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Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

Rogers Park Shelter For Women And Children Getting A Much-Needed Upgrade — Thanks To Neighbors Who Stepped Up To Help

New Life Interim Shelter has provided families housing and social services for 30 years, operating out of a 1920s auto garage.

Kelvin Johnson, program director at New Life Interim Housing Shelter, ceremonially breaks ground on the shelter's major renovation.
Block Club Chicago/Joe Ward
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ROGERS PARK — A Rogers Park shelter for women and children will soon undergo a much-needed rehab after operating the last 30 years out of an auto garage.

New Life Interim Housing in Rogers Park held a ceremonial groundbreaking Wednesday at its North Paulina shelter, where it houses women and children in a one-room auto shop built in the 1920s.

The shelter works with families who need temporary housing — up to 120 days — and offers them job training, legal help and assistance finding permanent housing.

The facility has allowed nonprofit Good News Partners to offer much needed housing and social services for families, but its building fell into disrepair. Thanks to the help of local businesses and a fundraising push by neighbors, the nonprofit is now able to rehabilitate its shelter to provide a more dignified and beneficial stay, shelter and nonprofit officials said.

“This is a place where dignity is restored, where hope is given,” said Kelvin Johnson, the longtime program director of New Life Interim Housing. “I feel it in my heart that we have to continue the legacy.”

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Children and parents stay at New Life Interim Housing in Rogers Park on June 2, 2021.

New Life Interim Shelter celebrated 30 years of providing families a place to stay during tough times this year. In 1991, the nonprofit Good News Partners opened the shelter on Paulina Street north of Howard Street, adding to its portfolio of affordable housing in the neighborhood.

The building hasn’t received many upgrades since then.

The 5,000-square-foot building is held up by a leaky bow truss roof. Its lack of interior walls makes the building drafty in the winter. Its lack of air conditioning and windows makes it sweltering in the summer, though industrial-sized fans help produce a breeze.

RELATED: Rogers Park’s New Life Housing Shelter, Operating For 30 Years Out Of Old Auto Shop, Seeks Help With Renovation: ‘We’re In Desperate Need’

Off the shelter’s main room, the only bathroom has four shower stalls, but only two currently work and the bathroom is not accessible to those with disabilities.

A renovation has long been in the works, and shelter officials launched a final fundraising push this summer so it could begin the work.

Since then, Good News Partners has raised about $100,000 for the project, bringing its total raised to $450,000, said Jan Hubbard, the former executive director of Good News Partners who is now helping to lead the renovation effort.

The renovation project will cost about $650,000. The nonprofit took out a loan to finance the rest of the project and is still fundraising to cover that debt, Hubbard and other officials said.

Credit: Good News Partners
Renderings of New Life’s renovated dining room and computer lab.

The project would cost significantly more if not for the donated materials and labor, officials said.

All the new kitchen cabinets and lounge furniture have been donated. A local lumberyard is supplying wood at-cost. Chicago nonprofit Designs 4 Dignity contributed pro-bono design work.

“When we’ve asked for help, people have responded,” said Dana Teeter, another volunteer helping to raise funds. “That says so much. It’s helping us to continue offering the services we do, but on a next level.”

Work on the project will begin as city permits are secured, officials said. The build out will take about three months.

In the meantime, New Life has moved about 20 of its residents to the Jonquil Hotel, a single-room occupancy building owned by Good News Partners.

Once finished, New Life will have a new reception area, intake offices, computer lab, play room, dining room and kitchen. It will have eight, fully accessible single-stall bathrooms with their own showers. New heating, cooling and electrical will be installed.

“When we’re done, it’ll be like a whole new building,” Hubbard said.

To donate to New Life’s shelter rehab project, click here.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Michyah, 8, poses for a photo at Good News Partners in Rogers Park on June 2, 2021.

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