The Night Ministry is honored that Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly have chosen to feature The Night Ministry and our emergency overnight youth shelter, The Crib, in their film, The Homestretch. With this film, Anne and Kirsten have illustrated the complexity of the issues that result in over one million young people experiencing homelessness in the United States each year. We’d like to take this opportunity to tell you more about our work at The Crib. If you would like to support The Night Ministry’s work at The Crib with a tax-deductible donation, please click here:
The Crib’s History
The Crib, first opened in January 2011 as a 4-month pilot program funded by the City of Chicago. The pilot project was a result of meetings between The Night Ministry’s youth advocacy group, H.E.L.L.O. (Homeless Experts Living Life’s Obstacles), and former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. At the time, The Crib was the only overnight shelter for homeless youth ages 18 to 24 in Chicago, and the only program of its kind in the Midwest. Named by youth working with The Night Ministry, The Crib provided over 150 youth with safe shelter, warm meals, and supportive programming during the pilot phase.
In January 2013, after operating seasonally its first two years, the City of Chicago offered The Night Ministry additional funding to expand the program to year-round operations. In addition, throughout 2013, the City has expanded our model into all corners of Chicago. Today there are four additional programs, modeled on The Crib, operating across the city and providing homeless young people with access to a network of comprehensive services. In 2013, The Crib provided 242 young people with safe, age-appropriate overnight shelter.
The Crib is an important addition to Chicago’s efforts to care for youth who are on the streets, because there are less than 300 other shelter beds for youth in Chicago, while as many as 2,000 young people experience homelessness every night.
A First Step Into Housing
The Crib is open seven nights a week, 365 days a year, from 9pm until 9am. We are housed in the basement of LakeView Lutheran Church in the Lakeview neighborhood, located on Chicago’s northside. The program accepts up to 20 youth, ages 18-24, each night. If more than 20 people arrive, the staff holds a lottery to determine who will stay at The Crib that night. The City of Chicago’s mobile outreach team is present to bring any young people who cannot access The Crib to another age-appropriate shelter program in the city.
At least two staff members are awake and on duty at all times. Trained volunteers from the community help staff the program during the evening and morning hours when guests are awake. Our staff and volunteers build relationships with the young people who stay at The Crib and provide links to daytime supportive services. For many of our guests, these relationships are often the only healthy, supportive relationships they have with adults.
Each night at The Crib begins with "gratitudes," where guests, staff and volunteers can choose to share things they’re proud of or grateful for, and a nutritious dinner is served at 9:30 pm. After dinner the youth finish their homework, meet with staff, participate in activities, listen to music, take showers, and do laundry until “lights out” at midnight. In the morning, guests leave by 9 am to begin their day.
“It’s like a family,” explains William, who frequently spends the night at The Crib. “I have been homeless since I was 16. I was always trying to find a way to eat and stay warm. At The Crib, we have events like talent shows, yoga, and meditation. The staff cares and they help me out a lot. Now I’m blessed with everything I have.”
Meeting young people where they are at
The Night Ministry believes that every person deserves a warm, safe place to rest, and we do our best to build community with the 20 young people who come to stay with us each night at The Crib.
As with each of The Night Ministry’s programs for homeless youth, The Crib welcomes people of all genders and sexual orientations. In fact, as many as 80% of The Crib’s guests identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or queer -- as many as 30% of those guests identify as transgender or gender non-conforming. The Crib has been recognized for its leadership in providing LGBTQ-competent services to Chicago’s homeless youth.
For youth like Mileena, who has been homeless since the age of 15, The Crib provides a sense of security and belonging. Mileena explains that before The Crib, “I had no place else to go. At The Crib I have met wonderful staff and other youth. We have each other’s backs.”
How You Can Help
While The Crib receives funding from the City of Chicago and several private donors, The Night Ministry relies on support from individuals like you to make possible our work with Chicago’s homeless youth.
A $50 donation provides a night of shelter for a young person at The Crib. $20 helps us purchase a three-day transit pass for youth to use when they look for jobs or attend medical or counseling appointments. $10 provides one night of meals for a young person at The Crib.
Donate to The Night Ministry’s Crib today by clicking here or call us at 773-784-9000.
Thank you for your support!
Interested in more information about The Night Ministry? Please click here.