The COOL Family/Transitional Housing Program has been in operation since 1988. This program provides services and programs including life skills training along with rent and utilities paid homes for homeless families, many of whom are struggling single parents. COOL guest families benefit from the opportunity to complete educational training, secure better employment and save for first and last months’ rent or a down payment on a home. While living in COOL housing, families will work with a case manager who will help to ensure that each family is financially stable and equipped for a long lasting transition to self-sufficiency upon leaving COOL.
Where are COOL Family Housing homes located?
COOL owns a 4 unit apartment building in the downtown Waukegan area near the police station where 4 families live while they work on their goal of becoming self sufficient independent, working moms, dads and couples. COOL also houses 2 families at a duplex home in the northern suburbs of Waukegan. Four more families are housed at two different sites in Zion, Illinois. All COOL Housing ‘guest” families live in scattered sites throughout Waukegan and Zion.
No families are housed, sheltered, or receive housing services at 800 Glen Flora. That location is the home of only the COOL Food Pantry East and offices for COOL executive and support staff.
Recently expanded due to the donation of a new duplex from a generous donor, the COOL Family/Transitional Housing currently provides 10 housing units for struggling homeless families to begin life anew. COOL Family Housing units include single family homes, duplex units and apartments for smaller families. Housing guests are selected from applications submitted to COOL on the basis of need, appropriateness for the program and availability of housing.
Homeless families accepted in the program should be employed full time, have a commitment to beginning a new life including establishing a savings account, and a willingness to comply with program rules and guidelines.
Guests are referred to COOL by state and local government agencies, private programs, churches, and individuals. Anyone wishing to apply for COOL Family Housing can call (847) 662-1340 for an application form or download it here.
Since the Family Housing Program was initiated, over 200 families have graduated; Fifteen saved enough money while in the program to become first time home-buyers and many were single women with children. 85% of our guests have maintained independent living long after leaving the COOL program.
Although many families applying for help at COOL are single parents, the program accepts two parent households as well as single Mom’s and single Dad’s who are motivated to work hard to achieve self-sufficiency.
COOL receives funding from government grants, corporate and private foundations, and the United Way of Lake County. COOL also receives financial contributions from member churches and generous individuals.
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Transitional Housing Without HUD Funding
Since the late 1980’s the COOL Family/Transitional Housing Program has offered a new beginning for parents with children who find themselves homeless with nowhere to turn. Over the years, this program has assisted nearly 250 families to move from poverty to self-sufficiency. While participating in the program COOL families receive structured case management, budgeting classes, constant monitoring, and learn to work and save money for the future. Many of our former participants are now living debt free lives. Some are homeowners, many have college degrees, own businesses and a surprising number find ways to give back to their own communities in order to help other struggling families to make a new life.
In a recent shift in priorities at the national level, HUD will no longer provide funding for the majority of our nation’s Transitional Housing Programs. Instead, the new HUD priority is funding immediate permanent housing for the homeless. With many years of experience we have seen that most of the families who are homeless lack the skills, education, resources and tools necessary to get themselves back on their feet, even if they are given a home, unless real change occurs within families. We know that transitional housing works because it requires residents to participate in life changing activities, opening bank accounts, working, budgeting, saving and more.
Fortunately for COOL Family Housing, HUD funding has historically been a very small part of our program. In fact, even though COOL will close 2 HUD-funded housing units effective October 1st we will continue to operate our program with 10 transitional housing units at scattered sites located throughout Waukegan and Zion. While that is indeed good news, the downside is that both of the HUD-funded units scheduled to close are 3-bedroom homes. Without those units our program will have only 2-bedroom and 4-bedroom units. Many applicants for our program include parents with two or three children. For them, a 3 -bedroom is ideal whereas occupying a 2 bedroom simply won’t work, especially when the children are of mixed genders. Likewise, placing those families in a 4-bedroom unit would not make good use of available space.
In the upcoming year, we will look for new community partners, corporate grants and foundations willing to help us continue transforming lives and moving families from permanent reliance on government assistance and poverty to true self-reliance and self-sufficiency. In the meantime, we are thankful that COOL Transitional Housing will continue to be here to help many families in the year ahead like our most recent program graduate. During her stay at COOL she saved enough money to become a 1st time home buyer!
Thank you for helping COOL to feed the hungry & house the homeless!
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