The Street Reach Mission was operating at full capacity Wednesday night, and at least one man was turned away because the shelter was packed, said Myrtle Beach police.
According to a police report, a 30-year-old man came in about 6 p.m. to the Myrtle Beach Police Department from the Street Reach Mission and told officers he wanted to file a complaint against the center because he was told he could not stay the night there.
Police said they called Street Reach Mission and were informed by staff that the center was at full capacity and was not accepting any more overnight residents.
Officers informed the man of the reason he was turned away and told him the shelter was not breaking any laws by refusing more residents.
Kathy Jenkins, executive director of New Directions, which operates Street Reach, said they are able to accommodate 150 people before they reach full capacity. She said they do have a small overflow space that holds around 10 people at a maximum, but there are no beds in that area.
“We’ve had it rough trying to accommodate people, and trying to accommodate them in a way we’re not accustomed to accommodating people; but we’re doing the best we can to ensure we get people out of the cold and the wet and that we give them a warm place to sleep and a hot meal. And we will continue to do that throughout the winter months,” said Jenkins.
The staff at the shelter looks at the weather forecast each day to anticipate the need in the community, but with an estimated 800 homeless in the area, it’s difficult for the staff to help everyone when there are low temperatures, Jenkins said.
The Street Reach Mission will be offering overnight emergency residency to people through Saturday on a first come, first serve basis, Jenkins said.
The doors open at 3 p.m., and check-in hours for an overnight stay last until about 5:30 to 6 p.m.
Jenkins said she wasn’t sure about what other shelter alternatives were available in the area, but said that staff at Street Reach does offer provisions, such as blankets, to people if they have them available to give out to those they cannot take in for the night.
Jenkins said she is hoping that those coming in from the cold will take advantage of the services the shelter offers, such as the Back to Work, Back to Life program, which Jenkins said helped 303 homeless people find permanent housing last year.
“We don’t want anyone to be cold. We don’t want anyone to freeze. We want everyone to choose our Back to Work, Back to Life program. That’s what we want,” said Jenkins.