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, over 86,000 Chicagoans experienced homeless in 2017, including over 20,000 children. The more capacity we build today, the more people we can serve tomorrow.

Permanent Supportive Housing

Smart Policy

According to the 2016 United States Conference of Mayors Hunger and Homelessness Survey, Chicago is making strides in addressing homelessness. Our city has seen the largest decline in chronic homelessness among the 38 cities surveyed. Much of this improvement is due to policies that prioritize permanent housing first. These strides are just the beginning. The financial costs of homelessness encompass all the consequences that go along with a lack of shelter: hospitalization, emergency shelter and incarceration. Research and pilot programs in New York City, LA County, Minneapolis and now Chicago, have shown that placing a person or family in a shelter—a short-term solution—is ineffective. People often land frequently in jails and hospitals. Providing people permanent supportive housing, as we do at Facing Forward, saves taxpayers money in the long-term. We calculate that our program saves taxpayers approximately $30,000 per year per client. It’s not just the compassionate thing to do. It’s smart policy.

Our Approach

Facing Forward to End Homelessness is guided by four 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.


2017 Annual Report

PDF of our 2017 Annual Report
Download PDF

2018 Annual Report

PDF of our 2018 Annual Report
Download PDF
LaPorsha and family_c

2019 Annual Report

PDF of our 2019 Annual Report
Download PDF