Almost four years ago, Mr. Delgado first arrived at Christ House. Our clinical staff treated him for circulatory issues in his feet as a result of diabetes complications. Before his admission, he had been released on probation after a ten-year prison sentence. Like many returning citizens, he sought to rebuild his life, but he was confronted with obstacles that were difficult for him to overcome.
Mr. Delgado spent the next three years cycling between time on the street and treatments in the hospitals for ongoing concerns regarding his feet. One of his feet would later be amputated. During these unstable circumstances, he lost touch with his probation officer, and he briefly returned to prison after violating the terms of his probation. Upon his release, he struggled with substance use and the death of one of his close friends. Mr. Delgado hesitated to reach out to his probation officer, knowing the chances of going back to prison were high, and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest.
In the spring of 2022, Mr. Delgado returned to receive care at Christ House for an infection. This time, Mr. Delgado was determined to move forward. One of our case managers, Bill, partnered with Mr. Delgado to navigate the legal system and support his actions to break the cycles of incarceration and homelessness.
Like Mr. Delgado, many of our patients experience the feedback loop of incarceration and homelessness. In 2019, 82% of our patients receiving case management services reported prior prison or jail time, and approximately 19% of those patients had been released from incarceration less than a year before their admission. A history of incarceration makes it more difficult to find housing and secure employment. Conversely, homelessness leads to higher rates of recidivism.
Without a stable address, it was difficult for Mr. Delgado to keep in touch with his probation officer, making it more probable that he would return to prison. His frequent visits to the hospital also complicated his efforts to stay in touch with his probation officer.
When Mr. Delgado returned to Christ House, he had recently qualified for permanent supportive housing. For many returning citizens, qualifying for permanent supportive housing is rare, because applicants must prove that they have experienced at least one year of chronic homelessness or at least four instances of homelessness in the previous three years that add up to one year. Time spent in prison or jail does not count toward these requirements.
During his time at Christ House, Mr. Delgado showed through his words and his actions that he was ready to move toward healing. He attended recovery meetings while at Christ House and met with our on-site addictions counselor. Though he was still hesitant about meeting with his probation officer again, he agreed to show up at a hearing regarding the warrant for his arrest. Bill provided reports and testified in front of the court that Mr. Delgado was doing all the right things to stay out of prison, including maintaining his sobriety, receiving medical care, and moving toward permanent supportive housing. Mr. Delgado’s strength and perseverance to rebuild his life encouraged the judge to quash the warrant for his arrest and pave the way toward his future.
After the hearing, Mr. Delgado called his parents to tell them the good news. Through this entire process, Mr. Delgado’s parents had been a steady support system. When Bill thanked them for their support, Mr. Delgado’s father only had one thing to stay:
“As long as I exist in this world, I will help my son.”
Before he left Christ House on Halloween 2022, Mr. Delgado had already identified a stable housing unit. He was admitted to a medical transitional living facility while he waited for his unit to be ready. To this day, Mr. Delgado still comes by Christ House to attend church, participate in recovery meetings, and enjoy the life of this community. Mr. Delgado’s story reveals the power of perseverance and community and shows us that we can all find ways to move forward, despite the challenges in our lives.
For so many of our patients, Christ House represents an opportunity to start over and rebuild. Our patients deserve the chance to thrive. As long as Christ House exists in the world, we will meet our patients where they are to break the cycles of incarceration and homelessness and cultivate healing and hope within our patients’ lives.
Everyone, from our patients, volunteers, and staff, participates in this life-giving work. If you would like to get involved by volunteering at Christ House, you can contact Heidi Mills, our Volunteer Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also support this important work by making a financial contribution at https://christhouse.org/donate/ways-to-give/.