Understanding Homelessness in South Carolina

The issue of homelessness in South Carolina, just as in other parts of the country, is a complex one with numerous intersecting causes. According to a Point-in-Time count carried out by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2020, South Carolina had approximately 3,743 people experiencing homelessness on a single night. These individuals are not a monolithic group; they represent a diverse array of people with varying circumstances and unique stories. The population includes families with children, veterans, disabled individuals, and the elderly.

The Rise in Homelessness: Causes and Implications

During the past decades there has been a noticeable increase in homelessness in South Carolina, despite several efforts to reduce it. This surge is majorly attributed to a lack of affordable housing, job loss, domestic violence, mental illness, and substance abuse.

The state of South Carolina has found it increasingly challenging to handle homelessness because of the growing number of households earning extremely low income and the ongoing recession, which has led to widespread unemployment and eviction. Alarmingly, out of 10 states with the highest rates of homelessness, South Carolina ranks 9th.

Assistance Programs by the South Carolina State Government

The South Carolina State Government through its agency, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), offers several programs that are aimed towards providing housing assistance and support to people facing homelessness. Notable among these is the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG). The ESG program provides funds towards operating emergency shelters, providing essential services to shelter residents, carrying out homelessness prevention activities, and providing rapid re-housing assistance for those experiencing homelessness.

Moreover, the state also collaborates with the Continuum of Care (CoC) program that assists individuals and families experiencing homelessness in South Carolina to quickly regain stability in permanent housing after experiencing a housing crisis or homelessness. These programs not only provide direct help for the homeless but also aid non-profit shelters with their budget needs.

Shelters for the Homeless in South Carolina

There are numerous homeless shelters across the state of South Carolina that offer temporary accommodation to people in need. Some of these shelters cater to specific groups such as war veterans or survivors of domestic violence, while others are open to any person experiencing homelessness regardless of their background. These shelters provide a range of services including food, clothing, counselling, job training, medical care and other forms of support.

Eligibility and Types of Assistance

The typical services provided by shelters include a safe place to sleep, meals, basic healthcare, and assistance with navigating various public assistance programs and dealing with employment issues. Factors that might determine eligibility for assistance at these shelters may include the individual's status (such as being a veteran, a survivor of domestic violence or a parent with dependent children), their income level, and whether they have sought help from other programs in the past.


While homelessness is a challenge in South Carolina, there are numerous resources available to people who are affected. The state government and numerous shelters across the state are ready and willing to provide help and support. These resources make it possible for individuals and families facing homelessness to find shelter, food, medical aid, and compassionate assistance with the ultimate goal of helping them secure more stable and permanent housing.

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