Logan Square — Plans to open a community-funded mental health clinic on the Northwest Side took a leap forward after project leaders secured a site for the facility after years of planning and advocacy.
The group spearheading the effort signed a lease last month for a storefront at 3557 West Armitage Avenue in Logan Square. Officials said they plan to open a third mental health center in the city about six months after building the space.
The property is funded through property tax increases approved in 2018. The facility offers 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 at En Las Tablas Performing Arts in Hermosa in December to sign the lease, the culmination of years of planning and organizing. .
“We all cherished the moment because it was so surreal,” said Michelle Teskova Reyes, commissioner of the group that worked to create the clinic.
Community leaders have called for mental health clinics to be built in the area since 2018. But the effort dates back to 2012, when Logan Square’s only municipal mental health clinic at 2354 N. Milwaukee Ave. closed along with 11 other city clinics.
The closing of Logan Square sparked protests and city hall hearings. Many locals were outraged when the establishment was replaced with a gourmet mac and cheese restaurant and a 4 a.m. bar.
A group of neighborhood volunteers started in 2018, gathering thousands of signatures to open community-funded mental health clinics in Logan Square, Hermosa or Avondale.
Their efforts, led by the Chicago Coalition to Save Our Mental Health Services, led to a binding referendum to open clinics in a 2018 local government ballot.
A referendum proposing to raise property taxes to help pay for the clinic received overwhelming support from voters on the Northwest Side and passed the bill into law.
Related: NW side gets community-funded mental health clinics thanks to overwhelming voter support
A nine-member committee of local residents (five governors and four mayors) was appointed to oversee the creation of the clinic. The 0.025% property tax increase — which proponents say equates to about $4 for every $1,000 in property taxes paid by homeowners — he will go into effect in 2020.
The Commissioner worked with other mental health advocates to conduct community research and, through a request for proposal process, selected Chicago Nfp’s Extended Mental Health Services as the clinic’s healthcare provider for summer 2021. The company also runs the Kezy Center in Irving Park, the city’s first community-funded mental health clinic.
The choice of provider began a search for a suitable storefront that took more than a year, according to the commissioner.
Angela Cedeno, executive director and CEO of Chicago’s Augmented Mental Health Services, said: “Finding space was hard. It was challenging.
A 5,000-square-foot warehouse on Armitage Avenue ticks many groups’ boxes. According to the commissioner, it is on the border of Logan Square and Hermosa, with street parking and easy access to the Armitage No. 73 CTA bus.
The clinic takes over the central suite of a large industrial-style building that was renovated a few years ago and contains the original home of the early 1900s Bismarck Theater (later renamed the Armitage Theater).
The commissioner said he is hiring contractors to bring his vision of a bright and welcoming community mental health clinic to life.
Once the clinic opens, it will have up to eight staff clinicians and two graduate clinicians. About 60% of services are provided within the walls of clinics, and about 40% are provided onsite, in schools, church basements and other community spaces, Sedeño said.
The clinic will specifically accommodate separated immigrant families and Avondale Court of Restoration Court participants.
In the coming weeks, the project leader will ask neighbors to name the clinic. A community focus group will also be held to discuss what mental health services should be provided to neighbors, the commissioner said. Details will be announced on the group website.
“I know how far it’s going and I know it’s very close to being realized physically and tangibly in the community…it’s really exciting and there’s a lot about what comes out of it. There is hope for,” said Commissioner Charlotte Flynn.
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