Behind the lush pines and well-trimmed palmettos, behind the golf courses and palatial homes of Hilton Head Island, lie pockets of poverty that community advocate Gwen Bampfield calls “our Katrinas.”
There, off rock-strewn dirt roads, stand rotting trailers without plumbing and refrigeration that — as bad as they are — would be welcome havens for those who bounce, week to week, among relatives and friends.
“It’s not all money, yachts and million dollar homes” on Hilton Head, said Bampfield, president of the ACCESS network, an AIDS service organization with offices in Beaufort and Hampton counties.
A broad range of social services help the core clientele of ACCESS, those who have tested positive for HIV.
“Housing is one of the most pressing issues with HIV clients,” Bampfield said.
Once 55 percent white and 45 percent black, ACCESS’ clientele now is almost 75 percent black. Increasingly, the list also includes Latinos.
The agency has launched a homelessness initiative to help people in the Lowcountry — not just those with HIV/AIDS.
The organization also has joined the Beaufort Housing Authority and Sisters of Charity to help people develop job skills and works toward homeownership.
“We don’t want to just help people by paying a bill,” Bampfield said.