BEDS constructs new permanent housing for chronically homeless

Nicole Klein, Freelance Reporter

After being involved with BEDS Plus for about 20 years, Board of Directors Treasurer Richard Hillsman has seen many people that have been helped by the organization. One person he will always remember is a gentleman that lived on the street for two years and began using BEDS overnight shelters. Since he didn’t have to worry about where he was going to sleep each night and where his next meal was going to come from, he was able to address his physical and mental health issues.

BEDS was also able to help him find an apartment and job. Now, he is a contributing member of society; a “poster child” of what the organization can do for someone, Hillsman said.

“BEDS staff and volunteers help a number of different people that are in different stages of instability and we get to see them be positively impacted every day,” Executive Director Tina Rounds said.

BEDS is a non-profit service organization for people who are homeless or at risk of losing their homes, Vice President of the Board of Directors Mark Laubacher said. BEDS is located in metropolitan areas like LaGrange and its mission is to stabilize people’s lives.

BEDS offers shelters that give someone a place to sleep and meals, Rounds said. These shelters rotate from local different churches, including St. Francis Xavier and First United Methodist, each day for certain parts of the year. The shelters are short term assistance for immediate needs. BEDS is building a new complex at 9601 W. Ogden Avenue that can serve as a long term permanent housing for clients who have struggled with homelessness for a long time.

“I firmly believe the only way to end homeless is to give homeless people a home,” Clay Edwards, a volunteer for five years, aid. “This new project is a small dent but it is a step in the right direction.”

The new building will have three floors, Laubacher said. The first floor will include offices and day center operations that will be moved from some of the churches. Day center operations support and help people with things such as job referrals and setting people up with benefits that they may be unaware they have.

The second and third floors will include 20 studio apartment rooms, which means BEDS can house 20 people in this building, Hillsman said.

“Construction started in May and it is our hope to be done by the end of January as long as there are no big weather delays,” Edwards said.

People who want to live in the building will first be interviewed, Rounds said. They have to meet certain requirements such as being chronically homeless and having a documented disability.

“We hope people can start moving in by the spring,” Rounds said.

The building is similar to a normal apartment, Rounds said. It is a permanent living space where the people have to follow the set rules. It also offers a communal laundry unit and someone who works at the front desk.

“I think this building will serve as a beacon of hope and will demonstrate our community’s resolve to address the problem of homelessness,” Hillsman said.