Our Cause


PADS Lake County is a community-based organization that provides trauma-informed support, resources, and shelter to individuals and families experiencing a housing crisis.


We envision a community in which homelessness is rare, brief and non-recurring; one in which anyone who may experience a housing crisis has timely access to the proper resources and services based on their individual need.


In order to achieve our vision and carry out our mission, we hold true to the following values:

  • Client-Centered: We put the people we serve first
  • Self-Determination: We allow the people we serve to make their own, informed choices
  • Dignity: We provide a dignified environment, in all ways
  • Respect: We treat the people we serve respectfully, as people first
  • Compassion: We provide our services in a compassionate and caring manner
  • Commitment: We do not give up on the people we serve
  • Trauma-informed Care: We provide service in a way that understands the trauma experienced
  • Harm Reduction; We embrace the harm reduction model for behaviors
  • Diversity: We believe in the power of diversity in our workforce
  • Cultural Competency: We understand the different backgrounds of the people we serve
  • Confidentiality: We vigorously defend the right to privacy of the people we serve
  • Equity We provide service to each according to their need

History of PADS

If the history of PADS Lake County could be captured within one phrase, it would undoubtedly be from Mahatma Gandhi: “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” Gandhi seemed to get it as he visualizes history as something that is both past, present and future. A looking back at history should always be married to a forging of the future.

PADS was founded in 1972 as a 24-hour telephone crisis hotline. Little did we know at the time that this was merely the beginning. As the crisis telephone lines busied, so did the dedication of PADS’ leaders and staff. What they soon came to find out was that if the lives and futures of Lake County’s homeless was truly going to be changed, it required more than a switchboard.

Something more needed to be done. As a result of this timely observation of the great need within Lake County as well as the wise analysis that mere telephone lines couldn’t meet said need, what became the PADS + Program was started in the early 1980’s that offered daytime shelter and supportive services.

Still, something more needed to be done. On Christmas Eve, 1987, PADS opened its first emergency overnight shelter program at Wesley Free Methodist Church in Waukegan. This afforded the means to provide face to face crisis intervention. Modeled after Public Action to Deliver Shelter, PADS laid the groundwork that would serve as the foundation for future programs.

Still, something more needed to be done. PADS opened its Day Resource Center in 1992, officially marking PADS as the entry point and first step for Lake County’s homeless rejoining their community. The Day Resource Center was a success as PADS begin to see and meet the need of the growing number of homeless within Lake County.

Still, something more needed to be done. In 1998 PADS began its journey into long term housing with the establishing of the HELP Center (Habits for Effective Life Planning). This provided another path for moving people from homelessness and/or substance abuse to sobriety, permanent housing and stability. The HELP Center has evolved to be our permanent supportive housing program focused on chronically homeless individuals with disabilities.

Today, as the only emergency shelter system in Lake County, PADS operates 15 emergency shelter sites, its Day Resource Center and numerous programs within it, as well as a number of scattered site long term supportive housing units. PADS also provides a multiplicity of services with a vision and mission of placing all of Lake County’s homeless on a secure path to sustained independence.