New shelter for homeless young women, transgender youths being built near Des Plaines

  • A new Harbour House emergency shelter for young women and transgender youths is being built near Des Plaines. This architectural artwork shows the proposed exterior.

    A new Harbour House emergency shelter for young women and transgender youths is being built near Des Plaines. This architectural artwork shows the proposed exterior. renderings Courtesy of Kinzie Builders

  • This architectural artwork shows the proposed interior of the Harbour House emergency shelter.

    This architectural artwork shows the proposed interior of the Harbour House emergency shelter.

 
 
Updated 6/11/2021 5:41 AM

Construction has begun near Des Plaines on a new emergency shelter for young women and transgender youths experiencing homelessness in the North or Northwest suburbs.

It doesn't matter if prospective residents are runaways, have been kicked out of their homes or are homeless for other reasons -- the aptly named Harbour House is designed to be a safe port during a difficult time.

 

The roughly $1.3 million facility will be operated by The Harbour, a nonprofit group headquartered in Park Ridge. The one-story, 3,500-square-foot building is being built in Maine Township on the North East River Road property that houses the current Harbour residential facility.

The older facility, a two-story farmhouse built in the early 20th century, will be razed once the new one is complete. A February 2022 opening is expected.

"We are so excited," Executive Director Kris Salyards said.

Founded in 1971, the Harbour offers emergency shelter, as well as meals and clothing, for people ages 12 ti 20. The state-licensed organization also provides transitional housing for young adults ages 16 to 24 in supervised group living situations or apartments for independent living.

Pregnancy and parenting support, educational assistance and employment assistance are available, too.

The Harbour has occupied the East River Road building since the 1980s. It's in poor shape and doesn't meet safety codes or disability requirements.

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"We (are) building out of necessity," Salyards said.

The new Harbour House will include short-term living quarters for up to 10 residents, a kitchen and dining area, shared bathrooms, a therapy room, a great room, a study and other amenities.

With more space and features that meet modern accessibility standards, the new facility will be able to accommodate more types of clients, such as mothers with children and people with disabilities.

Construction was delayed because the COVID-19 pandemic hurt the organization's fundraising, and the program's future became unclear. But some especially generous donors got the project on track, Salyards said, and ground was broken earlier this month.

"We know how important this project was to our girls, to our kids," Salyards said. "So it's awesome that the house will be built and the flagship program that we were built on can continue."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The new facility was designed by OKW Architects and is being built by Kinzie Builders, both of Chicago.

Both companies reduced their usual fees to help make the project affordable.

"We made a pledge to give back to the community both in terms of financial support (and) donating our time and talents," Kinzie Builders founder Steve Spinell said in a news release.

"We couldn't think of a better way to pay forward our success than to have a hands-on role in helping The Harbour continue its mission."

Fundraising for the new Harbour House and related programming is continuing. Visit harbour2020.com to learn more or to contribute.

If you're a young person needing emergency shelter, visit harbour247.com or text "shelter" to 77948.

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