HOUSTON – A Houston family is getting back on its feet after being homeless, thanks to a new outreach program run by the Harris County Sheriff's Office.
The homeless outreach team, which was started in November, helps homeless people by giving them basic necessities and helping them find shelter. So far, it has helped more than 200 people, including 30 people who have found temporary housing.
There are an estimated 4,500 homeless people in Harris County on any given night.
Just before Christmas, Lt. Robert Henry, who is part of the team, met Da'Jon Gradney's family. The 23-year-old is married and has four children under age 5. In October, he lost his job and eventually the family ended up on the streets.
"We were roaming the streets of Houston with our stuff in a basket and in a stroller and the kids carrying what they could," Gradney said.
"They just seemed like a special family to us," Henry said.
Henry helped them find temporary housing at the Salvation Army in Conroe, and that was just the beginning.
"My girlfriend and I went there and decided we were going to buy Christmas gifts for them," Henry said.
Then Henry told one of his neighbors about the family, and the neighbor decided to put them up in a hotel for Christmas Eve and Christmas. After that, the neighbor decided to help find them an apartment. He is also paying the first three months of rent and he helped furnish it.
"This is unbelievable," Gradney said while sitting on his new couch. "I mean, I didn't think we would get any of this."
Since his initial meeting with Henry, Gradney has managed to get back on his feet. He is now working maintenance during the week and at a car wash on the weekends.
"I don't have to sleep on the floor. We don't have to sleep in separate rooms any more. We're together and we're happy," Gradney said. "We're not going to be homeless again."
"It's a very fulfilling feeling and a very humbling feeling to be able to have the privilege to help them," Henry said.