Charleston city officials reviewing ideas to tackle homeless, transient issue

To combat the growing homeless population in Charleston, city officials are reviewing several ideas with homeless service providers and police. (WCHS/WVAH)

Charleston city officials are continuing to brainstorm how to effectively deal with the growing number of homeless people on the streets.

City officials say the homeless population is growing because transients have been coming from out of state and sometimes, they can cause a lot of problems.

"That's what we're concerned about and I know the homeless providers are concerned about it too. We are hearing that the local homeless residents are being injured, beaten up, robbed by this new element,” said City Attorney Paul Ellis.

This issue is affecting everything from hotels, to neighborhoods, to restaurants.

James Stanley, the manager of Sabatino's Sandwich Kitchen said it really hurts businesses downtown.

"It will take its effects, a toll on business. People will walk right by because they don't want to be hassled by the questions or someone asking them for anything and at the same time it happens every day, you just have to deal with it,” Stanley said.

Ellis said city leaders are working on several initiatives to address the issue and will keep working until they can move forward on them.

“We want to vet everything through the homeless providers, vet it through our police department... make sure we are all on the same page, make sure we all believe the things that we want to do will make a positive difference in our city,” Ellis said.

While Eliis would not elaborate on specific plans, he did say a panhandling ordinance and outdoor storages are some of many ideas.

Stanley thinks that would be a move in the right direction for the city.

"I think it’s important to anybody to have somewhere that they feel like they have a safe haven for their things, like when we go home from our jobs every day we feel like we have a safe haven so I'd be all for it. I hope the city gets it done for these guys. I think it would be a real big step and just give them some confidence in themselves.” Stanley said.

Ellis said they will go through the ideas with the homeless service providers and the city could roll out initiatives to tackle the homeless and transient issue in two to four weeks.

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