Our mission is to transition people from housing crisis to housing stability.  We offer a full range of programs and services that are 1) participant-centered, 2) integrated, 3) modeled using best practices and 4) designed to reduce the length of time and impact of trauma associated with homelessness and housing instability.

Housing Forward impacts the lives of over 2000 adults and families with minor children each year. 

Click here to view our 2020-2022 Strategic Plan Summary

Our Comprehensive Solution...

Click the pie pieces for program details.

Our Solution: Program Pie Housing Emergency Aid Employment Shelter Outreach Support

Emergency Assistance, Prevention, Stabilization Services

PREVENTING HOMELESSNESS, a crisis response to housing instability

An accident, loss of job or unforseen crisis can impact any household.  For a household already experiencing an unstable housing situation a reduction in houeshold income can lead to the loss of housing.

Housing Forward' Emergency Assistance program is an intervention to stave off the loss of housing through:

  • Financial Assistance for eviction prevention (rent assistance), security deposits, and utility bills and assistance with negotiating payment plans.  
  • Referrals for urgent and basic necessities.
  • Stablization and Shelter Diversion services include assessment and linkage to resources as alternatives to the emergency shelter.
  • Budgeting and Financial Literacy sessions to educate clients on how to create a plan focused on financial stability.
DROP-IN Location:  Visit us at our Oak Park office, 6634 W. Roosevelt Rd, 2nd Floor.
Monday, Thursday and Friday 9am-3pm
Tuesday 9am-1pm and 3pm-7pm; Wednesday 9am-1pm
Additional hours by appointment
Pre-Screening for Homeless Prevention is managed by the Suburban Cook County Call Center at 877-426-6515 
More information about Emergency Assistance, eligibility and document requirements can be found here.
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Sojourner House & Engagement

BEFORE HOUSING COMES OUTREACH and ENGAGEMENT.  Ending homelessness requires meeting people where they are geographically, physically, and mentally.

Homelessness is traumatizing.  Trained staff are mobile and provide proactive engagement. 

  • In-reach: a team of Engagement Specialists are assigned to the PADS Shelter and Transitional Shelter programs to 1) connect clients to services, 2) assess for housing needs, and 3) who maintain a case load for clients identified as chronically homeless.
  • Street Outreach: a team of Outreach & Engagement Specialists are in the field, spending their days, and occassional evenings and weekends, assigned to finding, engaging and connecting with persons living on the streets, in their cars, or other places not meant for human habitation to 1) provide basic needs (food, water, clothing), 2) connect those on the streets to our Support Center, 3) assess for housing needs.
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Emergency Shelter


  • The PADS Shelter program provides seasonal, mid-September to mid-May, overnight shelter for 40 to 70 persons per night.  Dinner, breakfast and sack lunches are available.  On site services include Health Clinic, Legal Clinic and nightly Engagement Specialists.  Showers are available on select nights.  Dedicated family sites are available Sunday, Thursday and Friday.
  • The Summer Transitional Shelter is available June through August for up to 15 persons per night.  On site services include case management, support group activities and life skills.
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Supportive Services & Outreach


Where can I shower?  Store my belongings? Receive mail? Access case management services, basic primary care, and legal assistance?

Our day time Support Center at 1851 S. 9th Ave, Maywood, is open 5 days a week for clients to access:

  • Basic needs and address personal hygiene - showers, laundry, clothes closet
  • Phones, a physical address to receive mail available and a computer lab
  • Assistance in securing government issued identification.
  • Assistance with applying for benefits - SNAP, Medicaid, TANF, etc.

Case management - Case Managers are available to provide personalized assistance to guide a clients' focus from survival to their highest level of self-sufficiency. Case Managers assist with enrollment in entitlement benefits, provide linkage to employment resources and health and behavioral health services.

Health Clinic - In partnership with resident physicians from Loyola's Strich School of Medicine and volunteer nurses, the agency's weekly Health Clinic provides basic primary care, health assessments, wound care, vaccinations and health education every our Monday evening shelter site at First United Church of Oak Park.  Follow-up care, assistance in applying for health insurance and linkage to a primary medical home are handled by our Community Health Nurse.

Legal Clinic - In partnership Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS), shelter clients can access pro-bono legal assistance once a month at St. John Lutheran, our shelter Friday evening shelter site.  Attorneys provide counsel with legal matters such as benefit appeals and claims, child support, divorce, etc.


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Employment Readiness


Employment Readiness prepares clients for a successful, sustained re-entry into the workplace.

  • One-on-one employment counseling performed by skills-based, corporate-level, volunteers assist clients with resume and cover letter development, career counseling, application assistance and interview preparation.
  • Career Passport is our 5-week, curriculm based, group (8-10 clients) program designed to provide soft-skills training for clients who are committed to resolving barriers to employment.  The program provides job placement and employment retention services after successful completion of the training.

More information about our Employment Readiness program can be found here.

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Supportive Housing


Sojourner House, opening August 2019, offers a "bridge to housing" in a community based setting of five apartments and one three-bedroom coach house in Oak Park.  This 90-day program provides safe, stable living while participants are assisted with improved health, employment, family reunification and linkage to community based services until a permanent destination is identified.

PARTNERS:  Oak Park Housing Authority, MacNeal Hospital/Loyola Medicine

A solution for housing the most vulnerable

Permanent supportive housing is an intervention that combines affordable housing assistance with voluntary support services to address the needs of adults and families who have a long-term disability.  Services are designed to build independent living and tenancy skills and connect people with community-based health care, treatment and employment services.  Affordable housing comes in the form of a rental subsidy and participants contribute 30% of their income.   Permanent Supportive Housing is proven to be a cost-effective solution shown to lower public costs associated with the use of crisis services such as shelters, hospitals, jails and prisons.

PARTNERS - Cook County Health (CCH), Better Health Through Housing (BHH), Center for Housing and Health, Heartland Alliance, Thresholds, BEDS Plus, South Suburban PADS

A solution for quickly rehousing those who require short- to medium term assistance

Rapid Rehousing is an intervention for individuals and families who are homeless (HUD definiation) and can become quickly re-housed with limited rental assistance, case management and supports to help a household become and remain stabliy housed.  

PARTNER - South Suburban PADS

There are three core components of our housing programs:

       1. Housing Identification

The goal of housing identification is to find housing for people quickly.

  • Housing Coordinators and Navigators routinely find and recruit landlords willing to rent to those served by the program;
  • Match participants to appropriate housing. Housing that is decent, safe, and, in the case of RRH, will be affordable after assistance ends
  • Critical aspect of this step is choice: the individual or household has a choice in their housing.

       2. Rent and Move-In Assistance

The goal of rent and move-in assistance is to help with the costs associated with getting into housing.

  • The amount and duration of this assistance varies, but at a minimum, it should be enough to help people secure a place to live.
  • This assistance isn’t a standard “package” but flexible in order to meet unique needs. This is particularly important when financial circumstances or housing costs change.
  • Furnishings and apartment set-up 

3. Case Management

The goal of case management is to help stabilize people once housed, by connecting them to services and supports if needed. It focuses on helping people  navigate barriers that may stand in the way of securing and maintaining housing, and should also strive to build a support system by connecting them with people and programs in the community.  For Rapid re-housing, assistance, ideally, ends when person is no longer facing the threat of homelessness, but case management may continue if appropriate or requested.  Additional support services offered to participants include:
  • employment readiness services and job placement 
  • life skills supports - budgeting, financial literacy, nutrition and cooking
  • addressing physical and behavioral health goals through service connection with health and behavior health community based partners.


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