Connections for the Homeless reopens full-time drop-in services for first time since 2015


Colin Lynch/Daily Senior Staffer

Connections for the Homeless’ main office at 2121 Dewey Ave. The organization extended its drop-in services for homeless individuals to five days a week for the first time since 2015.

Adrian Wan, Assistant Web Editor

Connections for the Homeless extended drop-in services to five days a week for the first time since 2015 in an effort to alleviate homelessness in the city.

The Evanston-based organization announced in a Tuesday news release the reopening of its full-time drop-in services — offered at 1458 Chicago Ave. — thanks to “relentless support” from donors and volunteers. Connections will provide an array of services including access to storage lockers, a clothing closet and a food pantry as well as counseling with case managers and mental health specialists, according to the release.

Executive director Betty Bogg said up until recently, the organization did not have enough funding to offer the drop-in services full-time.

In 2015, the organization struggled when the state budget impasse halted full funding for the public service sector, she said. Since July of that year, Connections has laid off several staffers and ended up stopping its drop-in services completely until April 2016, when they were made available part-time.

However, following private community fundraising events and the state restoring some of the funding that was withdrawn during the budget crisis, the organization is back on track, Bogg said.

She said although Connections continued housing services and homelessness prevention initiatives during the budget impasse, the reopening of full-time drop-in services further ensures access to “essential” human needs for those who are homeless.

“The services that we provide … are not things that people can only live with for a couple of times a week,” Bogg said. “These are basic human needs and rights that we care about for all of our community members.”

Jeff Ayoub — manager at Connections’ Chicago Avenue location — said both housed community members and the organization’s homeless clients have reacted positively to the reopening of drop-in services full-time. He said clients can now receive support on a constant basis.

“Our goal is to get people housed, and the only way to do that is to provide consistent places to meet with clients, talk about what’s going on and give them services that take the pressure off of being on the street,” Ayoub said.

Connections also started providing private homelessness prevention funding to supplement existing state and federal dollars, director of development Nia Tavoularis said. These funds can help people pay their rents, mortgages and utilities, she said. According to the organization’s website, Connections already offers training aimed at enhancing financial literacy to help people maintain housing permanently.

Tavoularis also noted the unique role that Connections plays in providing shelter and housing support for the local homeless population.

“There are different organizations that provide different elements of (public services),” Tavoularis said. “But there aren’t other organizations that provide the comprehensive services to the homeless like Connections for the Homeless.”

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