LA GRANGE – Construction is set to begin this month on a permanent facility for BEDS Plus at Ogden and East avenues in La Grange.
BEDS Plus provides both short-term and long-term housing for homeless individuals in the southwestern suburbs of Cook County. A groundbreaking ceremony was held April 21 at the vacant lot at 9601 E. Ogden Ave., and construction is expected to last about one year.
The $6 million, three-story building will have 20 375-square-foot studio units, which will provide permanent, supportive housing on the second and third floors. The BEDS Plus administrative offices and counseling services will be on the first floor of the building, which is financed through public and private funding, including a $1.3 million loan from Cook County. The administrative offices are currently located at First Presbyterian Church in La Grange.
Tina Rounds, executive director of BEDS Plus, said the residents will become permanent members of the La Grange community.
“[A new facility] has been a long-time pursuit of our organization. We want to provide a more professional environment,” she said. “There is a shortage of affordable housing in the area, and for people who are low-income, there needs to be available housing stock. There are many people who struggle with housing security.”
The road to the groundbreaking wasn’t easy, with several public hearings that drew both strong support and opposition. Opposition also included a lawsuit in 2015 that attempted to block construction, but it eventually was dropped.
The La Grange Village Board of Trustees unanimously approved the development in April 2015.
Potential residents of the new building will undergo a prescribed selection process before moving in, Rounds said. Felons, sex offenders and those with gang affiliations will be barred from living in the facility.
BEDS Plus currently offers financial assistance for short-term housing, as well as permanent supportive housing sites scattered around the area, but the new building will allow for a consolidation of some services. The organization will continue to offer rotating emergency shelter sites, which allow individuals to spend one night at one of 17 churches in the surrounding suburbs.
BEDS Plus served about 850 homeless people this fiscal year, but that number fluctuates every year, Rounds said. She said a lot of the families the organization works with are female-headed households, including domestic violence survivors.
“[Homelessness] is a complex problem with a variety of causes, including minimum wage salaries. What housing is available to them or to those on a fixed income? All of those issues contribute,” she said.