CLEAR LAKE, Texas (KTRK) -- Tents pitched beside freeways, beneath underpasses, and on rights of way have become common in Houston. But communities outside the city's core also encounter the homeless.
A group of churches in the Bay Area are addressing it by converting unused space in their churches for families without a place to stay. They are a part of a national organization called Family Promise.
Nineteen churches in the Clear Lake area offer rooms that are converted into sleeping spaces for parents and their children.
"The guest families that we serve are the invisible homeless," explained Family Promise of Clear Creek executive director Gayle Nelson. "They don't want anybody to know because in their minds, they don't relate to the homeless on the streets."
Amanda Klemme is one of the program's graduates. She had been in shelters with her children "but it was no place for kids," she said.
She had dealt with domestic violence, and had a job at a fast food restaurant, but it wasn't enough to get an apartment.
Unlike most shelters, Family Promise keeps parents and children together.
Klemme was accepted into the program, which provides more than shelter. Family Promise requires its guests to apply for jobs, provides computers for resume writing, and puts parents through financial literacy classes.
"It's hard work, and before they leave the program, we want them to have worked and received paychecks for several months," said Nelson.
Applicants are also screened and background checks are conducted. A total of 25 families have gone through the program in recent years.
They live in the space the churches provide for several weeks, then move to the next church in the group that is part of the program.
They also spend times at a "day house," where clothes can be washed. There's also a playroom for kids with plenty of toys.
"My boys loved that," said Klemme.
It's a program that transforms families living in cars, or rotating among relatives, into new lives, and Klemme said she's an example of that.
"I have a home now, a job I love, and my children are thriving in school," she said. "My family is being restored. I am blessed."
For more information, visit Family Promise of Clear Creek's website.
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Clear Creek nonprofit partners with 19 churches to help those in need find stable jobs and housing