My stay at Christ House

Two people turn towards a man walking out of a door, who is in between them

Former U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson visits Christ House. Photo courtesy of HUD/Flickr

Christ House is not a shelter or hospital. It is just a Christ House, a house of Christ. For me, it is a “parashelter” on one side and a “parahospital” on the other side. I usually call it a hospital-shelter, too, to make a distinction between its service as a shelter and its service as a hospital.

I’m here to explain to everyone the particulars of that wonderful place that holds all my attention, day by day. This is what I can tell everyone to keep in mind as one of the inhabitants of that place.

The first time I got there, I was confused because I didn’t get a response to my unanswered question, which was: Is it a shelter or a hospital?

But I did find the answer. I have met nice people, such as nurses, who devote themselves to the work and help other people to improve.

They confiscated all my items and changed all my clothes. They gave me clean stuff to wear. They took me through the medical consultation process. They made sure my health was acceptable before allowing me to live there.

I have great showers where nobody rushes me. There are nurses taking care of each person in that house. My vital signs and other health checks are done every day.

Our medications are given to us on time and as prescribed. Before, when I was living on the street, I used to take my medications as I could and according to whether I had eaten anything or not. Sometimes I wouldn’t take medications because of a lack of food in my stomach. But at Christ House, they follow prescription instructions and everyone takes their medications on time. Everything is going as if we were in a hospital.

Even though they do everything like a hospital, it is important to underline that everyone inside experiences homelessness. But it is not exclusively a shelter or a hospital.

To live in Christ House, you need to follow some rules and there are some conditions. You have to be experiencing homelessness and have a health condition, and most people are under medication treatment and need to be watched to heal. Some left a hospital and were sent to Christ House instead of being sent back to the street to continue the healing process.

Some people who are experiencing homelessness and having some health problems, especially people leaving a hospital, require a follow-up with a nurse and further treatment and care.

Christ House acts as an alternative for both a hospital and a shelter. There, you have the right to take a shower, get your hair cut, get your clothes washed, get meals and take your medications as your doctor recommends. 

You have a social worker and can attend community activities such as a writing group, art class, yoga class and more. Sometimes we leave Christ House and go to the movies and other places. We have a library and two TV rooms. We have the right to go outside, but not too far without permission. 

If you don’t respect the rules, you can get kicked out and will go back on the street.

To be honest, Christ House is the most unique place I have seen in my life. The people there take care of people they don’t know with decency. They treat us like decent human beings and don’t judge us. We live like a real family and every Sunday we worship God in the community place, where we send prayers to all the people that we miss and to the world.

Hopefully, we can have many more places like Christ House, especially for women and all other categories of people experiencing homelessness. It should be expanded internationally to help many more people. 

I have so much to say about that place and I hope they continue to take care of people. Over there, Christ really visits. I can feel it in different ways. This place needs to be supported, people need Christ House to continue to live longer.

Gigi Dovonou is an artist and vendor with Street Sense Media. 

Issues |Shelters

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