Taking Back Out Neighborhoods: Sober House

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Memphis preacher wants to help recovering drug addicts and alcoholics by opening Sober House, a new homeless shelter near Highland Heights.

According to Larry Hunter, the bus he once drove for MATA often became a rolling homeless shelter in winter months.

"My boss didn't know about it," he said in a recent interview.  "I don't work there any more! That's where I started the Sober House. I started on the city bus."

Now, Hunter has rented 3401 Bowen, where he needs more bunk beds and much more...

"We need refrigerators and stoves," he said, "just basic things a household would need. Air conditioning units...we need about three of those."

But Hunter also needs a staff and a business plan for overseeing a houseful of needy, recovering people.

Neighborhood watchers like Pearline Jones welcome Sober House, but want to see tight controls in place.

"Before he let them move in there, he needs to have a staff. Just monitoring everything and making sure nothing get out of hand," Jones said.

Hunter, his wife, and new baby are long on compassion for the homeless but short on specifics on how they will operate. Their idea is to offer free housing to recovering alcoholics and drug addicts after they've been through treatment.

The non-denominational preacher said his heart for the poor comes from being the 13th of 21 children and the son of a mother who ran a shelter in Wisconsin.

"Helping the homeless is all I know. We've seen people on drugs. We've seen people get delivered off of drugs. We've seen people on alcohol that God turned their life around," Hunter said.

Those who take the steps to recovery may find shelter for new-found sobriety here. But first Larry Hunter is going to need a lot of help preparing his dream house, Sober House, on Bowen Avenue.

Bowen has tax exempt status for Sober House, meaning all donations are tax deductible.

But one requirement is to have a board overseeing the charity, something Hunter currently lacks.

If you'd like to help Larry Hunter and Sober House, call 901-581-2860 or email soberhouse3@yahoo.com

Click here to send an email to Joe Birch.