JOURNEYS | The Road Home Reports Increase in Area Homelessness

JOURNEYS | The Road Home reports an increase in NW suburban homelessness not seen since the 2002-2003 season.

JOURNEYS | The Road Home, a non-profit agency that provides services and shelter as well as networks thousands of volunteers and various local agencies to work together on behalf of individuals and families that have lost, or are in danger of losing, their homes in North and Northwest Suburban Cook County, reports that for the weeks beginning January 7 and January 14 its PADS (Public Action to
Deliver Shelter) homeless shelters cared for 636 and 633 guests respectively.  According to JOURNEYS Executive Director Beth Nabors, these numbers represent a wave of homelessness in the local community not seen since the 2002-2003 season.

“The reality of what we see in our Palatine day center weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4
p.m. is more people needing more things, from transportation to get a family to
their extended family outside of the state so that they can share living
accommodations, to tracking down and locating birth and identity records for
someone without renters insurance who lost everything in an apartment fire so
that they can start over and look for affordable housing,  to meeting with school counselors and administrators to coordinate transportation for children in our shelter system ,” said Nabors.  “We are seeing more families, more children and more issues. Even if we hear the message from reporters that the economy is improving, we see firsthand that people are still struggling and that in our northwest suburban area that people are still losing their homes and families are still being misplaced.”

“Those we see at JOURNEYS are from the Northwest suburban area of Cook County which includes 23 towns and 8 townships,” continued Nabors.  “One of our requirements for service is that your last known address be from our service area.  We are neighbors helping neighbors.  Our staff, volunteers and board members are all local.  Many times people we went to school with or who have kids that play with our kids on sports teams come in for services.” 

Nabors noted that the only time JOURNEYS will accept people from outside of their service area is when her staff needs a little time to transition them back to
their “home base” community or if they are “running to something” instead of
“running from something.”   She said for example, that if someone is from Wisconsin and they check in at a JOURNEYS’ PADS shelter site without a last known address from the agency’s service area, they could still be accepted into the program if they show that they just got hired at a local Illinois company and need some time to save money for an apartment.  However, she said that if someone from Wisconsin shows up at a JOURNEYS’ PADS shelter and indicates that he or she has three DUIs in Wisconsin, is running from an arrest warrant and wants to escape consequences, he or she will be referred back to Wisconsin to a similar program so that he or she can get help in his or her “home base” community where he or she is eligible to receive entitlements.

“JOURNEYS is the only agency in the area that purely helps people who are struggling financially,” explained Nabors.  “We do not have restrictive requirements that state they have to have mental health issues like a community mental health agency requires, or that they have to be a victim of domestic violence, or be an intact family, or working poor, or a substance abuser to get our services.  We have professional staff on-hand that can counsel those special populations at our day center.  We have licensed and Masters-level clinicians on site to address the numerous issues that make someone financially unstable.  We are also the only agency that does all of this at no charge.  We are an emergency response agency.  We have no appointments – a first come first serve agency.  Every one of our programs have been developed because no one else was willing to provide those services or able to provide those services.”

Nabors added that the only people who are excluded from JOURNEYS’ PADS shelter services are violent felons and those convicted of sex crimes. However, she said these people still can receive free services in the Palatine day
center.  She explained that because the shelter program is operated by volunteers and the people staying there close their eyes at night, violent felons and criminals cannot receive an appropriate level of care.  However, she said that
JOURNEYS does refer those people to shelters in the city that have clinical
staff on site and specialize in DOC (Department of Correction) releases.

JOURNEYS recently changed its tagline from “PADS to HOPE” to “The Road Home,” and Nabors explained that this change reflects the changing face of homelessness, and also that the idea of a solid home has become a more precarious one for many in the local community.

“‘The Road Home’ will always be the focus at JOURNEYS.  While we stand by our
clients through every roadblock and setback they may face, our ultimate goal is
to help our clients find their way home.  Unfortunately, some clients' journeys begin by using the shelters.  Seeing such a high number of community
members utilizing our emergency shelter sites is heartbreaking.  However, JOURNEYS is providing a service that is keeping men, women and children alive. 
We are proud to provide a service that helps a human being with the
basic needs of life.  How is one supposed to find stable employment without a warm place to sleep at night?  Staying in our sites may just be a bump in
the road for these particular people, but with JOURNEYS’ help, our clients will
continue to work hard, set goals, achieve them and find their way home.”

JOURNEYS | The Road Home is a non-profit agency that provides services and shelter as well as networks thousands of volunteers and various local agencies to work together on behalf of individuals and families that have lost, or are in danger of losing, their homes in North and Northwest Suburban Cook County.  We provide shelter and/or rehabilitation forthose in need, along with transition to housing and homeless prevention service.  Visit us at www.journeystheroadhome.org
or call 847-963-9163.


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