Thirty-five years ago, a group of concerned Evanston residents started Impactful Behavioral Health Partners, It was then called Housing Options for the Mentally Ill, to help provide permanent supportive housing to Evanston residents exiting mental institutions. They wanted to create an alternative to homelessness or institutions.
The group believed that every person had the right to live in decent housing, and that with appropriate supportive care, even those with serious mental health problems could live independently and with dignity.
Since their first meeting, the organization has grown. Today, in addition to providing housing, Impact provides employment, clinical and supportive services. “Between July 2022 and June 2023, we provided housing for 64 participants, nursing services for 63 participants, worked with 482 participants in employment services and helped 157 participants find permanent jobs,” said Patti Kabush, Executive Director of Impact Foundation.
I started with a flat six
They acquired their first house in Evanston in 1991. The donated six-apartment house had four two-bedroom units and two one-bedroom units. From the beginning, Impact took care to maintain the property inside and out. The handyman regularly mowed the lawn, shoveled snow, and fixed anything that needed repair.
thirty–Two years later, that first building, called “Home First,” is still standing strong. Impact now owns five additional small apartment buildings (three two-bedroom apartments, one three-bedroom apartment, and one with nine two-bedroom apartments). For two-bedroom apartments, Impact pairs roommates.
Impact currently manages and hopes to purchase a six-apartment apartment currently owned by the Reva and David Logan Foundation. Additionally, Impact’s “Pathways” program has 26 people living in apartments scattered throughout the community.
Impact recently started a “Family Supportive Housing Program” for adults dealing with mental illness and raising school-age children. The program currently helps six families in District 65, although IMPACT officials say the need far exceeds available resources. Impact works closely with District 65 social worker Allie Harned, according to Lori Flanagan, Impact’s director of development.
The round table has Previously mentioned on hundreds of children in District 65 who are dealing with housing insecurity and homelessness.
The average length of stay for most residential participants is nine years, but a few long-term participants have been with Impact for 15, 20 or even 30 years, according to Kabush. Housing participants contribute to the rent as much as they can.
New 16 unit building in Skokie
The newest addition is a 16-unit building in Skokie. Final inspections are underway. RoundTable toured the new Lanam Rapp building with Skokie Fire Chief Jeff Hoeflich.
The Lanam Rapp Building, 8047 Floral Ave., is located in the heart of downtown Skokie off Oakton Street. Behind the three-story L-shaped building is a small parking lot with outdoor seating. New plants spread around the building. The windows of the community room face the street.
On the first floor behind the lobby is a small exercise room with three stationary bikes; A storage area with locked containers for each resident to store items such as luggage; A large community room with a demonstration kitchen (for planned cooking classes) and television; computer room; a bike room containing some donated bikes and bike helmets; and two private office rooms for Impact therapists to see clients.
Lots of natural light in each unit
On the second and third floors, one-bedroom apartments fit into one of five different floor plans. Natural light fills every apartment. Each window has retractable roller blinds for privacy.
Each unit exudes comfort. Fully electric kitchens include plates, utensils and basic cooking equipment. Each bed is made with fresh linens, and the accessible bathrooms are bright and clean.
The units are furnished with modern furniture and artwork. Designs for Dignity donated the furniture on the first floor and much of the art is hung in the hallways. Each apartment is fully ADA accessible with lower tables and wider doorways.
“Everyone has been very welcoming,” Flanagan said of the building’s reception so far in Skokie. “We are excited to have our participants be part of the Skokie community.”
Housing first, then supportive services
For the Skokie project, Kabush said they received a total of $8 million in funding, donations and tax credits from the Illinois Housing Development Authority, Cook County, Equinix (a global digital infrastructure company), and the Lanam Rapp family, for whom the structure is named. . WJW Architects were the architects. Synergy Construction Group was the builder. The project took seven years of planning to complete.
“Impact would not have been able to grow and increase its visibility without a dedicated Board of Directors, past and present. The recent collaboration between Impact and Equinix, a leading global data center, was a direct result of connecting with a member of Impact’s Board of Directors. This collaboration resulted in Donations and in-kind services worth more than one million dollars.
According to Flanagan, owner The Village Inn Pizzeria Sports Bar and Grill stopped by to encourage residents to inquire about part-time jobs at the restaurant, and librarians from the Skokie Public Library, just a few blocks away, stopped by to encourage every future resident to get a library card.
Kabush points out that one in four adults in the United States has some type of mental health disorder. For the typical Impact participant, stabilizing their housing situation is the biggest priority, a precursor to addressing any mental health issues. Housing participants are referred by local social service agencies that work with people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Before entering the housing program, each Impact participant receives a comprehensive assessment of their independent living skills. “Comprehensive support” is the priority. Services available to residents include those provided by physicians, case managers, staffing specialists, and nurses. Each resident has phone numbers they can call 24/7 if they are experiencing a mental health crisis.
“These services help participants live full lives in the community,” Kabush said.
The need for housing and supportive services is growing, Kabush said. Impact’s team of 58 employees serves 700 individual participants annually, all on a budget of approximately $3.8 million. Impact derives the majority of its income from grants, service fees, and donations.