Forced Church Services for Women Anger Shelter Residents

By Janet

I’ve stayed at Angeline Christian Home. That place is a trip. They’re only interested in saving your soul. They don’t help you to resolve any of the problems that made you homeless in the first place. They don’t refer you to any agency you could get help from, They just want to get you into church.

. You’re only allowed to stay there for two weeks. If they like you they let you stay there for another two weeks. After that you can’t come back for at least one year. You have to be in by 6:00pm. Dinner is at 6:00, cleanup and chores are at 7:00, mandatory Devotion services are at 8:00pm, and it’s lights-out at 10:00pm. You have to attend their church every Sunday or you get thrown out. I really don’t agree with that. I would like to go to my own church or have the right to go to a different church and still have access to the shelter.

I think their policy of forcing you to go to their church and their services turns a lot of people away from God. I know I don’t want to go to church again, at least not for a long time. The rules here really aren’t all that bad. You have to do your assigned chores. You can’t take any food into your room. You have to be in when they tell you and go to their services.

The shelter really doesn’t work in your best interests. You have to be up by 6:00 even if you have a job and can’t be in till a little later. There is no leniency, if you can get there at 6:10 you’re not allowed in. In fact, trying to come in late gets you thrown out of the shelter until next year. It’s really stupid that you would have to give up your job to stay at the shelter. You need the job to get on your feet and get out of their shelter. It’s really crazy. Angeline really is a last resort. That’s the place you go only when all the other shelters are full.

I really can’t stand the fact that there is no privacy here. The house is only one floor. There are four bedrooms with four beds each. There are no doors on any of the bedrooms and you can hear everyone’s business. The house was designed to be a shelter and it is really quite beautiful. They put all that money into a house yet couldn’t put in four doors. Sometimes when you’re having problems you need a little privacy, so you can think. You can’t do that with all the noise. Some of the women here have kids and it’s difficult to drown out the noise of the kids to think.

Homeless Woman Praises Christian Shelter

By Stacie

I stayed at the Angeline Christian Home and the church on East 30th. Out of the two, Angeline is the best. At the Christian Home, you don’t have to worry about getting your stuff stolen when you take a shower. You have a room at the home. I stayed there for a month and I wish I could have stayed there longer. I like it there. The staff is wonderful. They really try to help you get your life on the right track. If you have a problem the staff is willing to listen and give you the guidance you need to make the right decisions.

The house and yard are beautiful, it’s so much better than staying at shelters like the one on 30th. Here you have some space and a beautiful environment. There are two TV rooms here and a playroom for kids. There are only sixteen beds so you don’t have all of the overcrowding.

We had devotion services every night and we went to church on Sunday. A lot of the women who came there left because they didn’t like having to go to prayer services. Well, the trashy people left. That’s why there wasn’t any theft there, only the God fearing people stayed. I really shouldn’t say that. Some people didn’t like it because there was structure. You had to get up at a certain time, you had chores to do. You had to be in at a certain time, etc. Some people didn’t like being told what to do or when to do it. They felt they were adults and had the right to do what they want when they want.

They didn’t realize you can’t do what you want when you’re living under someone else’s roof. When I lived with my parents my parents had rules. I knew I had to respect my parents wishes or move out of their home. They have to realize rules are there for a reason. Without order you have chaos. I really liked Angeline. I wish the shelter would let you stay longer than a month.

Editor’s Note: Stacie is a homeless woman. She was interviewed at CHCH Women’s Center.

Copyright for the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio Issue 27 May 1998