Working to end homelessness for 35 years
In 1988, La Grange area faith and lay leaders founded Building Ecumenical Discipleship through Sheltering (BEDS) after seeing community residents sleeping outdoors. BEDS began as an overnight shelter rotating among area faith-based organization, but volunteers quickly realized that residents needed more than safe places to spend the night. We professionalized, adding case management, a daytime support center, and partnerships with area human services.
Beginning in 2014, BEDS adopted the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing First approach to homelessness and began providing evidence-based Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing programs. Three years later, we doubled our service area after we assumed management of a near-South suburban shelter network. The expansion brought in more clients with complex needs, including domestic violence survivors and people experiencing chronic homelessness (having been homeless for a year or more with a disability). We began developing programs to help them regain and sustain housing.
Our first Permanent Supportive Housing facility—Ogden Avenue Supportive Housing—opened in 2018, and we partnered with nearby housing agencies to lease 80 scattered site apartments for people with histories of chronic homelessness. We created Transitional Housing programs for clients with intensive needs, including families, domestic violence survivors, other victims of crime, and transition aged youth. Working with AMITA Health and Pillars Community Health, we began offering clinical health and behavioral healthcare services onsite in our shelters and daytime support centers.
In response to COVID-19, we reshaped our Emergency and other services to protect our clients and communities. We completed a campaign to open the Linda Frances Sokol Summit Service Center, which will be the first homeless medical respite facility in Cook County and the second largest in Illinois. Medical respite care is medical care for homeless persons who are too fragile to recover from an illness/injury on the streets but their condition is not serious enough to have a prolonged stay in a hospital.