ATLANTA - A FOX 5 I-Team investigation challenged an outreach ministry's program that claimed to house the homeless. The attorney general's Consumer Protection Unit agreed calling it "deceptive."
Families, already down on their luck, told the Fox 5 I-Team they paid money to be part of "Home in 30" seminars that promised to find them homes. The owner of Jars of Clay Kingdom Worship Center denied that's how things worked.
Here's a bit of what our hidden cameras captured during our 2014 investigation, "In less than 30 days we can rebuild your entire lives."
When you're homeless looking for shelter that is the sound of the fresh start.
"Ninety-eight percent of our clients get approved with a new apartment in 10 days or less," we heard at the seminar.
Jars of Clay sits in Atlanta's impoverished Pittsburgh neighborhood. In 2014 Pastor Anita Favors ran a program called "Home in 30" that today the state's Consumer Protection Unit says used "unfair or deceptive acts."
"When you hear the word church, when you hear the word non-profit, there's an element of trust that's just automatically built in. You don't expect there to be misrepresentations when you're dealing with an organization that's offering to help homeless people," said Shawn Conroy from the AG's Consumer Protection Unit
But "Home in 30" made a lot of claims. Organizers said $25 would be used to cover a background check, that the group was connected to all sorts of organizations that would get the homeless housed quickly.
This is what we heard at that seminar, "We introduce you to FEMA, HUD, local and private organizations and the United Way."
Mr. Conroy said, "That is not true."
Pastor Favors signed an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance with the CPU. She admits no wrongdoing, but Ms. Favors has agreed to change her business model. She was also ordered to pay more than $48,000 for fines and restitution to the people who paid $25 for a little bit of hope.
"Twenty-five dollars to you or me may not sound like a lot of money, but to some people, it's a lot of money. It might be all they have in the world," Shawn Conroy added.
The FOX 5 I-Team tried previously to sit down and talk with Pastor Favors about her "Home in 30" program and the accusations that participants weren't getting what they paid for. We had no luck.
We went back to Jars of Clay after news of the Assurance of Voluntary Compliance with the state. Again, no luck. Investigators told us that Pastor Favors is paying her fine in a timely manner.
In an email Ms. Favors said she would like to chat at some point, to bring us up to date with Jars of Clay's voluntarily compliance with the state and to show us how they continue to help house the homeless.
In the meantime, the state's agreement with Jars of Clay says a lot.
"You better mean it," said Shawn Conroy if you use "church, "homeless" and ask for someone's last $25.
If you feel like you are owed $25 that you paid to Jars of Clay's "Home in 30" program, this link will take you to the state's restitution request form.