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How one Greenville woman found home and family - Greenville News

Angela Harper has a big smile and a loud laugh. She’s a hotel housekeeper who loves spending time with her son and is saving up for a car.

Almost a year ago, she would hardly recognize herself.

Harper said she was addicted to crack cocaine. She was working a dead-end job where she couldn't get a raise.

She was homeless, bouncing around from motel to motel.

“It was hard. It was sad," Harper recalls from her time living at the now-closed Economy Inn. "I was just tired.

“I just wanted to get up on my feet so I could have a firm foundation and live with my son.”

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The motel was condemned on Jan. 13, displacing about 80 residents, due to a litany of code violations: inadequate plumbing, electrical issues, missing sections of drywall and unsanitary conditions, Greenville County code enforcement documents show.

On Jan. 13, when Harper got a knock on her door from code enforcement saying the motel was shutting down, she didn’t know what to do. The roof over her head was being taken away.

Where would she stay? Who would she call?

But when the folks from The Greenville Homeless Alliance stepped in, Harper’s life changed — for the better.

The Greenville Homeless Alliance, a coalition of public and private groups that help people who are homeless, was prepared to assist those staying at the Economy Inn through a response plan. The plan includes instructions for how the Homeless Alliance, city and county governments and local organizations can work together to prevent sudden closures leaving people with nowhere to turn — and to mobilize when it does happen.

Ma’ta Crawford, director and founder of Community Fresh Start, a GHA partner that helps people who are homeless, helped Harper get into recovery for her addiction. She helped her move into transitional housing and get a better paying job.

Harper has a 27-year-old, paralyzed son. She wanted to find a place they both could call home, and she saw an opportunity to achieve that.

“I just clung to her,” Harper said. “I remember telling her anything she wanted me to do, anywhere she wanted me to go, I was going to go and I was going to do it.”

Almost one year later, Harper did it. She has her own mobile home in Greenville and lives with her son. She smiles more, and she’s less timid.

“I wish I would have took a picture when I first met her, you know, because the lady that you see today is not the same lady that you see now,” Crawford said about Harper.

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It’s still a struggle somedays though, especially recovering from addiction, Harper said. When it gets tough, she calls family and friends to distract her.

“I can't sit up there and lie to you and say I don’t think about it,” Harper said. “But to me, you could think about it as much as you want to, as long as you don’t act on it.”

Harper’s goals are growing. Now that she has a steady job, she can save for a car. She’s excited to spend Christmas at home with her son.

“I can see above water,” Harper said.

Genna Contino covers affordable housing and gentrification for The Greenville News. Contact Genna at [email protected] or on Twitter @GennaContino. Subscribe to The Greenville News at