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Flexible Housing Program Aims to Stabilize Homeless Youth in the Community

Brooke Brooke Thomas, Housing Case Manager at The Night Ministry, provides support to young people participating in the Flexible Housing Pool, helping them stabilize in their apartments.

Young adults struggling with homelessness in Chicago now have more permanent housing options available to them, under a new partnership involving The Night Ministry and several other local agencies.

The Flexible Housing Pool for Youth provides subsidies for market-rate rental apartments across the city, along with case management services, to help stabilize homeless youth.

The program builds upon one administered by the nonprofit Center for Housing & Health that is already providing permanent, subsidized housing and related support for adult populations.

"The Flexible Housing Pool draws upon the expertise of The Night Ministry while expanding the continuum of care offered by the agency's Youth Programs," said Erin Ryan, The Night Ministry's Senior Vice President. "While we are not providing the housing units, we are contributing our experience with outreach and case management to support permanent housing for young adults experiencing homelessness."

The program identifies young adults ages 18 to 24 who are in the City of Chicago's homeless management information system and have utilized Cook County Health, although there are plans to extend it to homeless youth who have involvement with the criminal justice system.

The Night Ministry locates these young people and helps them determine whether they would like to participate. The Center for Housing & Health then provides referrals to apartments operated by landlords with whom it has built relationships, with the goal of placement within 30 days. The Center for Housing & Health also administers rent payments.

"Research tells us that it is more cost efficient to place someone in housing than it is to let them remain homeless. When people are permanently housed with the right supports, they are much less likely to rely upon emergency rooms and shelter services to meet their basic needs, or end up in jail. These are crisis systems which, in the end, are more expensive to maintain than housing," said Betsy Carlson, Director of Youth Programs at The Night Ministry.

At current funding levels, the Flexible Housing Pool can support housing for as many as 200 young people. So far, 12 have enrolled in the program. The Night Ministry provides case management and stabilization services for up to 20 participants. The case manager, and the outreach professional who works with youth to connect them to the program, are new staff positions at the agency. 

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