Salvation Army Expands Role Serving Chicago’s Homeless Individuals
For years, The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division has been serving individuals who are homeless through our Booth Lodge shelter, Mobile Outreach Feeding Units, and Shield of Hope Emergency Homeless Assessment and Response Center. Thanks to a new contract with the City of Chicago, that assistance is expanding to include the centralized shelter intake and referral system for all shelter requests and placements, including families, youth, singles, and seniors.
“It is a comprehensive and robust program providing crisis responses to residents of Chicago experiencing homelessness,” said Andrea Chatman, The Salvation Army’s Director of Homeless Services.
As part of this contract, the Army becomes the city’s crisis response care team. In that capacity, we will conduct all senior well-being checks, visiting older individuals about whom a relative, friend, landlord, doctor, or other person has called 311, the City’s social services emergency line, to express concern.
We also take on crisis responses, assisting victims of fires and other disasters with relocation and transportation to a temporary shelter, and transporting people in extreme weather to warming/cooling centers at the City’s request.
As the centralized shelter intake, the Army will be contacted whenever individuals facing homelessness call 311 seeking placement in a city shelter. The Army, which is provided a census of available beds at the City’s homeless and domestic violence shelters at the start of each shift, will locate an available bed for each caller. We will then dispatch a vehicle to transport the client(s) to that location and help begin the intake process at that facility.
“Without this coordinated response, many residents experiencing homelessness would not have access to shelter services or would have many obstacles to obtaining access to shelter,” Chatman said.
The Salvation Army already employs several homelessness diversion options, such as providing emergency grants for rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, medical bills, or other financial threats to a family staying in their home. Army staff also negotiate long-term resolution with landlords and offer bus transportation for a housing opportunity with a friend or relative in another state.
Additionally, our Booth Manor Senior Residences, located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, provides low-income apartments and supportive services for seniors on fixed incomes, another demographic often at risk of becoming homeless.