Advocacy secures $2 million for Humboldt Park center for homeless youth & families

State capital funds have been committed to build a new supportive housing and community center that will serve homeless youth and families in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.

Gov. Pat Quinn, with (from left) State Sen. Willian Delgado, CCH's Rachel Ramirez, and La Casa Norte's Sol Flores (Photo by Julie Dworkin)
Gov. Pat Quinn, with (from left) State Senator William Delgado, CCH’s Rachel Ramirez, and La Casa Norte’s Sol Flores (Photo by Julie Dworkin)

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) proposed and advocated for the $2 million funding with Gov. Pat Quinn’s office. CCH collaborated with its Youth Committee of 44 service providers, including La Casa Norte, as well as the Chicago Task Force on Homeless Youth. 

“This will be a place of shelter for someone who is homeless… and we need to find new opportunities to finance housing for people who are homeless,” said Gov. Quinn, during a Saturday press conference outside La Casa Norte, 3533 W. North Avenue.

Working together to create more permanent housing options for unaccompanied youth in Illinois, CCH and youth advocates asked the governor to allocate discretionary capital funds to create longer-term housing for older youth who are homeless.

“Everybody in, nobody out.”

“We believe in working for the community good,” said Gov. Quinn. “Everybody in, nobody out.”

The funds will help La Casa Norte build a $17.9 million facility for unaccompanied youth and families who are confronting homelessness. Construction is planned to start in 2015 at a site next door to its North Avenue facility.

CCH and its Youth Committee advocate for more youth housing options. Through its No Youth Alone campaign, CCH advocates for longer-term housing that will complement overnight shelters and transitional housing slots that house youth up to two years. Of 374 youth beds in Chicago, only 20 beds currently offer longer-term, permanent housing.

CCH's Julie Dworkin speaks about the La Casa Norte project
CCH’s Julie Dworkin speaks about the La Casa Norte project (Photo by Beth Cunningham)

“This facility will help homeless youth get off the street, get an education, and get stable employment,” said CCH Policy Director Julie Dworkin.

What’s planned in 2015

La Casa Norte’s future facility will offer 25 apartments of supportive housing for youth and families, said Executive Director Sol Flores. With a design that will be built on five city lots, the facility will include a federally-qualified health center, a drop-in and anti-violence program for youth who are homeless, computer and job readiness training, after-school programs, nutrition services, emergency showers, and a food pantry.

The project will generate 175 jobs: 125 during construction and 50 jobs as services are implemented in the community, according to La Casa Norte.

“This project is an example of private donors and the public good coming together,” said Flores, the agency’s director since it opened in 2002.

Among those attending the press event were State Senator William Delgado and State Rep. Cynthia Soto, as well as CCH Youth Attorney Beth Cunningham and CCH Organizer Rachel Ramirez, both of whom offer outreach at La Casa Norte programs for homeless youth.

– Anne Bowhay, Media