That Deborah’s Place is Chicago’s Leading Women’s Shelter has been asserted by staff and supported by a quick look at the history of Deborah’s Place. For the last 25 years, Deborah’s Place has been a standout in sheltering Chicago’s homeless women in part because no one else stepped up to do the job. In 1985 concerned women organized to address the problem of women in Chicago who were on the street and lacking permanent, dependable housing.
These pioneers worked together to secure space for a shelter, eventually finding room in a church gymnasium in Chicago’s North Side. Amazingly enough, Deborah’s was the first such shelter, established and maintained specifically and exclusively for single women in the city of Chicago. As much as the establishment of Deborah’s Place was a sign of hope for women, it was also a sign of a new urban problem – the homeless condition of single, unattached women.
Since its creation, the goal of Deborah’s Place in Chicago has always been to provide necessary support and shelter to a fragile subset of the city ‘s population, homeless, single women. Offering shelter at the outset to some 30 women, Deborah’s Place has grown and developed for the last 25 years until the statistics it currently provides indicate it currently services some 400 women each year helping them to effectively break the cycle of homelessness.
As a leading women’s shelter in Chicago, Deborah’s Place is a real beacon of hope for women who have found themselves on the street for a long list of reasons. What brings women to Deborah’s Place is a long list of modern day problems including the economy, joblessness, medical and psychological issues, estrangement from family, relocation, low rent housing shortages and substance issues. No matter their particular problem, women come to Deborah’s Place each day and find comfort, care and shelter.
To reach a growing clientele of homeless women, Deborah’s Place has expanded its services and now includes Community Learning Centers at several alternate locations where women can seek out and grow from participation in educational and personal development programs. The services provided to women are targeted to help them live proactively instead of as victims in their approach to their homeless situation. Women coming to Deborah’s Place also can benefit from health services and assistance with employment issues. According to records compiled by Deborah’s Place, last year 53 women moved directly off the street into supportive housing units operated under the auspices of Deborah’s Place.
As Chicagoans prepare to move into the second decade of the 21st Century, it seems impossible that shelters like Deborah’s Place are still predicting that some 12,000 women will be on the streets of Chicago, not shopping the Magnificent Mile, but hunting desperately for stable housing. While winter may be the most compelling time to consider the problem of the homeless, for women without shelter the issue is overpowering for 365 days each year.