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Outstanding Non-Profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project: Brand New Beginnings, Inc., for Brand New Beginnings

For homeless women with children, finding safe, affordable, child-friendly housing is often difficult, if not impossible. But thanks to Brand New Beginnings, Inc. (BNB), a former affiliate of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, there is a new safe haven for homeless women with children.

BNB recently completed a $2.7 million rehab of a once-abandoned three-story building at 5801 S. Michigan Ave. for homeless families headed by women seeking to regain control of their lives. The facility includes 24 two- and three-bedroom apartments designed with security and safety in mind.

Oversized back porches provide easy supervision of the enclosed playground in the back yard, where children can safely play. A large community/meeting room and common laundry facility on the premises provide convenience and opportunities to share experiences and develop friendships. And 24 hour supportive services are there when needed.

As an added measure, the large apartments are equipped with "safe rooms" to deter domestic violence. All of these touches contribute to a village atmosphere, building mutual reliance and support among residents, and providing a sense of safe space.

The visionary project took seven years to grow from idea to realization, with Brand New Beginnings, Inc. serving as project coordinator and developer while supportive services are provided through a partnership with the Institute for Clinical Social Work at the University of Chicago and BNB.