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City tells church the homeless have to go

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

If churches are supposed to help people, why is the City of Houston telling a Southwest Houston church to stop?

The city said the homeless staying in New Deliverance Church have to go because it is not safe.  The 29 residents said they have lived in plenty of unsafe environments and the church is not one of them.

"It's not Hyatt.  It's not even Motel 6, but it's home," Pastor Janice Caslin said.

Clyde Thompson said he found a miracle at the church.

"This is the first time I've ever got out of prison and I've been clean and sober.  I've been out for a year.  Normally as soon as I get out, the first thing I do is go get high," Thompson said.

The 60-year-old said this is the longest he has been sober in nearly 40 years.  Since 1974, he has been in and out of prison because of drugs.  He said he has tried other shelters and programs, but there is something about being in New Deliverance that has saved him from himself.

"People don't understand this.  It's going to be hard because I need this.  I really need this but they don't care about us. We're all supposed to be the same.  We're all supposed to be as one but we are not, not when you're trying to take my home from me," Thompson said as tears streamed down his face.

"I like it here. I'm comfortable here.  My kids are comfortable here.  They're breaking up a family.  They may not think that, but we're all a family," 24-year-old Jessica Bormann said.

Bormann grew up in foster homes and has lived on the street.  She and her two girls now live at the church.

"I'm content here.  I feel love that I haven't felt before," she said.

Pastor Caslin said she has been taking in the homeless here in her church since 1993.  

Less than two months ago, the City of Houston informed her she needed to tag the fire extinguishers, have working exit lights, put in a vent hood over the stove and get a plumber to check for gas leaks.  As she made the changes, the city stopped by again.

"… Gave me papers saying they wanted the men to leave immediately and we need to put in a sprinkler system in the sleeping area and fireproof walls," Caslin said.

She cannot afford those changes right now.

"I'm really devastated that the city would go to this measure, especially since they just contacted us in September.  They haven't given us a chance to correct the problems," she said.

"Closing this down is going to do me a lot of harm because it's going to throw me out into an infested world that I'm not prepared to be into right now," Thompson said.

City officials said they support New Deliverance's mission, but they want everyone to be safe, so the residents will have to go.

If you would like to help these 29 people keep their home, Caslin would love to hear from you.  You can reach her at 713-728-8288.  The folks at the church said this is especially tough because the holidays are right around the corner.

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