“Concentration Camp” For Columbia, SC Homeless?

A Richland County council member is accused of describing a planned relocation facility for Columbia, S.C. homeless citizens as a “concentration camp.” Several sources tell FITS the as-yet-unidentified county councilman made the comment in reference to a 175-acre facility that’s planned for the Ballentine/ White Rock area of Northeastern Richland…

A Richland County council member is accused of describing a planned relocation facility for Columbia, S.C. homeless citizens as a “concentration camp.”

Several sources tell FITS the as-yet-unidentified county councilman made the comment in reference to a 175-acre facility that’s planned for the Ballentine/ White Rock area of Northeastern Richland County.

This facility – which is already drawing fire from national liberals – is part of an effort to rid Columbia’s city center of homelessness. You know, by moving the homeless people someplace else.

Pushed by city councilman Cameron Runyan, the initiative would detain homeless citizens and transport them – or as many of them as is possible – to an as-yet-unidentified 240-bed facility, which would receive at least $500,000 from city taxpayers each year.

Crazy …

“Basically they want them walking around the suburbs when they get out not walking around downtown,” one source familiar with the site selection for the new facility tells FITS. “Downtown it’s bad for business.”

A little over two years ago, Columbia, S.C. opened a $12 million “privately run” facility to help its 1,500 homeless residents “transition” to a more productive life. The problem? This so-called “privately-run” center – which features 260 beds – is funded almost exclusively by federal grants and city tax dollars.

Oh, and there’s not much in the way of a “more productive life” available in South Carolina …

Columbia – famously referred to as the “Face of the Recession” in 2008 – doesn’t seem to have made much progress in the intervening years (although it has pumped a lot of money into empty parking garages and the “hydrogen economy of the future“).

Oh well … if you can’t beat homelessness with millions of tax dollars. Just spend millions more to move the homeless someplace else, right?

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Notinmyneighborhood August 22, 2013 at 4:25 pm

The area you describe is in an area where residents have talked about forming a new county. An action like this will certainly motivate more folks to want to form a new county. I’ll help lead the way. Bob Coble worked to get the poor out of Columbia. Now T-Bone has taken the job even farther.

EJB August 23, 2013 at 9:33 am

I don’t think they can unilaterally form their own county, at the least they will need legislative approval. There is too much back scratching in the legislature for them to approve a dissection of the county without Richland’s political approval. Richland County will never let them go now that the new penny sales tax has passed; they would loose too much money. Those folks are stuck with Richland County and they will have the homeless shoved at them unless they find a political ally to help stop it.

lawzoo August 22, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Gee mobile homeless ? Hmmm can’t beat country living . Is it mandatory?

Smirks August 22, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Detain them and move them? Holy crap. Columbia/Richland is going to get the shit sued out of them if they did that.

9" August 22, 2013 at 6:10 pm

“Them”? Who the hell are you?

Comrade1917 August 22, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Not in the USSA.

Sam August 22, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Wanna see a war? Try moving 1500 homeless to this area on TOP of two section 8 housing projects.

snarky August 22, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Shit, let them run Soda City. The jerk in charge who has a no-bid contract with the city that lets him snarl $60 each from 60 vendors each Saturday morning could fund the whole plan out of his pocket.

Squishy123 August 22, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Columbia should put word on the streets that being homeless and in Columbia isn’t as nice as being homeless and being in Augusta/Charlotte/Charleston/Greenville.

Frank Pytel August 23, 2013 at 5:04 am

They all give bus tickets to their homeless. I wonder where the buses go?

SenseLikeChaps August 23, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Can’t say I blame them.

Chatting with a friend who works in Columbia and lives near the proposed area. For him it went down like this.

He is walking to his car and some homeless guy stops him for change. Guy says, “I’ll give you some change, but only if you tell me where you are from and how you got here”. Homeless guys says he is from NYC and just got off the Bus. Why here? The homeless guy was given a list of places and he just picked one. So he goes home and reads up on the Bloomberg policy of shipping freeloaders “back home”. The next day there is another panhandler. He offers the same deal as the last guy. “From NYC, My sister’s ex-husband lives here.” Have you ever been here before? “Nope.” Have you ever met your sister’s ex-husband before? “Nope. They just asked if there was any family from the south.” Whaaaa?

When he encounters his third homeless person he doesn’t even ask, he just says, “Let me guess, you just got out of Rikers Island and you don’t know anyone in his city?”

“How did you know?”

Not only does he have all of these extra homeless people milling around, but he has some guy in another state saying that they are “his” moral failing for not taking care of “his” homeless? Next he finds out that Columbia wants to relocate them to his area?

So he gets the blame for “his” homeless invading NYC and now he gets a “concentration camp”. That is a lot of blame just for going to work; he didn’t ask to be a freeloader pusher and a Nazi in the nation’s eyes. On top of all of that he gets to turn on his TV and hear that he as a southerner is rape-murdering innocent tax dollars from the rest of the US in federal funding. Talk about being everyone’s asshole.

Frank Pytel August 23, 2013 at 5:27 pm


Polyphemos August 23, 2013 at 10:57 pm


Bubba August 27, 2013 at 7:54 am

That would be a great bumper sticker…

Very Corrupt South Carolina August 22, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Interesting report. What is going with the investigation into a homeless shelter run by Nancy Cook of Charleston? Cook who was caught ripping off the tax payers in her scam – both federal, state, and local tax money, this lowlife was stealing? Its been two years now and she has not been arrested and over $300,000.00 is missing!! She should be sent to prison for 30 years for her crimes! That woman has snakes in her head.

9" August 22, 2013 at 6:07 pm

The most impressive and talented man I’ve met was a former architect from,Atlanta,who’d ended up homeless in Columbia,through no fault of his own.After talking with him,he showed up w/his portfolio,and i was wiped out.

“See. I used to be somebody.”

Darkside101906 August 22, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Exactly! Most people are one pay check away from being in the same boat. Stop that holier than thou attitude people.

Soft Sigh from Hell August 22, 2013 at 7:29 pm

How would it violate any law if Richland County set it up in Lexington County? Didn’t West Columbia or Cayce buy or annex a big chuck of Congaree River bottomland in Richland Co.? Danny Frazier could probably arrange to get it conveniently along 378. He probably comes pretty cheap nowadays too.

Darkside101906 August 22, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Y’all better not forget, u or someone u know or love are one paycheck away from being homeless. Hope your holier than thou attitude hits close to hom Runyan!

Neo August 23, 2013 at 11:33 am Reply
El Kabong August 22, 2013 at 8:50 pm

“Ballentine/ White Rock area of Northeastern Richland County.”

Ballentine / White Rock is in the northwestern portion of the county.

Siamese August 22, 2013 at 9:55 pm

There will be a fight for sure.. Those people who own those McMansions around Lake Murray in these areas will fight this tooth and nail.. There is a lot of money up there!!

coolhandluke August 22, 2013 at 10:05 pm

If relocation is in the ballentine/white area, then its out of the jurisdiction of Columbia and its inept police department. I think the location is somewhere on the broad river.

Henry Mixmaster August 22, 2013 at 11:11 pm

I’ll just say this: who wants a drunk, dirty guy sleeping next to your front door and pissing in your yard? Would you patronize a business if you had to run the gauntlet of loiterers begging for money?

That is what is going on downtown. We as a whole allowed it to happen and we can either humanely and compassionately deal with it or write off the business district and the millions of dollars of investment just because YOU can hop in your Benz or Lexus and drive to your house in the suburbs and watch your 50″ TV in air conditioned comfort feeling good that you stood up for someone’s right to live in squalor.

Fucking hypocrites.

Darkside101906 August 23, 2013 at 1:01 am

This is why I said the Mast General store isn’t leaving because of the location, its leaving because its too expensive and they are not doing well with sales. So blame it on homeless. Straight up hypocrites everywhere all the while the mayor is trying to convince all the democrats downtown that HE should get the label as the King of Columbia. Take a hike!

Nathan Hale August 23, 2013 at 2:49 pm

No. The place is bustling on Saturday afternoons. But you have to run a gauntlet of panhandlers because Santiago is busy trying to frame Alison Baker rather than move along loiterers.

By the way, there was a huge human turd in the staircase of the public garage today. First time I have seen it.

Something needs to be done. And anyone that calls me a Nazi should be forced to clean up one of those turds like the merchants and office building managers have to do.

Darkside101906 August 23, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Nobody is gonna call u a nazi. Its ur opinon and have every rright to it. Problem is u can’t make them stay in a camp. Hitler tried that before.Its against the law . But city doesn’t care because they let santiago keep his job when he shouldve been suspeded for being accused of a FELONY.

Soft Sigh from Hell August 24, 2013 at 3:38 pm

“If you feed them, they will dump” — Andre

manicdrummer August 23, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Henry, what would you say to a homeless veteran if you encountered one? Chances are, you already have and just didn’t know he was a veteran. So don’t think that it’s just well-to-do liberals you’re up against. You’re also facing some folks who fought for your freedom in the US Armed Forces. The US economy is still in recession and lots of folks, including returning veterans, can’t find work. You’d have much better success demanding that they drive out illegal aliens from this country so the homeless can find work. Deal?

Nathan Hale August 23, 2013 at 5:48 pm

I know I what I would do: direct them to the resources that are there. Defecating on the streets is not acceptable.

Cluxton Joe Willis IV August 22, 2013 at 11:59 pm

Maybe Williams-Brice is an option?

EJB August 23, 2013 at 7:02 am

“If you build it they will come.”

Wasn’t written about homeless people but it applies just as well. They built a homeless shelter in Columbia and they are surprised there are more homeless people, surprised that people aren’t getting back on their own two feet? Who would have thunk it? Now they want to build a facility out of town and guess how they will move them back and forth, expand the bus service I would imagine. They can pay for the concentration camp, uh, homeless shelter and expanded bus service with all the “free” money they have coming in from the penny sales tax increase.

Get ready for more free spending crazy ideas to come from that lot.

junior justice August 23, 2013 at 9:13 am

Right on — 5+

JaneA13 August 23, 2013 at 7:14 am

Transitions is privately run and was privately developed, starting with a $5M private grant. The city support is about 10% of the operating budget. And if you think tax payers spend too much trying to solve homelessness, you have no idea what it costs To NOT solve it. There are dozens and dozens of studies that demonstrate the most cost effective solution is to place people in housing. Among the many issues with Runyan’s plan is that jailing them is VERY expensive and totally ineffective.

Frank Pytel August 23, 2013 at 7:35 am

So what do you do about perpetual homelessness. When do you tell them to stand on their own two feet?

junior justice August 23, 2013 at 9:11 am

Right — 5+

Darth August 23, 2013 at 11:33 am

Wilde did address Columbia’s homeless problem, which was in turn Hollywoodized… Soylent green, white meat or dark meat?

Boz Martin August 23, 2013 at 12:28 pm

They are doing something like this in Myrtle Beach as well.

Capn Crunch August 23, 2013 at 1:11 pm

The bottom line here is that they are people and not some amorphous mass of cells that clutter someone’s neighborhood. It is as if the poor are denigrated as being less worthy of life, but by the grace of God go we.

nitrat August 23, 2013 at 1:28 pm

“It is as if the poor are denigrated as being less worthy of life,”
That is EXACTLY what the Christianist Republican Party thinks.

You know there’s a problem in organized religion when the sign in front of the “church” is ‘Freedom ?’ instead of ‘Love thy neighbor’.

Polyphemos August 27, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Ah, the noble poor! Here we go again.. Those who choose that life are bums. Those who are there by true circumstance are victims of a failed system which is already glutted with so many cash thieves,there is no room for the truly needy. And if you give up after being down, it’s nobody’s fault but yours, if you stay there. Bad things happen to good people. The Bad just take it and blame someone else. Everyone should be forced to read the intro to Michael Crichton’s book, The Great Train Robbery. It will disabuse you of the notion of the nobility of the poor, and the ability to rehabilitate habitual offenders and bums. As I said, above, the majority of homeless people are traumatized vets. They need real help, not a pass to roam the streets, too.

Capn Crunch August 23, 2013 at 1:13 pm

It is better that they get the help somewhere and stop worrying about politics. I am a homeless veteran by the way and I plan to haunt your dreams with the specter of being on your porches… lol

Jay Ellington August 23, 2013 at 4:06 pm

I’d love to see the who the real “masterminds” behind this proposal are. I think Cameron is being used as the “evil white guy” pawn.

Scott August 23, 2013 at 4:36 pm

They say millions upon millions spent each year ? if the feds came to Columbia an do an audit i bet the farm it wont be the homeless going to jail !

manicdrummer August 23, 2013 at 4:53 pm

It may actually qualify as a concentration camp. The “concentration” part of the term means that people are tightly packed in a small area. The new shelter in Columbia is built to house 240 people, yet there are 1,500 homeless residents in Columbia. If the city wanted bad enough to get rid of all 1,500 of them, there’s nothing to say that they’d be forced to remain on shelter property and camp out on shelter grounds. THEN it would be a concentration camp for sure.

Polyphemos August 23, 2013 at 10:51 pm

The majority of real homeless people are vets. These people need a place for permanent care, including psychiatric help. The reason they are out on the street is because the VA system has failed.

The other real homeless people would take advantage of social programs and religious help, but most of it is sucked up by drugged up wastrels and winos, who deserve nothing but the back of the hand.

One final word. The reason you don’t feed the bears is because the bears will start depending on you for their existence. Once we take care of the Vets and the truly homeless families (which are surprisingly few), the bears will become self evident, and can be sent away.. or just culled.

Bible Thumper August 29, 2014 at 10:51 pm

There were an estimated 57,849 homeless veterans estimated in the United States during January 2013; or 12 percent of all homeless adults.
Even a smaller percentage if children are included.
Many falsely claim to be veterans in order to gain sympathy from charities. This is why their numbers seem to be larger. It is also a feel good simpathy generating for the media to exaggerate their numbers and focus their stories. I know of a charity that encouraged the false veteran claim and even handed out vet hats in order to raise funds.

Becca August 24, 2013 at 8:07 pm

The smart thing to do would be to use all the empty, foreclosed on houses in a program to help get these people back in homes. Just seems to make the most sense to me…we’ve got all these empty houses, yet all these people living on the streets. Our government should spend money putting those two things together and create a permanent solution, not a temporary one, which is what this facility will be.

whatwouldjesusdo August 31, 2013 at 8:00 am

Write to Runyan and tell him we don’t do concentration camps, holding people against their will. The economy will get worse when massive immigration comes and when Obamacare costs force only part time work for new hires and when we strike Syria. There will be more homeless. Is Runyan planning the way for massive roundups of the new homeless?


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