WEST HUMBOLDT PARK — The city's first "rapid-response" homeless center, offering everything from bedrooms with private bathrooms to counseling services, will soon rise in West Humboldt Park.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), representatives from The Salvation Army — the project partner — and other officials on Friday broke ground on Shield of Hope, a $10 million homeless center coming to 910 N. Christiana Ave.
"I want everyone to realize there's a beautiful building going up, but it's not really a building. It's a one-of-a-kind campus in the United States of America," Emanuel said at the ceremony, referring to its close proximity to the Freedom Center, The Salvation Army's huge community and social services center that sits across the street.
Built in 2014, the Freedom Center, 825 N. Christiana Ave., houses medical and substance abuse clinics, a community center and a chapel that doubles as an auditorium, among other services.
Shield of Hope, on the other hand, is billed as a "state-of-the-art" homeless center, where people facing homelessness will be able to get shelter, meals and showers, in addition to counseling and other social services.
A rendering of the homeless center. [Provided]
The facility will offer 20 bedrooms with private bathrooms, 55 "emergency" beds, a laundry room, cafeteria and a counseling center.
"It's where human beings are restored, their heads high, their eyes clearly set on the horizon, and they themselves can walk out and become an independent person again," Emanuel said.
"No veteran should ever call Lower Wacker home again. That's not going to happen in the city of Chicago," the mayor added.
Lisa Morrison Butler, commissioner of the city's Department of Family and Support Services, touted the project's alignment with Emanuel's "Plan 2.0: A Home For Everyone," a seven-year "action plan" designed to end homelessness in the city.
A large anonymous donation to The Salvation Army is being used to pay for the $10 million center, according to officials.
"The Salvation Army is investing $10 million of this gift for construction and the remaining dollars will go to support the facility for the next five years without any need for fundraising," a Salvation Army spokesman said in an email.
Emanuel called the groundbreaking of the facility "symbolic" because it came just one day after Illinois lawmakers approved a state budget after an unprecedented stalemate that lasted more than two years and decimated social service providers.
"The state of Illinois, over the last three years, in a manufactured crisis, pulled money back from organizations that helped our homeless," Emanuel said. "What was resolved yesterday ensures that the state of Illinois is not a roadblock" anymore.
For more renderings, visit the project's website.