I wanted to share you with you of my biggest goals of 2019. This is something I will be working on all year long and asking several groups and individuals to help with this task.
I am blessed to be a native Charlestonian. I am also blessed to have grown up in West Ashley, yet also live downtown during my college years at The Citadel. It was during my time in college that I started to see a trend. As my classmates and I walked along some of Charleston's busiest streets, we noticed an increase in litter and an increase in the number of homeless individuals. King Street, Calhoun Street, Meeting Street. The most revered streets in Charleston, but at times, also the most depressing. At that time, Tent City was massive. While it was unique, it was not sustainable. More needed to be done.
The more and more I think about this, the more it hit me that we can make an initiative that combats homelessness while also making Charleston a cleaner place to live. What makes this challenging is that we do not only have to get our residents on board, but the millions of tourists that walk our street every day. That is why I am proposing a program called: Charleston Charm.
We are special because of the people and landscape of this great city. Year after year, we are voted the best place to visit. That gives Charleston a charm like no other. No, we are not the first tourist destination to suffer from homelessness and litter. In fact, one of the cities that has done a wonderful program combating these issues is Ventura, California. Today, I had a wonderful conversation with the head of Parks and Recreation in Ventura. She was actually in the same role in Myrtle Beach, SC and is prepared to help us. Her and I have already discussed several ideas to get this program going. I will be presenting the plan to The Mayors' Commission on Homelessness and Affordable Housing on February 27th. There are many more ideas that are forthcoming and will be laid out in the presentation.
We will need stakeholders from the public and private sector. We will need the Charleston Police Department, Parks and Recreation Department, and many others to work together. Homelessness and litter are things that will never completely go away, however, it is time we work together to find way to bring the Charm of Charleston back again. I appreciate your support and ideas as we work to make this vision a reality.