- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - As Charleston evicts people from a tent city near an Interstate 26 ramp, Mayor John Tecklenburg is seeking donations for a fund to help them find permanent homes.

Tecklenburg announced Wednesday that the city is starting the Homeless to Hope Fund, according to local media reports.

The fund will provide money for security deposits, utility hookups and other costs to get those who are living in the encampment into permanent housing.

“We need to offer a hand up to people who need a new start in life. Living in a tent isn’t a good starting place,” Tecklenburg said.

As many as 100 tents were at the site earlier this month and city leaders have said people cannot remain in the tent city permanently. Two small sections of the encampment have already been cleared and officials hope to clear the entire area by the end of next month.

Local residents have been donating food, clothing and tents to those in the encampment for months.

Tecklenburg said the fund will operate until all the tent city residents have been relocated. There has been no decision whether the fund will remain in place to help other homeless people after that.

Earlier this week Tecklenburg met with 80 representatives from churches and other faith groups asking them to help the homeless.

He said some churches will essentially adopt a homeless person and help them find housing and possibly a job.

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