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Renovations spruce up Christ House in Alexandria

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For the residents of Christ House, the 200-year-old building in Old Town Alexandria that houses Catholic Charities’ transitional home for homeless men, getting new carpeting is like a breath of fresh air.

“The main thing (the residents are) saying is, ‘I really like the smell of the new carpets,’” said Christ House Program Director John Croft.

But residents are also enjoying newly painted walls, renovated bathrooms, and new lighting, flooring, countertops and additional cabinets in the dining room and kitchen — all part of a six-week, $83,000 renovation project donated by HomeAid of Northern Virginia, K. Hovnanian Homes and its partner subcontractors this spring. The project has replaced 12-year-old, worn carpeting with hardwood flooring throughout the first floor and new gray carpeting on the stairways, offices, community room and bedrooms.

“I think it makes them feel validated,” said Croft. “It makes them feel like someone cares about their space. The residents don’t always get someone who cares about the details of their lives. That’s what Christ House does.”

Christ House provides 14 residents with a home and meals for 12-18 months. They receive employment-seeking skills, mental health counseling, financial literacy and clothing.  A small chapel, included in the renovations, is available for Mass and prayer.

The focus on helping men transition to stability particularly interested HomeAid, said its Communications Director and Program Manager Kathryn Kovacs.

“Individual men take a backseat of every homeless population,” she said. “For me, that’s what made this project extra special. We’re all human beings who need a hand up on occasion, and this project offers so many programs.”

“The generosity of HomeAid of Northern Virginia and K. Hovnanian Homes toward Christ House was extraordinary,” said Catherine Hassinger, Catholic Charities director of community services. “The renovations were much needed, but we were at a loss how to tackle them due to the cost. Thanks to (them), we now have a clean, updated and efficient building to provide services to our homeless and low-income neighbors.”

Christ House also provides an evening meal to the homeless 365 days a year. It operates a St. Lucy Food Pantry and offers emergency financial assistance to people struggling to pay rent or utilities. A recently renovated thrift store re-opened last fall.

K. Hovnanian Homes supervised the project and 28 tradesmen worked on flooring, plumbing, electrical, framing, HVAC, painting and window blind installation, according to project manager Matthew Glakas.

Last year, HomeAid and partners completed a makeover at Catholic Charities’ St. Margaret of Cortona Transitional Housing for Families in Woodbridge.



© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019