LOGAN SQUARE – Plans to open a community-funded mental health clinic in the North West have taken a leap forward as project leaders have settled on the facility’s location after years of planning and advocacy.
The team leading the effort signed a lease on the storefront at 3557 W. Armitage Ave. in Logan Square last month. Officials said they expect to open the mental health center, the third such facility in the city, within about six months of completion.
Funding for the facility comes from property tax increases approved in 2018. It will provide a full range of services including individual therapy, couples and family therapy, group therapy, psychiatry and case management.
A group of officials, mental health advocates and professionals involved in the project met in December at Hermosa’s En Las Tablas Performing Arts Center to sign the lease, the culmination of years of planning and organizing.
“We all cherished that moment because it felt so surreal,” said Michelle Texcahua Reyes, the group specialist who created the clinic.
Since 2018, community leaders have been pushing for the establishment of a mental health clinic in the area. But the effort dates back to 2012, when Logan Square’s only city-run mental health clinic at 2354 Milwaukee Avenue was closed, along with 11 other city clinics.
The closure of Logan Square sparked protests and a town hall hearing. Many locals were outraged when the facility was replaced with a gourmet macaroni and cheese restaurant and a 4 a.m. bar, moves that defined Logan Square’s gentrification struggle for several years.
In 2018, a group of community volunteers sprang into action, collecting thousands of signatures to open a community-funded mental health clinic in Logan Square, Hermosa or Avondale.
Their efforts — under the direction of the Save Our Mental Health Services Coalition in Chicago — led to a binding referendum to open a clinic on a 2018 municipal ballot.
A referendum proposal to raise property taxes to pay for clinics won overwhelming support from voters in the North West, making the measure law.
related: NW Side is getting community-funded mental health clinic thanks to overwhelming voter support
A committee of nine local residents was appointed — five from the governor and four from the mayor — to oversee the creation of the clinic. The 0.025 percent property tax hike — which advocates say equals about $4 in property tax increases for every $1,000 homeowners pay — went into effect in 2020.
Commissioners, in collaboration with other mental health advocates, conducted a community survey and then, through a request for proposal process, selected Nfp Extended Mental Health Services of Chicago as the clinic’s health care provider in summer 2021. The provider also operates The Kedzie Center in Irving Park, the city’s first community-funded mental health clinic.
The choice of provider sparked a search for suitable storefronts that took more than a year, commissioners said.
Angela Sedeño, executive director and CEO of Chicago Expansion Mental Health Services, said, “We were looking for a space that all three neighborhoods could use, that was close to public transportation, and had some roads. Side parking, preferably not metered.” “Finding a spot is tough; it’s challenging.”
The 5,000-square-foot Armitage Avenue warehouse checks many of the group’s boxes. It’s located at the junction of Logan Square and Hermosa, has off-street parking and is convenient to the Armitage No. 73 CTA bus, commissioners said.
The clinic is taking over the middle suite of the large industrial-style building, which was renovated a few years ago and includes the former home of the early 1900s Bismark Theatre, later renamed the Armitage Theatre.
Commissioners say they are hiring contractors to realize their vision for a bright and inviting community mental health clinic.
When it opens, the clinic will have up to eight clinicians, plus two graduate clinicians. About 60 percent of services will be provided in clinics, while about 40 percent will be delivered on-site, in schools, church basements and other community spaces, Sedeño said.
Sedeño said the clinic will serve specifically separated immigrant families and Avondale Restorative Justice Court participants — needs identified by the community.
Over the next few weeks, project leaders will ask neighbors to help name the clinic. There will also be community focus groups in which neighbors will weigh which mental health services should be provided, the commissioner said. Further information will be available on the group’s website.
Commissioner Charlotte Flynn said: “Knowing how long it’s been going on and knowing that we’re so close to making it physically, tangibly present in the community … it’s really exciting and people are excited about the resulting The results are promising.” .
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