For nearly three decades a west suburban nonprofit has provided temporary shelter and essential services for those who experience homelessness. But as the COVID-19 pandemic began, Housing Forward had to throw out the playbook in an effort to keep their clients safe.
Last spring when the coronavirus took hold of Chicago, Housing Forward’s executive director Lynda Schueler said the organization had little time to react.
“We quickly moved from a rotating shelter to a rotating congregate shelter,” she said. “And after about six days we converted that model into moving everybody into hotels”
Forced to shut down seven temporary emergency shelters operating in Oak Park and nearby suburbs, Schueler said it was obvious the once successful model for shelter and housing would need to be revamped.
“At the outset of this as we moved people to hotels,” she said. “We knew that nobody was going back to the streets”
With funding, the team began working with local landlords to find permanent housing for those who qualify. Although their mission has always been to transition individuals into stable housing, COVID 19 created a new sense of urgency.
Currently serving more than 100 individuals, Housing Forward plans to place all of their clients in permanent housing by this fall.
The apartments are furnished and housing forward has begun a “Hotel to Home” campaign asking for donations for those essential household items.
Housing Forward. They are Chicago’s Very Own.