Lincoln Park shelter treats homelessness holistically (VIDEO)

By Benji Cohen

The Lincoln Park Community Shelter has a different approach for helping the homeless.

When a homeless “visitor,” as they are called, enters its doors, case managers at Lincoln Park Community Shelter (LPCS) immediately devise a plan for the person to help them get a job and find more permanent housing.

“They don’t have to leave every morning like typical shelters do,” said  Fawn O’Brien, Volunteer Program Manager at the LPCS. “And once they are in here we give them intense case management and it’s a pretty individualized plan addressing whatever issues led to their homelessness.”

The shelter has been helping the homeless get their lives back together for 30 years. Over those decades, it has progressed into an interim housing shelter for 35 people: 24 men and 11 women.

Rayford Allen is one of the men in the LPCS who is going through the case management program.

When Allen first became homeless, he stayed away from shelters.

“I’ve been trying to avoid coming into shelters. I’ve heard bad things about them,” said Allen.

When it started to get cold, Allen decided that it would be in his best interest to check himself into the LPCS.

“But this one seems to be like very good. So I decided to come here and get out of the cold weather and try to get my life back together.”

Allen hopes to find employment in maintenance when it gets warmer out and  he completes his case management program.

“About 65 percent of our guests that come here, who participate in the program, have moved on to housing on their own,” said Dan Hula, Executive Director of the Lincoln Park Community Shelter.

Photo at top: Rayford Allen shows another LPCS visitor a game on his laptop. (Benji Cohen/Medill)