Providing Advocacy, Dignity, and Shelter (PADS) provides emergency shelter and supportive services to individuals and families with children experiencing homelessness in Lake County. We offer a safe environment with a comprehensive and proven approach to enhancing the quality of life for those experiencing homelessness and those living at risk of becoming homeless.
As the only non-restrictive, nighttime emergency shelter program in Lake County, PADS shelter sites are housed in fifteen different churches every night of the week on a seasonal basis (October 1st through April 30th). PADS also has one year-round fixed site emergency shelter in Waukegan. Staff and volunteers provide dinner, breakfast, and a bag lunch. Depending on distance, clients either walk or are driven to the sites at 7:00 p.m. and picked up at 7:00 a.m. by PADS buses. The nighttime shelters are staffed primarily with volunteers, and each shelter has a staff member present or on call at all times during the hours the shelters are open. We recently began a Summer Shelter program that provides emergency shelter during the summer months to approximately 100 people.
PADS Lake County is unique in that it also functions as an assessment center. Here we help homeless individuals, including families with children, take the first steps toward experiencing success and making positive changes in their lives.
The Assessment Center, located at 3001 Green Bay Road, Building 5, North Chicago, is open seven days a week, 365 days a year, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., in order to provide an opportunity for support:
- Client advocates and peer counselors make the necessary referrals and follow-ups.
- Meet such basic needs such as shower and laundry facilities.
- Use the PADS office to make and receive phone calls; use our address for receiving mail.
- Life Skills/self-help classes.
The PADS program has minimum eligibility requirements.
- A parent or guardian must accompany clients under the age of 18.
- A person cannot be a registered sex offender.
Clients receive a PADS identification card after completing an intake and eligibility requirements have been documented. Clients without a PADS identification card are given shelter for the night and referred to a PADS client advocate in the morning for a completed intake, which documents eligibility requirements. PADS identification cards are also used to track clients for documentation purposes.
Clients have a time frame to utilize PADS. PADS concentrates its efforts and resources toward housing, especially in the first 45 days for single men and women and for couples with no children. Families with children work toward permanent supportive housing in the first 60 days.
Our goals for the clients are to:
Connect them with resources to begin the hard task of leaving the streets.
Have them make a commitment to their own health and recovery.
Personal and economic self-sufficiency with safe, affordable permanent housing.
All services which are provided at PADS are free of charge.
The Family Center
The Family Center is a fixed point of entry for families with children. Thanks to Father Gary Graff and Dennis Mudd, the old Saint Bart’s Church in Waukegan was renovated and made available for homeless families with children. On November 23, 2004, PADS officially opened “The Family Center.” As the only year-round 24/7 unrestricted shelter for families, children are able to catch the school bus in their own neighborhood rather than at the PADS Assessment Center. Now, when they are sick, they can stay in their own bed, and when the weather is bad, they don’t have to be outside. It’s important that kids get to be kids.
The Holy Family Soup Kitchen, which is located in the same building serves dinner four nights a week. Volunteers provide dinners for the remainder of the week. After dinner, Monday through Friday, the residents attend a one-hour life skills group. These groups focus on helping individuals identify issues that may have caused them to become homeless, and to help them to make necessary changes to live independently.
While the adults are attending the life skills group meeting, the children are doing homework in the computer lab or playing in the playroom. After the group meeting, residents can unwind in the TV room and watch movies or their favorite shows. There is a laundry for their use, but the things that the residents like most about The Family Center is the privacy of a bed and a storage space of their own. Everyone has their own sleeping area that comes with a bed and a complete set of matching linens, a wardrobe, a nightstand, a lamp, and an alarm clock.
Residents are required to set and achieve goals, do chores, follow the rules of The Family Center, and develop a sense of belonging to the community.
The Next Step Program
The Next Step is a 6-bed permanent supportive housing program used to prevent chronic homelessness for men. Contact is made through PADS’ emergency shelter to a population that has been “treatment resistant” or “not housing ready.” The Next Step Program is based on the Consumer Preference Supported Housing Model (Tsemberis & Asmussen, 1999), which states that housing is a basic right for all people.
The program prevents the cycle of recurring homelessness by achieving long-term housing stability through the provision of support services that are relevant to the resident’s needs, such as client-determined service plans, including assistance with mainstream resources, such as developing independent living skills, vocational rehabilitation employment, recreational activities and opportunities to socialize for ten individuals.
The beneficiaries are male residents who have gained housing stability, increased quality of life, increased empowerment, improved educational and vocational goals, reduction of alcohol and substance abuse and expansion of their social network.
The benefits to the community are to have men move away from homelessness to self-sufficiency; from addiction to recovery; from hopelessness to an experience of self-reliance; and from isolation to a job and valued community role.
Safe Haven is a housing program for 15 adult participants who are chronically homeless and who have a serious mental illness, usually schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. The program’s philosophy follows the “low demand / high tolerance” philosophy, as the people living there have not been able to tolerate or be successful at other housing programs. It is a “housing first” model. The participant is brought into the program first, and other issues are then addressed—such as medical care, mental health care, substance abuse treatment, securing income, learning independent living skills, etc.
The program is staffed 24/7 by advocates who have had special training in mental health. The Safe Haven likes to recruit volunteers for the program, including art therapists, and vocational specialists. We always need people to facilitate various groups, including social, leisure, and skills building. We are also looking for volunteers to provide cooked meals. For more information about Safe Haven, call Sandy Stephens at 847-689-4357, ext. 124.
The PADS outreach worker, along with a PADS volunteer, drives a van around Lake County twice a week, making connections with chronically homeless persons living on the streets, under bridges, in abandoned buildings, and in other places where it is known that persons experiencing homelessness congregate. They hand-out sack lunches, toiletries, hats and gloves, foot salve, and anything else they might have to make life on the streets more comfortable.
This outreach links persons experiencing homelessness to basic needs and to the invitation to use PADS’ 24-hour emergency sites, along with the supportive services of PADS and other collaborating agencies.