Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg announced the Homeless to Hope Fund Wednesday at City Hall.
It’s part of his 10-point plan to close Tent City and help its occupants find a place to live
“To lend some direct assistance, a hand up again, to those who are in need to get a new start in life,” Tecklenburg said. “We are going to focus on those individuals that are currently living in Tent City and the purpose of the fund will be to help them with things like security deposits, first month’s rent.”
Two of the three co-chairs were in attendance, including Morris Brown AME Church pastor Chuck Watkins.
“I am delighted to be part of this coalition as we bring together the secular community with the faith community and basically doing what we are biblically mandated to do, clothing the naked and feeding the hungry – providing some resources to allow people to get their lives back on track,” said Reverend Chuck Watkins, pastor at Morris Brown AME Church.
The money from this fund will be allocated accordingly through a number of various agencies.
“We have a number of social workers in the various organizations of the Lowcountry. Homeless Coalition for example, family services, and they are an on-going part of what they do – maybe find one of the Tent City occupants a new apartment and they, through that process, will uncover that they need a security deposit and first month’s rent and whatever to help that person get relocated,” Tecklenburg said. “So then family services will ask our steering committee or they will request those funds and that’s a bit of the process we have but it won’t be too complicated.”
Someone who understands the importance of this hand up is Sheila Bell, who was once homeless.
“I had no hope and one day I just decided I’m going to sit here and wait for people to bring me things. A lady brought me a plastic bag full of soap, deodorant, lotion, hair things, toothbrush of my own,” said Bell, who is now the Midnight Ministry Coordinator at Canaan Missionary Baptist Church. “And then from that day on I felt like I had to work real hard to get where I need to go so here I am 15 years later. I’m not a rich person but I’m happy.”
She now spends time helping those who are in the same place she once was.
“Our church is starting an organization where we go to street ministries. We go out at night taking information helping people change their way of living,” Bell said.
She says she believes this new fund is a good thing for those in need in our community.
“I’m proud of the mayor and his office for putting it together I really am,” Bell said.
Of course, the ultimate goal is to help people land on their feet so we can tackle the homeless problem in our city one person at a time.
To donate to the Homeless to Hope fund, click here
You can also mail a check to:
Homeless to Hope Fund – Palmetto Project
Post office 21287
Charleston, SC 29413
Contributions can be made by governments, corporations, non-profits, and concerned citizens. All are tax-deductible.