Thirty-five years ago, a group of concerned Evanston residents founded Mental Illness Housing Options, now known as Impact Behavioral Health Partners. Their goal was to provide permanent supportive housing for Evanston residents being discharged from psychiatric hospitals as an alternative to homelessness and institutions. They believed that everyone deserves decent housing and that individuals with serious mental health problems can live independently with the right supportive care. Over the years, Impact has grown and now offers housing, employment services, clinical and support services.
Initially, Impact owned a six-apartment building in Evanston, which was responsible for both interior and exterior maintenance. Today, they own five additional small apartment buildings and manage six apartment buildings owned by the Reva and David Logan Foundation. They also have a “Pathways” program that houses 26 people in scattered apartments throughout the community. Recently, they launched a Family Supportive Housing Program, but the need for resources far exceeds what is currently available.
One of their recent accomplishments is the construction of a 16-unit building in Skokie. The building is located in downtown Skokie, with amenities such as a small workout room, storage area, community room with a demonstration kitchen and a computer room. Each one-bedroom apartment is flooded with natural light and features contemporary furniture and artwork. These apartments are fully ADA accessible and come with an all-electric kitchen, fresh linens, and a bright and clean bathroom. Impact is excited for participants to become part of the Skokie community.
The Skokie project was made possible with $8 million in funds, donations, and funding from various sources. It took seven years from planning to completion, and Impact acknowledges the support of their dedicated Board of Directors and partnerships with organizations like Equinix, which resulted in significant donations and in-kind services.
The need for housing and support services continues to grow, as one in four adults in the United States has a diagnosed mental health disorder. Stabilizing housing situations is a priority for Impact participants before addressing mental health issues. Participants are referred by local social service agencies and undergo comprehensive assessments of their independent living skills. Services provided by clinicians, case managers, employment specialists, and nurses are available to residents, along with a 24/7 mental health crisis hotline.
Impact’s team of 58 employees serves approximately 700 individual participants on an annual budget of $3.8 million. They rely on grants, service fees, and donations for revenue.