Facing Forward

Who We Serve

We reach out to people who meet the highest standards of vulnerability. Our program serves people who are chronically homeless and who have a disability. The majority of households that we serve are women and families. Our clients are strong, resilient and committed.
Unfortunately, there is a long wait for permanent housing with supportive services. There is much more need in Chicago than we can currently serve. According to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, nearly 77,000 Chicagoans experience homelessness, including over 20,000 children. The more capacity we build today, the more people we can serve tomorrow.

Our Programs

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH)

Without critical needs like food and housing being met, it is difficult for individuals to address other issues related to health and safety, creating chronic, often generational, problems. PSH provides long-term, stable housing with no barriers to entry and no predetermined end date.

Once housing needs are met, we work with clients and their families to create a unique portfolio of supportive services establishing connections to health care, substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, and opportunities for education and employment.

In addition to ending cycles of homelessness, PSH is also a smart policy that saves taxpayers $10+ million per year by reducing frequent encounters with emergency rooms, jails, and shelters (1). Our PSH program served 700 individuals last year, 300 of which were children.

1. Cost savings calculated using United States Interagency Council on Homelessness’ estimate of $36,000 total annual costs per person for someone who is experiencing chronic homelessness, compared w/estimated $12,000+ in savings for someone in our PSH program.

Housing Navigation

Regardless of your housing status, tasks such as obtaining official documents, applying for affordable housing and public benefits, making necessary appointments, and planning a move can be extremely daunting.

Facing Forward's Housing Navigators provide short-term case management services that help individuals and families experiencing homelessness access permanent housing opportunities. We provide guidance and support through the entire housing process. With services spanning from transportation assistance to motivational interviewing techniques, we've helped over 140 clients navigate their housing goals just last year.

 

Skilled Assessment

Facing Forward's Skilled Assessors work closely with local shelters to help those at risk or experiencing homelessness complete the first formal step in connecting with housing: entering the Chicago Coordinated Entry System, our city's homelessness services pipeline.

These initial assessments, used by social service agencies throughout Chicago, help the system match families and individuals with services and housing providers (like Facing Forward) to begin their journey to stability.

Facing Forward conducted 785 skilled assessments in fiscal year 2020 alone.

 

Housing Location

Launched with partnering domestic violence shelters and agencies in 2019, our Housing Location program seeks to identify and connect survivors of domestic violence or human trafficking with safe, stable housing.

Rather than entering the shelter system or becoming unsheltered, survivors in our programoften parents fleeing domestic violence with their childrenwork with Locators to swiftly secure other long-term housing. 

Last year, we helped 46 households fleeing domestic violence or human trafficking.

 

 

Our Approach

Facing Forward to End Homelessness is guided by five central models of care:

Housing First is a long-term solution to chronic homelessness. The model is both compassionate and effective. It stems from the fact that individuals must have basic needs such as food and shelter met before they can address the root causes of their chronic homelessness.

Housing First:
  • Places individuals in permanent housing as quickly as possible without requiring “housing readiness,” allowing us to serve the city’s most vulnerable populations;
  • Offers completely voluntary wraparound services with a dedicated case manager: e.g. mental, behavioral, medical
  • Allows flexibility in meeting clients’ needs, and prioritizes client choice in both housing selection and supportive service participation, giving the client the opportunity to lead their journey to self-sufficiency.

Our case managers approach every client with the understanding that by providing housing, we are reducing harm. We seek to continue increasing our clients’ safety and reduce the harm of risky behavior by encouraging open, honest and non-judgmental communication.

Our program meets clients where they are. We do not require abstinence from risky behavior, such as substance abuse or poor health choices. We help clients meet their individual goals, which are on a continuum. Change does not occur overnight. We celebrate and encourage every success. But reducing harm is our first and most essential goal.

Most homeless families and individuals have experienced at least one serious trauma. Trauma affects how we see the world, and how we interact with other people.

Our program creates a safe place for healing from trauma, where our residents are supported in making their own choices and regaining control of their lives. We do not require that clients disclose what they have experienced until they are ready. Instead, we encourage clients to tap into their resiliency and face trauma on their own time, and in their own way, on their path to recovery.

We do not ask, “what’s wrong with this person?”

Instead, we ask, “what has this person triumphantly survived?”

We build service plans in collaboration with our clients to enhance their natural strengths, resources and preferences. We believe our clients are experts in their own lives.

Addressing needs and creating opportunities for children and youth allows us to end generational cycles of homelessness and promote long-term stability for entire families in our program.

Case managers work hand in hand with our Health Services and Youth Services staff to ensure children are on a solid developmental path and that young adults have equal access to academic and employment opportunities available to their peers.

Through these supports, each person we serve has a stable foundation for personal growth, and each young person impacted by homelessness has the opportunity to flourish and reach their full potential in adulthood.

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2017 Annual Report

PDF of our 2017 Annual Report
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2018 Annual Report

PDF of our 2018 Annual Report
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2019 Annual Report

PDF of our 2019 Annual Report
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