Chicago Sun-Times: Catholic Charities closing 4 centers, including two family shelters

By Tina Sfondeles and Becky Schlikerman

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago is closing two family shelters and two child development centers in Chicago July 1 because of “uncertainty around government funding,” a spokeswoman for the not-for-profit social service agency said Saturday.

Kristine Kappel said Catholic Charities will close these centers: St. Francis De Paula Interim Housing at 7811 S. Ellis in Chatham, Our Lady of Solace at 6212 S. Sangamon in Englewood, Grace Mission Child Development Center at 5332 S. Western Ave. in Gage Park and St. Aloysius Child Development Center at 1510 N. Claremont in Wicker Park.

“These decisions are never easy,” Kappel said. “After an exhaustive and comprehensive review of all of our 155 programs and locations, we determined it was not fiscally responsible to continue operating these locations. Like many non-profits, we are stretched beyond a point of fiscal capability.”

She said the agency will work with city officials and other community groups to “ensure these individuals, families and children have safe, caring places to live and learn.”

“We have been working closely with them to ensure that the families and individuals that will be impacted by the closures will have shelter or housing to go to before the doors close at the end of June,” said Matt Smith, a spokesman for the city Department of Family & Support Services, which provides funding for the Our Lady of Solace and St. Francis De Paula sites.

“We have already secured 60 beds — more than half the amount needed — and are working with Catholic Charities to secure the necessary information so that the remaining residents will have a place to stay,” Smith said. “We hope to be able to start relocating residents as early as the end of this coming week, and we are confident that everybody will be in place before the closures take place.”

Catholic Charities is one of the largest private, non-profit social service agencies in the Midwest, with than 160 locations in Cook County and Lake County serving more than 1 million people a year, according to the organization.

The two family centers that are being closed house one- or two-parent families with children up to 18 years old for a maximum stay of 120 days. Beside providing food and shelter, those centers have caseworkers to help residents apply for housing and search for jobs.

Grace Mission serves children 3 to 5 years old. St. Aloysius serves kids 2 to 5.

Employees were told Monday the centers will be closed because of a lack of funding from the city and the state. They were advised to look for other jobs, according to an employee who spoke on the condition of not being identified by name.

According to Catholic Charities’ 2014 annual report, the organization housed 1,726 people, including 1,139 children in its shelters and transitional apartments last year and helped care for 1,500 children at its nine child development centers.