The Myrtle Beach homeless could lose a refuge after city officials took their final vote on an ordinance to annex more than 7 acres of property next to Helping Hands of Myrtle Beach. It’s situated between Nance Street, Mr. Joe White Avenue and Grissom Parkway.
The land, owned by Burroughs and Chapin, is in one of Myrtle Beach’s donut holes, which are pockets of unincorporated county land within the city. City officials maintain the property has increasingly been used for “urban camping,” resulting in litter being spread around.
“It’s one of the donut holes, and because it was outside the jurisdiction, it was available for uses that were not contemplated by the city,” said city spokesman Mark Kruea. “It wasn’t part of the city. We could not go in and enforce city rules there. The county certainly has some rules, but it being a donut hole, it’s completely surrounded by the city. It just makes sense for it to be inside the city rather than outside.”
But when the land becomes part of the Myrtle Beach, officers will have the authority to remove people from the area, which they can’t do right now. That means the homeless may no longer be able to use the land as an area where they can avoid police.
“Where are we going to go?” asked Tyler Blake Britt, a 30-year-old Whiteville, North Carolina, native who said he recently became homeless. “They wonder why crime rates are so high.
Britt said he was first prescribed Lorcet (an opiate) when he was 12-years-old, to combat his rheumatoid arthritis.
“Long story short, I got on pain pills to help with my pain and got addicted to them; started abusing them, which led me up to stealing,” he said, adding that he spent 8 of the last 10 years in prison.
A construction worker by trade, Britt said he came to Myrtle Beach in hopes of finding work and treatment.
“I heard that the jobs [were] plentiful and you could get help with the walk-in suboxone clinics and they had stuff for homeless and shelters," he said. "They have nothing here."
"That place,” he said, pointing at Helping Hands of Myrtle Beach, “New Directions, and you’re done.”
Britt said he uses suboxone for pain relief and to help fight is opiate addiction, as well as crystal meth and cocaine, which prevents him from sleeping. He said he’s worried about people stealing from him during the night, and added that he recently had all his clothes stolen.
“I have nothing,” Britt said. “Nobody won’t let you work, won’t help you. I’m going to have to go steal, I had to go steal these shorts and these sandals just so I could have something to wear.”
Britt said the homeless population could be helped if someone built a large motel that fit three people to a room, which could hold 150 people and get them off the street.
At the end of the day, Britt said, he just wants shelter and to avoid another felony charge, which could land him in jail for another 15 years.
“I went and tricked myself out to a man last night to get $67 for a motel room and $20 for my suboxone,” he said. “I don’t want cocaine, I want my suboxone, I want a cool place to lay my head. You’re not going to get it here. Middle of the month, and I’m leaving. I’m not staying around here.”