Changing Minds

Changing Minds

Place to Call Home for Homeless Women

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Pat Lawson Muse visits a DC shelter that helps turn things around for homeless women battling mental illnesses.

    Many in our community who are homeless also suffer with mental health issues. Homeless women with mental health diagnoses are finding shelter and the road to recovery at a special little place they call home in northeast Washington.

    Dynise Coogler, 59, is doing great and feeling fine. But a few years ago, she was far from it.

    “I would have a very high high and automatically go to a very low within an hour,” she said.

    Coogler is homeless and has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. She knew something was wrong and she needed help. She found it at Hyacinth’s Place, a tiny haven for homeless women with mental health issues.

    Founder and director Urla Barrow said Hyacinth’s Place is helping to break a vicious cycle.

    “What we are trying to do is get to the bottom of the issues that brought them to homelessness,” Barrow said. “The women are recycling in the system and addressing those mental health issues is as important to us as the housing.”

    Women who come here get comprehensive services - mental health therapy, help with medication and finances, learning enrichment. What they don’t find here, Hyacinth’s helps them find.

    Once here, they can stay as long as they need with no deadlines. They get private rooms, kitchenettes, bathrooms, dinners prepared by a chef and all the comforts of home

    Opening Hyacinth’s in the neighborhood was a challenge. Residents didn’t want a facility for homeless women with mental health issues in their backyard.

    But the women have planted a “healing garden” in their backyard and herbs on their balcony They are symbols of the new life and hope they have found here.

    Coogler has found work as an administrative assistant for Hyacinth’s and fresh inspiration for the poetry she writes to help heal her mind.

    “I may be hurt, yet I will wash my hurt away with tears. The way you love and cherish me, it lifts my wounded spirit so I am renewed on the constant caresses of your love.”