There are no signs or other indications to suggest that the house at 1422 N. Fillmore St. in Arlington is any different from the other two-story houses in the Clarendon area.
Since it opened in July, Arlington's only licensed residence for adults has become a temporary home to seven persons suffering from mental illness.
Residents turn over their benefit checks and receive room and board, plus help from a full-time counselor. They are not required to do chores, but are encouraged to attend day programs at the community mental health center on North George Mason Drive.
"My parents love it. I hate it," said one young man, who moved into the home recently.
It's crowded there, he said, but that is not the problem. He doesn't want to live there because he feels it labels him as being sick.
He has been through the system, spending time at Western State Hospital in Staunton, the large mental hospital that serves Northern Virginians, and the Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute, a short-term facility in Fairfax County. His conversation was sprinkled with references to people he thought were out to get him.
His aged parents live in another state, and for a while he lived on his own, said Nancy Jarosz of Arlington Community Residences Inc. But he was evicted when he punched holes in the walls of the apartment.
Since he was not openly a threat to anyone, he was not committed to a state institution and landed for a while in another group home, Jarosz said.
"Most of our people go through the system again and again," she said.
"I hear really strange voices," the young man acknowledged at one point. "I hear them saying, 'I'll help.' "