What is Bridge Communities?
Based in Glen Ellyn, a western suburb of Chicago, Bridge Communities offers transitional housing and support services to homeless families that live and work in DuPage County. Founded in 1988 by community volunteers Mark Milligan and Bob Wahlgren, Bridge has grown to include nearly 100 units of transitional housing and 18 shared-equity home ownership condominium units.
What is transitional housing?
Transitional housing provides apartments, supportive service and a stable environment to homeless families who are working to improve or develop the skills necessary to live independently. This is typically defined by a two-year time period. Bridge Communities works with local faith-based and community action groups that provide mentors and essential financial support. Bridge provides professional case management, education tutoring, career counseling and coaching, and donated automobiles.
What is the meaning of an "invisible" homeless person?
For many Americans, the word "homeless" evokes a mental image of a single male with some type of substance abuse or mental health problem loitering in a public place. This is the image of the visible homeless. In reality, the picture of homelessness in America today is a family portrait. Bridge Communities serves the homeless family - the "invisible" homeless. Typically, this is a single parent with kids in school that are bouncing from home-to-home of family and friends.
How does a family become homeless?
Two trends largely responsible for the rise in family homelessness over the past several years are:
What are the homeless statistics in DuPage County?
Most Americans are misled by popular media and pre-conceived notions about whom homelessness affects. Homelessness disproportionately affects families with dependent children. The average age of homeless in the United States is age eight.
For complete statistics and goals to end homelessness in DuPage County, please visit DuPage County Homeless Continuum of Care at www.dupagehomeless.org.
Who does Bridge Communities serve?
Bridge Communities serves extremely low, low and moderate income families who have become homeless due to reasons such as divorce, domestic violence, loss of employment, and health issues.
Bridge Communities is not appropriate for homeless families that have an extensive history or current substance abuse problem, criminal history or chronic disability.
What are the goals of Bridge Communities?
- As a non-profit organization, Bridge Communities' mission is to:
- Inspire and affect change by advocating for homeless families.
- Provide services and opportunities that connect families to a better future.
- Collaborate with faith-based partners, community action groups and businesses to leverage resources and create long-term solutions.
- Lead by example through innovative program and grassroots involvement.
What is the process a family undergoes before being accepted into the Bridge Communities Transitional Housing Program?
When a family comes to Bridge Communities, they are carefully screened and once found eligible, connected with a faith-based or community-based Program Partner. After that point, the family is provided with safe affordable housing, life-skills mentors, career counseling and coaching, reliable transportation, tutoring for adults and children, and case management.
What is the key to a family's success in the Bridge Communities Transitional Housing Program?
Bridge Communities is an organization about change. Each person involved in the Transitional Housing Program will experience change. The client family must have the desire and willingness to work hard to create long-term change that will provide the skills to be financially independent which will allow for stable housing and a brighter future for their family. Volunteer mentors are at the heart of the Bridge Communities Transitional Housing Program. Mentors will experience a change in their own views on poverty and family homelessness. Every party must have an open heart and a willingness to work hard.
If your family is homeless or facing homelessness, please contact us at (630) 545-0610 ext. 20.
Bridge Communities is a program that transforms lives of homeless families. Surveys completed in 2014 show that, one year after graduating from the Bridge program:
- 94% of graduates maintained stable housing
- 84% of graduates maintained stable employment