A city in South Carolina has come up with a new way to help the homeless - start charging them for food and other services.
The Myrtle Beach City council said it will hold back funding to certain nonprofit agencies unless they starting billing the homeless. Although officials at the Community Kitchen have balked at the idea, workers at the First United Methodist Church have said the concept works.
The First Methodist Church Thrift Store (FUMC) opened eight years as a clothes closet where items were given away for free. Some church members think that distributing the items at no cost aided the cycle of homelessness.
"If you gave certain people one brand of shoe they would want a different name-brand pair instead" said Jean Clemmons, Director of the FUMC Thrift store. “It got frustrating because, after all, we were giving it to them."
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One of the store’s customers, Tracy Bowman, recently became homeless. "It is tough to buy new clothes, sometimes you are required to have khakis or black pants for a job" said Bowman. "I'm homeless for the first time in my life and knowing there are places like this and people who care gives you faith in humanity You know that there is still goodness in the world."
Prices at the thrift store now range from a nickel to $5 for larger items like men's suit jackets, WBTW reported. Since the store began charging, organizers say a different clientele has been frequenting the establishment. According to Clemmons, all the money that is made at the church thrift store goes back to the community.