After a three-month hiatus, service providers with the Night Ministry announced that "The Crib," a 20-bed homeless youth shelter, will reopen Aug. 8.
The Night Ministry has secured funding through the City of Chicago and private providers to re-launch its overnight shelter, which serves young people ages 18-24, many of them LGBT.
Initially a pilot project, The Crib opened its doors at Lake View Lutheran Church, 835 W. Addison, in early January. During that time, the shelter housed 138 different people, and provided 2,152 bed nights.
According to Rev. Barbara Bolsen, the vice president of programs for the Night Ministry, The Crib stayed open for two uninterrupted days during the blizzard that hit Chicago at the start of February.
The shelter was shut down May 1, as planned, when the pilot project concluded. Since, many service providers have lamented its absence.
"If The Crib is open, you have 20 young people off the streets," said Bonnie Wade, director of the LGBTQ Host Home program, another program that places queer homeless youth in long-term supportive homes. "It allows them to build a life for themselves."
The Crib is unique from other city shelters in a number of ways. For one, the shelter has generally been praised as a space that is LGBT-friendly. Bolsen estimated that approximately 30 percent of the shelter's clients were transgender.
Transgender homeless people often have difficulty entering shelters because shelter staff struggle with where to place them when facilities are gendered. Additionally, they are often subjected to violence and discrimination by others in the shelter.
Having a place to go to like The Crib, she said, could accomplish the goal and more effectively help kids.
Bolsen said The Crib is also important because giving young people food and housing allows them to focus on important life steps, like finding a job and finishing school.
The Night Ministry celebrated the reopening by holding an open house July 28.
The organization is currently asking for support in the form of donations of white T-shirts, socks, CTA passes and five-dollar gift cards as well as volunteers. More information on The Crib and other services is available at www.thenightministry.org .