Homeless Couple Given Home Strips It To Buy Crack

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(Memphis) Police say a Memphis homeless couple given a free home this year has since stripped it for parts.

Police say the couple took everything inside this house to buy crack cocaine.

Patricia Douglas and Willie Banner got the home in February as part of a federal program to house 100,000 homeless people around the country.

Back in February, the couple was overjoyed to get placed in the house.

Now, it’s all boarded up.

“It was cold and I got wet last night,” said Banner in December 2012.

“It ain’t fun. It ain’t nice,” said Douglas.

They went from living on the streets to getting keys to their own house.

“I got my keys!” laughed Douglas in February.

Now Douglas and her boyfriend are in jail accused of stripping the duplex that they got to live in for free.

“I am shocked, really” said Kelcey Johnson, director of the Hospitality Hubs that takes applications from homeless people who want housing.

We talked to Johnson when Douglas and Banner got the house in North Memphis.

It had a bed, refrigerator, all the luxuries of a regular home.

That’s all gone now, police say it was stolen to buy crack cocaine. WREG was there Tuesday when police recovered the A/C unit they allegedly sold to their neighbor.

“I really feel bad for the landlord that put his property into this program,” said Johnson.

The program is “100 homes Memphis.”

Federal money is used to house homeless people.

Drug testing is not a part of it.

“Drug use and abuse alcohol use and abuse does not disqualify people for this program,” said Johnson.

In fact Johnson says only about one out of 30 who apply qualify for the program and it’s usually those with the most issues who get in, those that are chronically homeless.

Those who help decide which people get picked say changes could be possible.

“I think they should probably have treatment before housing,” said Thomas Anderson, outreach worker for Hospitality Hub who also sits on the panel that picks people for housing.

Both Banner and Douglas are locked-up on about $50,000 bonds.

Hospitality Hub says it’s seen other troubles with the homeless in housing but this is the first arrest or situation like this it’s heard about.

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