Homeless shelter in danger of shutting down

HOUSTON Pastor Janice Caslin of New Deliverance Church says the congregation lost a lot of members, and thereby donations the homeless shelter depended on after an explosion at a chemical plant just a few steps away across the street.

Times have been tough for 30-year-old Raven Gillard and her two children. They are among 33 people living at a shelter run by New Deliverance Church and Pastor Caslin.

"It means a safe haven," Gillard said. "She's helped us out a lot."

But recently the homeless residents at Second Chance Refuge Ministry have been dealing with the reality this shelter could soon be forced to close its doors.

"Well, the bills have been mounting up," said Pastor Caslin. "Until a couple of weeks ago, we actually didn't have food -- for not even the next day."

Pastor Caslin explained that the non-profit shelter survives off of donations -- donations that have been dwindling since Caslin says membership dropped after a huge explosion at the Marcus Oil and Chemical plant across the street back in 2004.

"Now you have a handful of people that's trying to carry the load that maybe, say 200 people carried at one time," Pastor Caslin said.

The Second Chance shelter is not only home to Gillard and her kids, but Caslin says the church is helping more than 30 men with a temporary place to stay, including former addicts and people on parole and probation trying to transition into productive lives.

"We need funding to help us from month to month," Pastor Caslin said. "We're constantly getting guys from TDC every week, sometimes two or three times a week."

Caslin says she's been reaching out to several local and state agencies seeking help for the shelter, without success. A couple of donors recently helped stock the pantry and pay the shelter's overdue light bills. Residents say they just don't want to see the shelter shut down.

"It's very important because it helps us," Gillard said. "It helps us get on our feet."

Anyone interested in helping with the shelter can contact New Deliverance Church at 713-728-8288.

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