By Tina Rounds, Executive Director of BEDS- Plus
This year has been a year unlike any other in our 30-year history. Similar to all businesses, we have had to quickly modify our operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the support of the La Grange Area community, we are doing are best under these very stressful circumstances.
The mission at BEDS Plus is to help vulnerable individuals stabilize their lives through housing and supportive services. As you may know, we deliver three primary lines of service to reduce and end homelessness in Southwest Suburban Cook County: Prevention, Emergency Services, and Supportive Housing. On a typical year, we serve between 1,500 – 2,000 clients.
BEDS Plus helps people in poverty and those who find themselves homeless. This pandemic has created a financial crisis for many area families already on the edge of homelessness. Emergency shelters throughout the Chicagoland area have decreased capacity or closed and, like BEDS, providers have been forced to transition to an expensive motel-based model that serves less people. The homeless, and especially those living outside, are a particularly vulnerable group and at increased risk for severe illness due to COVID-19. Many of our clients are older adults and have underlying medical conditions.
From mid-March through the end of July, BEDS delivered 12,506 nights of emergency shelter to 234 clients and provided 37,518 meals in the first months of our response to the COVID-19 crisis. We have expanded our street outreach efforts in anticipation of the growing need within suburban Cook County. Despite the disruption of COVID-19, BEDS Plus housed 1,250 clients through housing and prevention services last fiscal year. Just in the last three months, we have facilitated more than $200,000 in rental assistance to prevent area residence from becoming homeless and we anticipate an increased demand throughout the coming year.
Volunteer and donor support have always been a critical part of the work we do at BEDS. However, as COVID-19 continues to affect those who are poor and homeless and the economic consequences of COVID-19 pandemic push more people into instability, it takes on a new significance. This generosity helps us leverage federal, state and county programs and stretches financial donations so that we can reach more people in need. It also fosters a sense of community and hope we all desperately need right now.
One recent example is our pandemic food delivery and rescue. Each day, we provide fresh meals to our 100+ shelter clients living in motels and the approximately 40 most vulnerable households in our housing program. We are grateful for the support of community restaurants such as Palmer Place, Blackberry Market, Kama Bistro and others who have donated meals and participated in our Match-a-Meal program. Supporters such as American Family Insurance – Phillip Wagler Agency and Fornaro Law have matched customer donations at Palmer Place for meals for our clients. We have also developed a food rescue program with Trader Joes in LaGrange who donates approximately 500 pounds of food each week that is delivered by volunteers to families in our housing programs. It’s incredible LaGrange!
Thank you for your continued and faithful support of our community.
BEDS Plus has been working to end homelessness in our community for over 30 years. They play a significant role in making La Grange the village with a heart and they are an important member of the La Grange Business Association.