Wednesday, November 22, 2006


In the year-plus since the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina changed the lives of thousands of families throughout the Gulf Coast region, churches, civic groups, and other organizations have worked hard to help those affected. Many families relocated to cities such as Houston and Memphis.

Of course, there are always those who will take advantage of the generosity shown for their own personal gain, and this story is especially shameful.

The Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ, one of the largest predominately African-American congretations in the Memphis area, decided it wanted to do something more for at least one family displaced by Katrina's wraft. The church purchased a $75,000 three bedroom, two bath home, and a committee was formed which interviewed dozens of families to decide who would be the best to help. When the decision was made in February, the family of Joshua Thompson was given, free and clear, the title and keys to the home.

The family never moved in. Instead, Thompson sold the home for a $13,000 profit and moved his family back to New Orleans.

"Take it up with God," an unrepentant Joshua Thompson told a TV reporter after it was learned that he and the woman he identified as his wife had flipped the home for $88,000.

Church members said they feel their generosity was abused by scam artists. They are no longer even sure that the couple were left homeless by Katrina or that they were a couple at all.

"They came in humble like they really needed a new start, and our hearts went out to them," said Jean Phillips, a real estate agent and member of the Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ. "They actually begged for the home."

The church was also shocked by an ungrateful interview the couple gave with WHBQ-TV in Memphis.

"I really don't like this area," said Delores Thompson. "I really didn't, and I didn't know anybody, so that's why I didn't move in and I sold it."

Thompson, reached at a New Orleans phone number by The Associated Press on Tuesday, thanked the church for its generosity but said she saw nothing wrong in selling the three-bedroom, two-bath house.

"Do I have any legal problems? What do you mean? The house was given to me," she said. "I have the paperwork and everything."

She refused further comment and hung up.

What sorry human beings.


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