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Safe Haven Homeless Shelter still closed, leaders seeking funds to reopen for Christmas

Leaders of Walterboro’s Safe Haven Shelter are still working to reopen the facility for the homeless, if only for the holiday season.
The Safe Haven Homeless Shelter is located in Walterboro and is a 30-day “safe site” for homeless women and children.
The shelter was officially closed down on Sept. 23rd after the most recent hurricane hit Colleton County. It has not reopened. The closing occurred because of a lack of funding, specifically with a lack of state-funded grant money that the shelter did not receive in 2019.
According to Tara Glover, executive director of the Lowcountry Community Action Agency (LCAA), the local shelter lost its state grant funding. This $70,000 Lowcountry Continuum of Care state grant was given each year to the LCAA for the operation of the shelter. The LCAA is the Colleton County-based umbrella agency that operates the shelter.
Once the grant was lost in 2018, Colleton County Council gave the shelter $30,000 to operate in 2019. However, this money only lasted from June of this year to September. That is when the shelter closed.
As of Dec. 1st, about seven homeless women and children had asked to use the shelter for a place to stay. As of Monday, that number has increased to more than 10 people who have sought the shelter as a place to live.
“I’m not going to stop until it reopens,” said Glover.
She is still seeking large donations and grants from state officials, she said.
The City of Walterboro gives no financial support to the shelter or to LCAA to operate the shelter, she said. However, Glover said on Monday that an official with the City of Walterboro reached out to her after the original article about the shelter ran in this newspaper last week. That official told Glover how to speak to the city to formally request funding in the coming fiscal year cycle, she said.
As of press deadline on Tuesday, Glover said the LCAA had not received any large sums of money or grants to reopen the shelter, even temporarily. She said they had received several small donations from individuals in the community. Each of those donations is going into the “pot to reopen” the shelter, she said.
In the interim, Glover and other LCAA employees are financially supporting those who have called them in need. “If someone donates to the people who are calling us, I’ll make sure it gets to them,” she said on Monday.
“Most of those who have called us have been homeless, living in their cars,” she said. “They need everything.
“We did have one mother who called recently,” said Glover. “She worked at an area gas station that closed down, and she was looking for help for her children for Christmas.”
Glover is currently seeking donations from county leaders, businesses, and individuals to open the shelter immediately for the holiday season. She and the LCAA are going to petition state officials for more funding. She is also going to begin asking for grants to keep the shelter open and functioning each year. However, the grant cycle doesn’t open until June of 2020.
“Homelessness is not visible here, but it does exist,” she said. “My biggest fear is the holidays are here, and these people are sleeping in their cars. Some have children. And the weather is going to turn colder.”
To donate to the shelter, or to get more information, contact Glover at the LCAA at 843-549-5576, extension 101.

How Safe Haven works
The shelter is more than an overnight safety spot for women and children.
“Although we have people in the shelter, we rapidly re-home them,” Glover said. “This takes a lot of financial need.”
When the shelter closed on Sept. 23rd, there were seven people in the shelter: one family of three and one family of four. The shelter is open only to women and children. Most have left an abusive situation and are seeking a safe place to stay.
The shelter provides a safe place for them to stay for up to 30 days. Additionally, shelter leaders and the LCAA also help those in the shelter to get back on their feet, said Glover.
This is done through financial counseling and employment opportunities. Women are also “rehomed” to an apartment, meaning LCAA officials help the women in the shelter to find an apartment within 30 days of staying there. Lastly, the shelter uses a portion of its operating funds to pay for these people’s first months’ rent, a first months’ worth of utilities and water.
The basics are also provided, said Glover. This includes dishes, appliances, clothes, and shoes. Uniforms to children attending local schools were also usually provided.
“Moving is very expensive, and these women leave to go to a shelter with nothing,” she said. Walterboro-area business Consignment Envy would also donate furniture to the new tenants.
“We do everything we can to help them and their children have a safe start to a new life,” said Glover.
In 2018, the Safe Haven Shelter helped 117 individuals (women and children).
“The closest shelters to us are in Savannah, Ga, or in downtown Charleston,” she said. “And they are a one-night-at-a-time offering. The line begins at 4 p.m. each day, and they are first come and first serve. A lot of our churches here in Colleton are trying to help us help these people who are in need,” she said.

Heather Walters (1738 Posts)