PICKENS COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) — The Pickens County Shelter of Hope tries to get people experiencing homelessness back on their feet.
But the owners, Sunshine and Pastor Tracy Gantt, said they have been receiving threatening messages online. They said people in the community accuse their residents of committing crimes around the city.
“We’re tired of the harassment,” Sunshine Gantt said. “We’re tired of the accusations. Our main goal is to help people. It feels like we’re being hindered from doing that.”
The Gantts said the threats recently got worse.
“Those Facebook posts actually escalated to people physically entering our facility and threatening and harassing our residents in person.”
The Gantts claimed their residents can not be guilty of the crimes because they were committed at night when residents are required to stay inside the shelter.
“There’s no way people in this building will be committing crimes because this building shuts down at a certain time,” said Pastor Tracy Gantt.
“Right by the shelter, there were several cars that were broken into,” said Pickens Police Chief Randal Beach. “Of course immediately, [some thought] it must be tied to the homeless shelter. Turns out, it was not.”
7News reached out to people who complained about the shelter on social media. They either declined an interview or did not respond to a request for comment. However, the Pickens Police Department said it does receive complaints about the homeless.
“I think around here, the calls that come in and people are concerned about are panhandling in front of a business,” Beach said.
But, Beach said, the shelter should not be blamed for that.
“They’re fulfilling their mission,” he said. “That is to give people a safe place to lay their head.”
“We want everyone to know we did not bring homelessness to Pickens County,” said Pastor Track Gantt. “We are here to solve the problem.”