Stories From The Archives: Something Special At Kairos House

Project HOME
Kairos House

During our 35th anniversary year, we are digging into our deep archives to share stories from our past that highlight some of the many milestones we have celebrated over our nearly four decades of service to Philadelphia. 

Below is a history of our Kairos House residence on North Broad Street, one of our oldest.


Kairos is an ancient Greek word meaning the “right or opportune moment.” The ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos and kairos. While the former refers to chronological or sequential time, the latter signifies “a time in between,” an undetermined period of time in which “something” special happens.

Kairos. It’s that time which breaks through the chronos with a shock of joy, that time we do not recognize while we are experiencing it, but only afterwards, because kairos has nothing to do with chronological time. In kairos we are completely unselfconscious, and yet paradoxically far more real than we can ever be when we’re constantly checking our watches for chronological time.

Project HOME’s Kairos House is a transitional residence for formerly homeless men and women with a mental health diagnosis. Residents come from varying backgrounds with a variety of personalities, and together they create the harmonious whole of the Kairos community.

Built in 1892, the historic building at 1440 N. Broad Street began as a Jewish school, lasting through the 1970’s. When Project HOME first spotted it in 1991, it had been vacant for many years (though homeless persons had squatted in the building, making for a natural connection). In the winter of 1991-1992, volunteer work crews miraculously transformed the dingy, dirty property into a safe and welcoming emergency shelter for men on the first floor. The following year, a more extensive renovation was undertaken, and the top two floors opened as a specialized mental health residence for men and women, operated in conjunction with the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Mental Health. In 1993, residents temporarily relocated while the building went through a great transformation, re-opening in 1994 as a transitional progressive demand residence where formerly and chronically homeless residents work towards moving to more independent living.

There is no set limit to the amount of time it takes to become more independent, and Kairos residents are at all different levels of independent living. But every day something special happens: a resident starts a job, facilitates a recovery group, or organizes a block clean up day.

Often the ordinary seems extraordinary at Kairos House. Those are the times such as when a resident who has been on the streets off and on for over a decade suddenly realizes he’s lived at Kairos House for a year now, the longest he’s ever lived at one location in all of his adult life. Or when a resident begins to take medication for the first time in her life at age 70, allowing her to finally experience a day without symptoms such as voices that constantly interfere with her interactions.

Kairos House is a place where residents create new goals, renewing their mind, body, and spirit. Residents and members of the community participate in the new creation each and every day, building their next steps in life while reinventing ways to uphold the dignity of each resident, no matter where they are on their path to recovery.

None of us are home until all of us are home®