City and community partners work to ensure overnight shelter space available for those in need
Miracle Hill to provide overnight shelter space for Spartanburg Opportunity Center users
Homelessness is an ongoing and complex community issue in Spartanburg, requiring many organizations working together to find solutions and resources for this vulnerable population. Because of this, United Way of the Piedmont convened the Homeless Taskforce to strategically align resources and capacity to prevent and end homelessness in Spartanburg County. The taskforce is a collaborative group made up of local service providers, nonprofits, and government entities.
Over the past five years, the taskforce has partnered to increase coordinated case management and outreach for unsheltered individuals. Emerging from the taskforce’s work, the Spartanburg Opportunity Center was initially conceived and opened in 2019 as a day shelter for folks experiencing homelessness in Spartanburg.
Since opening, the center has provided and continues to provide those in need with a safe space to shower, receive mail, do laundry, charge devices, and connect with service providers and case management professionals, filling a critical role in our community by providing basic services and a path forward for many who need it most.
Though the facility was never envisioned as an overnight shelter, the City began allowing OpportunityHub! (formerly SPIHN) to offer overnight sheltering on a limited, emergency basis during the pandemic to help alleviate capacity reductions made at Miracle Hill Rescue Mission due to social distancing.
Recognizing the increasing need for such space in Spartanburg, the City extended this arrangement, allowing the Opportunity Center to serve as an overnight shelter on a temporary basis to the current date.
In the intervening months, the City has seen a dramatic increase in calls for police service at the property, rising from just 19 in the first nine months of 2020 to 539 service calls over the same time period in 2022.
Additionally, the City has received and continues to receive complaints from nearby residents concerned about nighttime activity at the Opportunity Center and how that activity impacts their community.
Taken together, these factors have led the City to make the difficult decision to cease the Opportunity Center’s overnight sheltering program.
Recognizing the disruption this change will cause for those experiencing homelessness who have utilized the center’s overnight sheltering option, the City and Homeless Taskforce partners have worked with Miracle Hill Rescue Mission to ensure that those who’ve utilized the Opportunity Center’s night shelter will continue to have an overnight option.
Miracle Hill will house Opportunity Center users through their Crisis Shelter Program, providing each participant with a case manager and will receive assistance in meeting the program’s goals and moving towards self-sufficiency. Residents in the program will have: access to a bed at all times, three meals per day, transportation for essential needs, laundry service, showers, healthcare, and storage.
For those who do not participate in the Crisis Shelter Program, Miracle Hill also offers a cold weather overnight shelter which opens during emergency inclement weather and when the temperature drops below 40 degrees. The cold weather shelter accepts all that need shelter regardless of background provided they abide by the facility’s safety protocols.
Additionally, while the Spartanburg Opportunity Center space is not in a suitable location and is not designed to serve as an overnight shelter, the City and our partners remain committed to increasing the amount of shelter space available in our community and we remain committed to using our own resources and leveraging the resources of the larger Spartanburg community to achieve that goal.
We encourage members of our community moved to lend their assistance in addressing homelessness in Spartanburg to visit uwpiedmont.org/challengeforchange to learn how you can best help make a difference. If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness, please call 2-1-1 to learn about local resources and connect with services.