's not like Hawaii that is just giving their homeless people an airline ticket back to their "home state" with no provisions lined up. Seriously what is the big deal….

  2. Michelle Burk

    Love it. Hope they do this in Charleston. I'm all for keeping the shelters opened 24/7. They shouldn't be allowed to lay around at the bus stops and sidewalks. Harsh but true.

  3. Dawn Cincotti-Posner

    The big deal is that they are human,human adults! In America you are supposed to have rights and freedom…this is the farthist thing from freedom there is! There hasn't been this type of prejudice and repression since the Holocaust in Nazi Germany! You dont just treat human adults as if you can hide them and only let them leave when and if you say it is ok and even then only if they have a guard…what difference does it make at that point if they go to jail or go to SC's CAMP?! It would be one thing if this was a program you got approved for and then they treated it as if it was a college and gave you training and then job placements moving them into their own homes after they complete the program but it isnt,they expect these people to live there for the rest of their lives and never be allowed to leave unless they say!! Dont forget you "dont see what the big deal is" because this doesnt effect you right now……but you know what they say,give an inch take a mile,of your rights away! What better way to start and see how much you can take from your citizens??!! Starting with the homeless, whom most do not have family or friends to help them defend themselves if their rights are being hindered,whom most would not have anyone to notice if they are being held prisoner without ever committing a crime (what better way to imprison them without looking like Hitler then creating laws that they can not help but commit so that you then have an excuse to cart them off so that they are not an eyesore!!!)! Most homeless people have something wrong,they need meds,they need counseling,they have addictions,just storing them in a building out of mind out of sight isnt going to do anything at all…. The shelter their providing doesnt even hold a quarter of the city's homeless people so that is setting up their jails to be over crowed with nonviolent offenders and putting them at risk for abuse from inmates and COs!! The city,the country would never know if they decided to just cart them off to the gas chambers!!!

  4. Betsy King

    Wow. If a stray dog was hanging around my neighborhood, what would I do? I'd probably determine if he was friendly, give him food and water, try to find his family and, as a LAST resort, turn him over to the shelter. My first response would not be to get angry because he was peeing on my yard.

  5. Eric Sedillos

    Lara homelessness is not about a bunch of rules these are human beings. Let me pray that your family experiences homelessness and then get back to me seems the Christians in the south really don't follow their false messiah oh well that's why they can't see in front of their face

  6. Dawn Cincotti-Posner

    The big deal is that they are human, human adults! In America you are supposed to have rights and freedom…this is the farthist thing from freedom there is! There hasn't been this type of prejudice and repression since the Holocaust in Nazi Germany! You don't just treat human adults as if you can hide them and only let them leave when and if you say it is ok and even then only if they have a guard…what difference does it make at that point if they go to jail or go to SC's CAMP? It would be one thing if this was a program you got approved for and then they treated it as if it was a college and gave you training and then job placements moving them into their own homes after they complete the program but it isn't, they expect these people to live there for the rest of their lives and never be allowed to leave unless they say! Don't forget you "don't see what the big deal is" because this doesn't effect you right now……but you know what they say, give an inch take a mile, of your rights away! What better way to start and see how much you can take from your citizens? Starting with the homeless, whom most do not have family or friends to help them defend themselves if their rights are being hindered, whom most would not have anyone to notice if they are being held prisoner without ever committing a crime (what better way to imprison them without looking like Hitler then creating laws that they can not help but commit so that you then have an excuse to cart them off so that they are not an eyesore!)! Most homeless people have something wrong, they need meds, they need counseling, they have addictions, just storing them in a building out of mind out of sight isn't going to do anything at all…. The shelter their providing doesn't even hold a quarter of the city's homeless people so that is setting up their jails to be over crowed with nonviolent offenders and putting them at risk for abuse from inmates and COs! The city, the country would never know if they decided to just cart them off to the gas chambers!

  7. Jack Easterwood

    Just wondering if Stoopes and the others who are so against this have ever "reallY" given the problems the so called homeless have on a downtown city area? They piss on buildings lay down on side walks (Passed out drunk) and stink up the down town library something fierce. Most of these people spend their day bothering people for "spare change" so they can run to a liquor store and buy a bottle of cheap booze or worst drugs. It get old after awhile for hard working people to have to deal with this sh*t! The City of Columbia is right and has the right to control these people. BTW- the most of the so called "homeless" are in that position because they want to be. They choose the street. If you pander to the "homeless" as a city, you will be over run with the "homeless". Crack down and you find that they either disappear for the most part or move on until they find other dupes willing to feel sorry for them. In the state of SC; take a look at Greenville vs Columbia when it comes to homeless people. Surprise, surprise!

  8. Stephanie Delano

    Making homelessness illegal is quite ridiculous but they needed to do something. You literally get swarmed by the homeless begging throughout Columbia. It can be scary as hell to be walking down the street and have 10 homeless people surround you. Like I said, this isn't the solution but it's something

  9. Maryann Head

    They should do something but I look at it this way .what if god came back as a homeless man and he was put in jail. we wen't to s.c a few years back at the shoe store . their was a man asking for money u can tell he was homeless so I gave him 10.00 he said he was going to eat .my dad got so mad at me but I told him I did what god ask me to do.so when we left the shoe store we went next door to eat , so the man was eating .I look at my dad and said u see do what god ask u to do . I no god knowed I gave that man the money . the man looked up at me and said god bless u my child.

  10. Keith L. Emerson Sr.

    Interesting! These "Emergency Centers" sounds like the "German Death Camps" so far without the furnaces. Visitors will be bused there, and they can leave whenever they like with an appointment. With an appointment, with who?

  11. Heather Goodwin Campbell

    Stephanie Delano are you afraid they may NEED something from you? Perhaps it is your conscious that is making you afraid. DO you help them?

  12. Heather Goodwin Campbell

    Maryann Head and even if he didn't do the right thing with the money…you did. You gave with an open heart as is meant. :)

  13. Heather Goodwin Campbell

    How dare your precious shopping trip be tainted by the sight of someone with nothing to eat or nowhere to bathe.

  14. Melissa Pearson

    Just another way for our country to take away some more of our freedoms.. Instead of coming up with a good plan to help them they just want to kick them to the side. Out of site out of mind.. If you got caught doing that to a dog you would have charges against you.. But here our government is doing it to there citizens..

  15. Melissa Pearson

    Just another way for our country to take away some more of our freedoms.. Instead of coming up with a good plan to help them they just want to kick them to the side. Out of site out of mind.. If you got caught doing that to a dog you would have charges against you.. But here our government is doing it to there citizens..

  16. Audrey Koopmans Albert

    What do they do if they have a much loved pet that has been with them for a long time. Shelters usually won't take animals in with the humans. If they won't take in the pets, the homeless won't go to a shelter. They can't afford to go anyplace else. Shelters should have kennels so the animals are taken care of, too. And so they are available for their owners to take them out on walks and be with them. To some of them, their animal is their only friend. I think this idea Columbia has is doomed for failure.

  17. Sue Gresalfi

    Don't get me wrong, I think it's appalling of what they're doing especially given the reasons they're doing it. However, as horrible as this sounds, at least in prison they'll have 3 meals a day.

  18. Elizabeth Tedore

    Heather Goodwin Campbell Have you failed to read the stores of homeless attacking people, even killing them over a DOLLAR in Hollywood? We have so many opportunities here in the US to make something of ourselves. Have you looked up the statistics of the homeless to druggie ratios? Do you understand how violent people can get needing their fix? Sorry, but we should be able to walk down the street, into a store, without feeling threatened. There is a time and a place, but to force yourself upon others to get your way is WRONG, I don't care what the situation is.

  19. Glen Pugh

    Once a homeless person enters the building they are not allowed to leave,
    sound like to me it going to be illegal they call it Kidnapping.

  20. Peggy Bridges Horton

    Judging a person does not define who they are , it defines who YOU are! Susan Dunn !!!!

  21. Earl Owens

    JUST SAD THAT OUR GOV. SENDS TRILL. TO OTHER COUNTRYS TO HELP THEM WITH THIER HOMELESS AND STARVING. BUT CANT COME UP WITH A BETTER PLAN THEN THIS.NOT ALL ARE DRUG ADDI. OR DRUNKS THIER OUR A LOT OF DIFFERNT SITT. I NO BECAUSE I BEEN THIER WHEN I WAS A CHILD ITS NOT FUN. 6 OF YOU LIVEING IN A VAN. BECAUSE YOUR FATHER GOT SICK AND ALMOST DIED. AND WE LOST EVERYTHING. THIER ARE SOME CHOOSE TO LIVE THIS WAY BUT OTHERS THAT DOn't.WHAT's NEXT OLD PEOPLE. JUST REMEMBER THIS COULD BE YOU ONE DAY.JUST REMEMBER IF U SAY NEVER. NEVER IS A LONG TIME.JUST SAYING GOD BLESS.

  22. Daniella Byrne

    Well, 24/7 = good, inability to leave = bad. I don't think there is anything wrong with preventing loitering on principle, though I think a homeless person should be allowed to enter a place of business for food & water, and should have the same access to public facilities everyone else has. I don't think there is anything wrong with enforcing a curfew in an effort to keep homeless and non-homeless pedestrians safe when its dark. Yet, arresting someone for being in a general area that's not privately owned is ridiculous. Containing them to a facility they're not allowed to leave is wrong. I can understand restricting people from leaving a facility during night hours – like they do in some college dorms – for everyone's safety, but keeping them there all hours against their will is not ok. When the facility can't even accommodate the known homeless population, what are you trying to do? I'd think if they wanted to solve the problem, they'd help with job training, or mental health assistance.

  23. Charlotte Boyd

    There are various types of homeless. What about those who have a mental illness? Will they be taken care of also. I don't know about your state, but here, the homeless are protected with human rights. No one has the right to dictate what is "good" for them.

  24. Sam Hanna

    the outrage is that these are adults who are out of work and have no other home maybe some are just unable to get a job yet and have no place to live but if they go into one of these so called shelters then they will NEVER be allowed to leave so how could someone ever look for work?? I was recently fired from my job and have yet to find a new one and if I cant find one in 45 days I too will be homeless with nowhere to go you have NO IDEA what it is to be truly alone and then get locked up just because welfare WON"T HELP YOU because you have no kids. this is wrong to not let someone leave if they want to i can see not letting you in or out after a certain time at night for safety but to not let them out during the day is like being sent to jail when you did nothing wrong and can't find a job that pays enough to live on I certainly hope this gets overturned

  25. Sam Hanna

    how can you be so blind they aren't just talking about a shelter for them to go to, this program is talking about once you go in you NEVER get to leave like being put in jail when you did nothing wrong but simply be unemployed and homeless you have NO IDEA how difficult it is to find a job these days and if you run out of savings and can't pay rent then you end up being homeless and still trying to find a job you may not know this but welfare WON'T HELP YOU if you are single and have no kids when all you need is a hand up not a hand out. try being alone with nobody to help you when you lose your job and can't find another before your money runs out and you have no roof over your head, no place to bathe and in today's digital age where you HAVE TO apply for a job online when you have no internet other than the public library, just so you can find a job so you can go back to having a home and a safe place to sleep and not have to worry about where your next meal is coming from try having a LITTLE COMPASSION FOR THOSE LESS FORTUNATE THAN YOU for one day that may just be you laying on the sidewalk wishing you had a warm safe place to sleep where you could come and go as you please instead of being locked up in a state run prison/shelter where once you enter you can never leave all because some privileged brat doesn't want to look at you while you sleep in the street and food places won't let you in to use the restroom because you are dirty because there is no public bathrooms where you can go to wash or piss

  26. Jésus Fvk Tørres

    I hate homeless people considering the fact that more than 70% are American citizens that can get benefits from being an American and they just let all that go to waste.

  27. Angelo Sarto

    Something you are forgetting is people like you supporting and standing behind lawmakers as they are taking away American's freedoms and rights,once they are successful in controlling this group of people's daily movements and whereabouts they WILL move on to the next group of people until they are successful in having as much control as they possibly can over all Americans! What people like you fail to realize is our government that is in office now are not the same people that believed in our country being free and our people having rights…our government now is about control! They feed on the "less desirable at first…the people who do not have the means to fight for themselves,I am pretty sure most of the homeless do not even know this law is being passed therefore can not fight it even even they had the means and since people like you do not care this scary shit can pass,just like them trying to take our right to bear arms,whenever there is a school shooting,a child who's parents didn't lock their gun away,or any crime with a gun you will see it posted all over the media,how do you think these local stories make it all over the country in minutes…our government they take advantage of our country's fear and pounce on it for their own tactics,9/11…patriot act my ass,they saw a nation of fear and took that as an opportunity to do things they have been trying to figure out how to do as a nation for a long time! Like idiots we didnt fight it and now they are able to find anyone of us and anytime and there is no longer any such thing as privacy or invasion of! Mark my words one day there will be something you are passionate about that your government will take from you and there will be a group of people that it is not as important to that will not stand with you as a nation and it WILL be taken from you,with nothing you can do….right now America has less rights then most civilized countries…we are no longer then Land of the Free because people like you agree with taken freedoms from people just because it doesnt effect you or you do no agree with said people!!!

  28. Angelo Sarto

    in other words your freedoms and rights are no more important then anyone else's

  29. Angelo Sarto

    It's bad enough most of you people don't take the time to learn our language while living in America but you should also learn about the shit that goes on in the country…the only people living the American dream are NOT American….Native American get benefits for being Native American…fake ass "African" Americans get something for being "African' American…or should I say for not being white….however people that admit that they are just plain American don't get shit handed to them,hell we can't even get the job if one of you,or said above want the same job so we can't even work for our shit!! People without green cards even have more rights and get more benefits then we do so learn your shit…How would you like if someone said I hate Latin people since we have homeless people because Latin people take all of their jobs and benefits and "handouts" so by the time it gets to them there is nothing left…

  30. Dawn Cincotti-Posner

    Stephanie Delano it should be more scary to you that for every one person there is 10 homeless then the homeless themselves!!

  31. Danyell Bigd Bewley

    What benefits? A soup kitchen? A food pantry? Maybe a shelter if it isn't full? Nope…I'm a single white woman with no kids. They won't do anything for me.

  32. Matt Hudson

    All of you need to read the plan or STFU. Period. I would like to ship every one of these stinking, drunk, mean homeless people directly to YOUR front steps where they piss and shit, then want your money so they can do it all over again. This is a problem that will only get bigger. Put up your plan to 'Help the homeless' or GTFO. Period. I'm tired of all you people acting as if you really give a shit — DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. And by doing something, I don't mean bring them clothes and food… why? Because that's all they need to survive… you're enabling them to stay put and repeat the pattern. Those of you that deplore the 'plan' (aka haven't read it and go by crap-ass news sources like this) I ask you to put up or shut up. #ThatIsAll