The Night Ministry is restructuring aspects of its Youth Programs to offer more flexible long-term housing and deepen the impact of its services to young people experiencing homelessness.
"We are making these changes in response to the evolving challenges faced by the population and to reflect demographic shifts among the youth we serve," said Betsy Carlson, Director of Youth Programs. "We are also adjusting our services based on the feedback our young people have provided us about how we can best help them."
The agency is merging two programs, the STEPS Transitional Living Program and Phoenix Hall, into a hybrid housing model, Pathways, which offers an onsite congregate environment as well as community-based apartments coupled with supportive services.
"Not all young adults are ready to live independently, and many have told us they appreciate the structure of a communal setting. But some are ready to live more independently with the right assistance," said Allison McCann-Stevenson, Assistant Director of Long-Term Residential Services. "The hybrid structure of Pathways gives us the flexibility to provide a continuum of support which matches where the residents are at in their journeys to greater stability."
Pathways provides up to two years of housing for up to 12 young people, with eight residing in The Night Ministry's shelter facility in the North Lawndale neighborhood and four in nearby apartments.
The expansion into community-based housing builds upon The Night Ministry's successful participation in the Flexible Housing Pool for Youth, launched last year. The agency is providing ongoing case management for pool participants, who are young adults living in their own subsidized market-rate rental apartments.
The Pathways program shifts the service model for the North Lawndale facility, which had housed Phoenix Hall, a residence that was initially designed exclusively for high school students. While high school students needing housing are still welcome at Pathways, being in high school is no longer a prerequisite to stay there.
"What we are seeing in the North Lawndale neighborhood is a greater need for shelter options for young adults who are not necessarily in high school," said McCann-Stevenson. "By eliminating the requirement that residents be enrolled in high school, we are lowering barriers to service and bringing more resources into the community."
Meanwhile, The Night Ministry is also reshaping RAPPP, its housing program for unhoused pregnant and parenting young mothers and their children, to focus on longer-term housing solutions for this segment of the homeless population. Details about the new Parenting with Purpose Program will be coming shortly.