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Sarah's Circle Vows To Keep Fighting For Homeless Women After Setback

By Josh McGhee | October 4, 2017 11:42am
 Sarah's Circle supporters during it's annual Winter Walk.
Sarah's Circle supporters during it's annual Winter Walk.
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Courtesy of Facebook

UPTOWN — Sarah's Circle, which assists women who are homeless, is down, but not out.

After failing to secure some vital funding last week for its planned expansion, the nonprofit focused on serving homless women or those in need of a safe space vowed to not give up the fight.

"We're moving on to another contingency," said Executive Director Kathy Ragnar. "We were disappointed, but this is a very important project for women who are homeless."

Friday, Sarah's Circle was denied the funding for its expansion, which comes in the form of tax credits, from the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

"There were 58 competitive applications for Low Income Housing Tax Credits and the Illinois Housing Development Authority only had enough credits to fund 20 developments," said Andrew Field, a spokesman for the development authority.

The authority funded three developments in the city this round, spending just over $4 million, he said.

Ald. James Cappleman (46th), a supporter of Sarah's Circle, vowed to "continue to assist them in any way he can to make this project a reality," according to his chief of staff Tressa Feher.

"We need more permanent supportive housing for the most vulnerable in our community, so Ald. Cappleman will continue to advocate for this project," Feher said.

The nonprofit was hoping to secure a little over a million dollars annually for 10 years, Ragnar said.

"We knew this would be tough," she said, adding applications for similar funding through the the city had already been submitted. "This is an ambitious agency... and the important thing is to look at what we're trying to do."

Recent statistics from the Homeless Management Information System, which collects data and statistics on homelessness, found about 2,785 women were homeless in the city, she said.

Sarah's Circle's proposal, which includes demolishing the building at 4654 N. Sheridan Road, required a zoning change for the two-story building about two blocks south of its current facility. The building, which was previously home to Siam Noodle and Rice for the last 29 years, was sold to Sarah's Circle earlier this year.

The zoning change allows for a mixed-use residential and commercial property with 38 units of affordable housing, support services and a 50-bed interim housing program.

The denial is a hurdle, but the agency is used to overcoming obstacles.

"To put this in perspective, our current building took us 4-and-a-half years. These aren't easy projects. It's a multi-layered, multi-year process," she said. "We have very solid real estate and financial people helping us. It make take us longer, but we won't be detoured."