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WINGS Shelter Coming to Southwest Side

Survivors of domestic violence on the city’s Southwest Side will soon have somewhere to turn for emergency housing and comprehensive social services.

WINGS Metro — a 40-bed shelter tentatively scheduled to open early next year in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood — will also include street-level retail space that organizers say will help generate increased economic activity in the surrounding community.

WINGS Metro is scheduled to open early next year on the Southwest Side.

Renderings by Pappageorge Haymes Partners

“Chicago Lawn, and generally the South Side, have a large number of folks that deal with domestic violence on a daily basis, so the more services we can provide for our community the better,” said Christine James, director of commercial and technology services at Greater Southwest Development Corporation (GSDC). 

The project is a joint effort of GSDC, Women In Need Growing Stronger (WINGS) and Metropolitan Family Services, in collaboration with city representatives and private funders. GSDC is serving as the primary developer, while WINGS will manage daily operations. MFS will contribute supplementary social services. 

The City of Chicago has contributed a pair of lots and a vacant building that will be incorporated into new construction, plus $1.8 million in settlement funds from a recent legal battle with a problematic strip club. 

WINGS CEO Rebecca Darr credits Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office with allowing her organization to fulfill a longstanding operational goal of expanding into the city proper. Historically, her agency has functioned primarily in the suburbs.

Housing for families

The four-story WINGS Metro will provide both temporary and longer-term housing options for women and their children in a secure and largely anonymous location. The facility’s suite-based layout is designed to maximize privacy while retaining space for cooking, dining, working and children’s play areas. 

City officials said WINGS Metro represents one of the most significant expansions of domestic violence housing in more than a decade. The shelter represents a roughly 25 percent expansion in the number of total available beds in Chicago. 

The facility's location on the Southwest Side will allow its operators to connect with individuals and families who are most in need of the services they will provide. 

The new building will provide shelter for women and children who have been subjected to domestic violence.

“The new shelter will be located exactly where the need is greatest, based on the volume of domestic violence calls to Chicago Police and the Domestic Violence Help Line,” Department of Family and Support Services spokesman Matt Smith wrote in an email. “By locating the facility in Chicago Lawn near the sixth, seventh and eighth police districts, we will be able to provide support to victims living in a region of the city that has a high incidence of domestic violence but no available domestic violence shelters.” 

Planners behind the effort are now working with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to prepare the site for construction. Work on the facility itself is expected to begin by late summer, allowing for a grand opening sometime in early 2015. 

The project is expected to cost roughly $6 million. To supplement the $1.8 million in support from the City of Chicago, organizers have launched a capital campaign to raise private donations and grants. LISC Chicago will provide a $100,000 grant with funds from JP Morgan Chase. 

Posted in Housing, Chicago Lawn


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Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier.

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