New Moms celebrated the grand opening of its new facility in Oak Park last week after years of planning.
“This is deeply personal to me,” Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said at the March 15th event. “I tell everyone, everywhere I go that I am the child of a teenage mom, second of two children she had at 18.
“When we talk about interrupting inter-generational poverty I am the example of that … I am the living embodiment of what happens when we invest in these mothers and the potential of, not only them, but their children.”
Located at 206 Chicago Ave., the 21,700-square-foot building features 18 one- and two- bedroom apartments, as well as program space for the organization’s family support services. That’s critical because every mom coming through the program is either currently homeless or been homeless in the past.
The facility offers permanent housing to young mothers; that differs from the New Mom’s main facility located nearby at 5317 W. Chicago Ave., where mothers can stay no more than two years.
While the housing situation may be different, the goal — to help mothers become self-sufficient through job training and family support — remains the same.
“For young families especially, it can take a while to go through school and get a job,” New Moms President and CEO Laura Zumdahl said. “Sometimes transitional housing (two-year housing) is really appropriate for that, (but) sometimes they need longer, so not having that time limit really allows us to better serve families.”
The acquisition of the Oak Park organization Parenthesis Family Center enabled New Moms to expand its family support services to the near western suburbs. This has resulted in nearly doubling the number of families served, said Jenna Hania, director of development and communications for New Moms.
“It allows us to scale our work,” Hania said. “Everything that is happening at our Oak Park center and in our housing program here is largely a replication of what has been going on in our headquarters in Austin.”
Mothers can receive the same services offered in the city without having to jump the city/ suburban line and potentially lose these services. For example, homeless suburban women do not have access to Chicago’s Coordinated Entry System, which helps connect the homeless in Chicago to housing programs.
New Moms is working with the Regional Housing Initiative and the State Referral Network, which provide lists of people who are homeless and waiting for housing. This allows New Moms to find qualified families who will be arriving from throughout the Chicago area.
Businesses that New Moms launched from Austin to employ the mothers, such as the candle making company Bright Endeavors, will continue at the Oak Park center to help moms transition to the professional world.
Funding for the New Moms Oak Park facility came from the Illinois Housing Development Authority, which helps to fund affordable housing, as well as from a capital campaign. The total price for the project was $7.25 million.