New plan surfaces to tackle chronic homelessness in Chicago

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The Shield of Hope is the newest service under the Army’s Bed and Bread programs, which are designed to meet the needs of individuals and families facing hunger and shelter instability.

The Salvation Army has partnered with the City of Chicago to create the City’s first rapid-response emergency homeless assessment and response center to provide families facing homelessness personalized service and support. The new facility—The Shield of Hope—is an integral part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Plan 2.0: A Home for Everyone” a broad-ranging plan to end homelessness in Chicago.

The Shield of Hope, which will be located across from the Army’s Freedom Center campus in Chicago’s West Humboldt Park neighborhood, will provide families in crisis an assessment, compassionate support, and a referral to the program that best meets their immediate needs, including living with family or friends, shelter or other temporary arrangement.

“The City of Chicago stands firm on our commitment to providing shelter and services to those in need, so that no family is forced to sleep on the streets,” Emanuel said. “Thanks to our partnership with the Salvation Army, we will create an innovative triage response system that prevents homelessness whenever possible by connecting our families with the care they need to return to housing and stability.”

The Shield of Hope will have 75 client rooms with private bathrooms for families unable to find shelter elsewhere. The $10 million facility will also provide: a laundry room, cafeteria, counseling, life skills training, support services, and assistance finding and obtaining permanent housing.

Families staying at the Shield of Hope will also have access to an array of services at the Freedom Center, including treatment for substance abuse and recreational and educational classes for children

The Shield of Hope is the newest service under the Army’s Bed and Bread programs, which are designed to meet the needs of individuals and families facing hunger and shelter instability. The Bed and Bread programs help those who are most vulnerable access emergency shelter, groceries, nutritious meals and utility and rent payments in order to stay in their home.

The funding for the construction of Shield of Hope has been provided by an anonymous gift, but funding is needed to support the ongoing support services critical to helping families achieve and maintain stability. The facility is slated for a spring 2018 opening.

“We are committed to providing these essential services to the residents of Chicago who are most in need,” said Lt. Colonel Charles Smith, Chicago Metropolitan Divisional Commander. “As the largest direct provider of social services in the Greater Chicago area for more than 125 years…we are ready and prepared to serve those in need through this partnership with the City.

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