New Deliverance pastor Tracy Gantt said two of his parishioners are currently living at the church on King St. without another place to go. There’s no shelter close by, he said.
“They’re nodding their heads to the sermon, but you can look in their eyes and see they need some hope, and it’s hard to preach to them knowing that when they leave here, they really don’t have no where to go,” Gantt said. “Lets say you hear the sermon and you’re ready to get off drugs. You’re ready to get off alcohol. You’re ready to get out the gang. You’re ready to get off the streets. Where can you go?”
Gantt wants to open a shelter similar to the faith-based one in Anderson called Haven of Rest, which offers rehabilitation to those with addictions.
“It’s not just a homeless shelter. They let you stay there, but then they feed you with the word of God,” Gantt said.
Gantt knows very well what it’s like living on the streets. At one point in his life he hit rock bottom. He was a member of a gang and was dealing and using drugs. After getting out of prison, he found hope and a second chance at life at Haven of Rest and wants to offer the same to others in his hometown of Easley.
Gantt met with Easley city officials and said they’re talking about a long-range plan, but he said help is needed now.
“The church got broken into and when we got here the police took me to the people who done it. Eight years old. Fourteen years old. Looking for food. That’s what hurts,” Gantt said.
Easley Mayor Larry Bagwell said another private organization has also expressed interest in opening a homeless shelter, but what they’re wanting to do would require changes in the zoning ordinance, allowing for multiple housing units in an area.
Bagwell said the city’s isn’t up for taking this on alone, but if county officials got involved, the city might be able to help.
Travis Richardson is one of the New Deliverance parishioners who is currently living at the church. He’s been there for five days.
“Every day, I have to make the decision to live the right way and try to make it,” Richardson said. “I can’t really lock on to a good employment. Background checks play a part of it. I could have the credentials to be the president, but I have a background, so what do you do.”
Gantt said he’s now going to take his plea for help to the Pickens County Council.