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South Carolina Homeless Coming North?

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FAYETTEVILLE — The Gospel Team Outreach helps the needy find shelter, jobs and government assistance. In the last six months the organization has seen an increase in people walking through its doors.

Twenty-five families have come here from South Carolina. GTO's leader, Michael Bost, thinks he knows why.

"South Carolina started moving into welfare reform and made it more difficult to tap into the welfare system and draw from resources," Bost said. "North Carolina hasn't gotten that aggressive yet."

In fact, South Carolina implemented a welfare reform law in 1995. Since that time, its caseload has dropped by 46 percent. More people have found jobs.

Bost believes the tough new laws in South Carolina have pushed some welfare recipients north along Interstate 95 to the closest big city out of state. That city is Fayetteville.

The director of the Department of Social Services in Cumberland County says he hasn't noticed an increase in out of state recipients, but has heard of this happening. He says states often will give welfare recipients cash to move to another state for a job.

"If they are being referred here for jobs, and there are no job contacts and no communication with the employer, that's what we call Greyhound therapy, transferring problems from one locale to another," said Chip Modlin of the county social services department.

South Carolina officials say that's not what is happening. The state will verify the employment. Homeless experts say it could be just word of mouth. Whatever the reason, DSS in Fayetteville has told its employees to watch for out-of-state applicants.

While 25 families from South Carolina is not a huge number crossing state lines for government assistance, The Gospel Team Outreach says it is trying to identify the problem and do something about it before it becomes a trend.


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