Along with more than 200 area representatives around the state, staff members from Housing Forward were present Tuesday and Wednesday June 26th and 27th for the 2nd Annual Illinois Continuum of Care Institute on Homelessness presented by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Housing Action Illinois, Supportive Housing Providers Association (SHPA) hosted by the City of Decatur to learn strategies and explore key issues with the goal to prevent and end homelessness.
We had a wonderful evening honoring our many volunteers at our annual appreciation dinner. Our volunteers are truly the heart of our work to help end homelessness.
Our youth volunteer engagement is on the rise and Jonny Hugh from Oak Park is one great example. As part of his 8th grade service and learning project at the Oak Park Children’s School, Jonny decided to tackle the issue of homelessness. Jonny prepared over 100 personal care packages and distributed many of these during St. Mary of Celle Parish's shelter night.
Area organizations and community leaders donate their time and effort to organize fun activities that benefit Housing Forward throughout the year. Thanks to their creativity and support through events like this featuring hip hop music, ceramic bowls and online referrals.
EVALUATING OUR IMPACT
Thank you to all of those who helped to support the Holiday Gift Drive program which paired generous gift donors to individuals and families in our Supportive Housing program and families in our PADS Shelter. This year we were able to support 109 individual clients who requested gifts for themselves and their immediate family members. Thank you to the 55 donors who were able to make this possible by providing them with a holiday they could otherwise not afford.
This past Thursday, we hosted a breakfast with our faith-based partners to celebrate our 25th anniversary, our impact and strategies for strengthening prevention and diversion services for those at-risk of becoming homeless and efforts to end homelessness for those residing in our shelters and on the streets.
Since the merger with Prevail in 2015, Housing Forward has strengthened the support systems for households in Oak Park and neighboring communities that are experiencing an emergency financial crisis and need access to tailored employment resources. On July 5, these programs will move from their current location at First United Church of Oak Park to new offices at 6634 W. Roosevelt Road, 2nd Floor in Oak Park.
In early March, the President laid out a list of potential agencies that could face budget cuts. AmeriCorps and Serve Illinois were among those that were facing major cuts. Housing Forward relies upon this funding to staff 12 positions in our programs. This morning, we received news that Congress has released their omnibus funding bill that would fund the federal government for the rest of FY17 (until September 30). That bill fully funds AmeriCorps and Serve Illinois.
This year, marks Housing Forward's 25th anniversary, and in celebrating that milestone, we became the leading provider of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) in suburban Cook County. With your support, we continue to provide housing to hundreds of individuals and offer a full continuum of programs and services designed to prevent and resolve homelessness in our community.
On Wednesday night, Housing Forward staff and volunteers worked with the Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County for the bi-annual Point in Time (PIT) Count, otherwise known as a street count of unsheltered homeless persons.