Strategic | Responsive | Invested
BEDS Plus is a leader in the effort to end homelessness in Southwest Suburban Cook County. CMF has partnered with BEDS Plus through our capacity building efforts and responsive grantmaking, including capital funding for BEDS’ permanent supportive housing facility in La Grange.
Here are some highlights from our conversation with Julie Daraska, Development Director at BEDS Plus.
Community Memorial Foundation and BEDS Plus both have deep ties to the La Grange community. Talk a little bit about the alignment of our missions and how the Foundation’s support helps move your mission forward.
I know that Greg (DiDomenico, CMF President) often speaks of the importance of the Foundation’s shared community vision, and that sentiment is true for BEDS as well. In 1988, La Grange-area church leaders founded BEDS Plus to provide emergency overnight shelter to the local homeless population; and in the years since, community leaders, funders and neighbors have united in a shared vision of how to best meet the evolving needs of our community. Our Ogden Avenue Supportive Housing is a great example of this. It marked a significant milestone in the growth of BEDS Plus and has allowed us to serve more of our neighbors. In the past four years, we’ve nearly doubled our capacity from serving 616 clients to serving 1,192 clients in 2019, and it would not have been possible without the support of the local community.
BEDS Plus has been incredibly thoughtful and efficient in its response to COVID-19. How do you continue to meet the needs of your clients during this challenging time?
We have been able to maintain one of the few congregate shelter sites available in Suburban Cook County due to the structure of our shelters; a generous outpouring of community and financial support; and a dedicated cadre of staff and experienced volunteers.
BEDS Plus has delivered emergency shelter to 235 unique clients during the crisis, and more than 20 individuals and families have moved from shelter to housing since our emergency response to COVID-19 rolled out on March 16.
We are currently preparing to open a fall shelter season with 80 beds/night at 2-3 fixed sites, with contingency plans in place as the crisis and recovery unfold. We expect the need for rental assistance to grow dramatically during the pandemic’s economic fallout, and are creating a dedicated Housing Navigator to assist us moving forward.
BEDS Plus is currently participating in our Community Health Worker program, funded in partnership with Healthy Communities Foundation. How has the program facilitated access to services?
The Community Health Worker pilot has certainly deepened our connections in the community. In the first year alone, we reached almost 500 people from target communities and nearly 30% of those individuals followed through with health care referrals. Additionally, the relationships built through this pilot have identified several persons who are survivors of domestic violence and were able to be placed in transitional housing.
Describe the Foundation in three words.
Strategic, responsive, invested.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for homelessness. BEDS Plus employs the best practices to meet the changing needs of our community, and we know that we can count on CMF to be a supportive and strategic partner, especially in light of these uncertain times.