Help Empower Women Who are Homeless in Chicago

May 27, 2014

Jennifer's Story

Jennifer feels she has been silenced throughout too much of her life. She was silenced through child abuse, human trafficking, and many years of homelessness. Despite all this, Jennifer is firm that she was never a “damsel in distress”; she used her own strength to escape and survive. She is now a resident of Sarah’s Circle’s permanent supportive housing program. In addition to maintaining her apartment, seeing a psychiatrist regularly, and addressing chronic, debilitating back pain, Jennifer is pursuing a long-time dream of creating a line of natural skin care products. She has been researching production methods, experimenting on a small scale with lotions and astringents, and developing a business plan. While Jennifer is still in the early stages of starting a business, she feels empowered, explaining, “I’ve finally become more of who I am”. 

Other stories like Jennifer's can be found in our 2013 Annual Report. Click here to view Sarah's Circle 2013 Annual Report.

Feb 24, 2014

New Interim Housing Space Completed

Completed Interim Housing Space
Completed Interim Housing Space

With the help of over 50 volunteers, we completed the renovations to our interim housing space this past December. Volunteers and the staff from Sarah's Circle came togehter to help paint, assemble beds, clean, and complete various tasks so we could move the interim housing program to this space.

The renovated space has 50 new beds, room for personal storage, and is ADA accessible. Our supportive services are also located in the same facility for greater accessibility.The goal of the interim housing program is to help women move into permanent housing as quickly as possible with intensive case management, housing coordination, and other individualized services tailored to the strengths and challenges of the individual. 

Even with the previous shelter arrangement, construction, and a move this past year, the program increased the percentage of women exiting the program with income from 42% to 51% and improved housing placement rates from 25% in 2012 to 31% in 2013. 

Thank you for helping us to fulfill our mission of helping the most vulnerable women in Chicago rebuild their lives!


Nov 26, 2013

New Building Complete, IH Renovations Underway

Women Permanently Housed in SC
Women Permanently Housed in SC's Apartments

In early September, we completed construction on our new home and moved our administrative offices and Daytime Support Center to our new location greatly increasing our capacity to effectively serve daily drop-in clients. We also moved ten formerly chronically homeless women into the ten new, fully furnished apartments on the third and fourth floors of the new building. 

On October 13th Sarah's Circle hosted a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to celebrate the milestone of our completed building! The event was well attended by staff, volunteers, clients, and donors. We were also grateful to count Alderman James Cappleman, Lieutenant Governor Shelia Simon, and State Representative Greg Harris among the ceremony's attendees. 

In mid-November, we began renovations on our 4750 N. Sheridan location to transform the space into a best practices Interim Housing site for the women in our 50-bed shelter. The renovations are expected to be finished within a month and will greatly increase the comfort of the women in our program as well as our capacity to serve them well.

Sarah's Circle would not have accomplished these goals without you. Thank you for helping us to fulfill our mission of helping the most vulnerable women in Chicago rebuild their lives!

Sep 4, 2013

Interim Housing (IH) Renovations!

IH new space plan
IH new space plan

Construction on Sarah’s Circle’s new building is nearly complete. We have successfully moved our administrative offices to our new location at 4838 N. Sheridan Rd. and plan to have our daytime supportive services running from this location, as well as ten women moved into their brand new apartments on the building’s 3rd and 4th floors, in a very short while.

Sarah’s Circle now has the opportunity to implement our plans for improving our Interim Housing program and providing more women with high quality services. In November, 2011 we took on the largest Interim Housing (Shelter) program for women in the City of Chicago. The 50-bed program is intended to be a comprehensive interim housing program, providing 24-hour shelter, supportive services, and placement directly into permanent housing, with a goal of a stay of less than 120 days. Last year over 80 women successfully entered permanent housing from our interim housing program and we believe that an improvement in our current Interim Housing facilities will yield greater results.

The women who enter our program deserve a bed, a few inches of personal space, a safe place to store few personal belongings, and the opportunity for success. Sarah’s Circle will retain our current space at 4750 N. Sheridan Rd and conduct the minor renovations needed to transform it into a full service, single site interim housing program. This strategy of reworking the current space allows us to use an existing kitchen, showers and laundry facility, making this a very economical way to create a proper Interim Housing Facility.

Women in the interim housing program will still be encouraged to attend Sarah’s Circle’s daytime program at our new location for clinical groups, educational and general interest programming, and the like, but the Interim Housing program will be private, secure, and self-contained in accordance with best practices. Case management, meals, daily necessities, and some clinical services will be provided in the program space. Women will have beds with secure storage lockers, room dividers for some degree of privacy, and greater flexibility around use of the space, as determined with program staff. The facility will also be fully ADA accessible. These facilities improvements will put the program in accordance with best practices in homeless services, and will dramatically improve the environment for growth, change, and fast placement into permanent housing. The changes will also eliminate the barriers to fully capitalizing on Sarah’s Circle’s particular knowledge and expertise in serving the most vulnerable women.

We are all deeply grateful for all the support you have given us, and ask that you consider another gift to Sarah’s Circle or specifically for this project!


Sarah's Circle 

Jun 5, 2013

21 Chronically Homeless Women Permanently Housed

"When you offered me this apartment, I didn't think I could make it another year homeless. I was so happy - I was in shock!"

These words were recently spoken by one of our clients, "Jane." After suffering several spinal injuries in 2001, Jane was forced to leave her job. She received disability benefits for a few years but in the process of losing her house to property taxes and taking care of her dying mother, Jane missed the renewal deadline for her benefits and subsequently lost them. She soon became homeless and struggled with housing stability for several years. Jane had been staying in shelters continuously for over four years when Sarah's Circle offered her a spot in one of our new Permanent Supportive Housing units. 

Sarah's Circle's Permanent Supportive Housing provides homes for women who struggle with chronic homelessness, meaning they have a disabling condition and have been homeless for years. The model, which includes intensive case management, has been proven to improve individual outcomes and reduce costs on public services. 

In 2012 Sarah's Circle added 10 new units of Permanent Supportive Housing, bringing our total number of units to 21. Jane is now one of 21 women living in these units. With new security and stability to work on her health and income goals, Jane is happier and healthier.

Very soon, the 10 most recently added units will be relocated to the third and fourth floors of Sarah's Circle's new building.These apartments will be fully furnished, have plenty of natural light, and each floor will have a sitting area as well as a laundry unit. To learn more about our new building, please visit our website

Thank you for all you do to help women rebuild their lives!

P.S. Sarah's Circle's 2012 Annual Report is now published! To learn more about our activities and the accomplishments we made with the help of our donors in 2012, please see the report. 

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Project Leader

Elizabeth Dunn

Chicago, IL United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Help Empower Women Who are Homeless in Chicago