Chicago allocates $2 million to expand youth shelters & services

Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) has announced which agencies will receive $2 million in funding to expand homeless youth drop-in centers and overnight (low-threshold) shelter beds.

The funding allocation announced Jan. 25 is a result of advocacy by the HELLO youth activism group, co-run by CCH and the Night Ministry, and the Chicago Task Force on Homeless Youth.

This initiative establishes three regional drop-in centers and targeted outreach for unaccompanied homeless youth, including pregnant and parenting youth, and links them to support services and stable housing. 

The drop-in centers will coordinate service with youth overnight shelters in their regions and aim to serve 1,000 youth in the course of a year. The awarded agencies are Broadway Youth Center (Howard Brown Health Center) for the North Side; La Casa Norte for the West and Southwest sides; and Teen Living Programs for the South Side.

Through this initiative, DFSS will also expand existing youth shelters from seasonal to year-round, improve access to youth shelter services throughout the city, and invest in 74 new beds. The total year-round beds available under this program model will almost triple, from 40 bed to 114 beds.

The overnight shelters will provide low-threshold, low-demand overnight shelter services to unaccompanied homeless youth and link them to support services and stable housing. They will coordinate services with youth drop-in centers in their respective regions.

The awarded shelter agencies include:

* The Night Ministry, which will expand its 20-bed Lakeview shelter to year-round operations

* A Safe Haven Foundation, which will expand to year-round operations and add five beds, a total of 25 beds at their shelter in the North Lawndale community

* La Casa Norte, which will open 40 beds in two new shelters in Logan Square and New City, and dedicate five new beds for parenting youth with children at San Jose Obrero Mission on the Lower West Side.

* Unity Parenting & Counseling, which will open a 24-bed shelter in Englewood.