After raising money to provide housing for the homeless parents of a toddler who was found wandering barefoot in LOVE Park last year, a Philadelphia ministry is close to evicting the couple.
“This couple doesn’t want change,” said Brian Jenkins of CHOSEN 300. “What they want is a free ride. And we’re all out of free rides. We’re interested in providing avenues to people that want to try to get up.”
Last October Mike Jones’ and Angelique Roland’s 2-year-old son Jeremiah was found wandering alone and barefoot in LOVE Park. Jones and Roland told police they had been kicked out of a home and had spent the night in a cardboard box near LOVE Park’s visitor’s center and Jeremiah had wandered off while they were sleeping. Jeremiah as well as his 4-year-old sister were then placed in DHS custody.
After an outpouring of support from the public, CHOSEN 300, an inter-denominational Christian ministry that helps the homeless, launched a campaign to raise $12,000 to secure housing for the couple for one year. Yet barely 11 weeks into the lease, the group announced they had to end the commitment and evict the couple.
“Initially we were very optimistic to help the couple move ahead, however they rejected services and failed to comply with the judge's orders in which the children have not been returned,” CHOSEN 300 wrote in a press release. “Due to the uncooperative nature of the couple, but primarily due to the children not returning to the home, CHOSEN 300 ended the lease with the landlord on Jan 5, 2016 in which a 30 day notice was given to both the landlord as well as the couple. Mike and Angelique are now refusing to leave the property putting the landlord in a difficult situation."
Jenkins told NBC10 the couple ran up a $600 room service charge at a hotel before they got the house, missed a child custody hearing, resisted counseling and failed multiple drug tests.
Jones and Roland told NBC10 they attended court-ordered counseling but claimed 11 weeks wasn’t enough time for them to completely leave their life on the street behind.
“He doesn't realize there are steps people have to take,” Jones said. “Sometimes people bend a little bit. And you have to give a person time to right himself back up!”
Jenkins says the remainder of the $12,000 that was raised will go towards an educational account for Jeremiah and his sister. The children remain in DHS custody.
“We say to the public don’t lose hope,” Jenkins said. “Don’t hold your head down because one family decided that they didn’t want the help that we were there to offer. But there are other families out there who are desperate for our help!”
CHOSEN 300 says that if the court tells them Jones and Roland are ready to get back custody of their children and the only impediment is housing, they'll release the remaining funds but the couple must find a place to live. Jones and Roland told NBC10 they are trying to find an attorney who will represent them at no cost.
"He wants to sit here and make us feel like and look like we're the type of people where we want to be lazy or we've got a house and we're trying to lay back now," Roland said. "We're really not that type of people."