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Primo Center Opens its Newest Location in the Heart of the Austin Neighborhood

The new shelter will provide 210 beds for homeless families and public health services led by Lawndale Christian Health Center

After more than 40 years, Primo Center, Chicago’s largest provider of shelter and services for homeless families, returns to the Austin neighborhood where it was founded by the late Bishop Quintin Primo Jr. in 1978, with the opening of its new interim housing facility on Thursday, August 12. The center, located at 4952 W. Madison Street, will provide integrated housing and health services to families experiencing homelessness and offer health services for residents of the greater Austin community, in partnership with Lawndale Christian Health Center (LCHC).

Primo Center will host an open house event on August 12 and invites community stakeholders and leaders to commemorate the official opening of the center. The program, which begins at 11am, will include a tour of the new facility, courtyard, a blessing of the building by the Reverend Doctor Marshall Hatch, Sr., Pastor of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, and feature speakers from various community leaders, including Alderman Jason Ervin. Media interested in attending and covering the event can reach out to lellison@pcipr.com for more information.

“We are thrilled to be coming home to the Austin neighborhood to further fulfill the late Bishop Quintin Primo Jr.’s vision to create innovative and transformative programming for Chicago’s homeless women and children,”” said Christine Achre, CEO of Primo Center. “Over the last 43 years, we’ve increased our capacity and now provide over 330 units of family shelter providing comprehensive care addressing the social determinants of health. We believe we can bring child homelessness to a functional zero in Chicago, and this new facility allows us to serve more families in need and with the help of Lawndale Christian Health Center, bring necessary pediatric services to a community in need.”

According to Rush University’s 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment, the life expectancy of residents, predominately Black and Brown, in Austin is 71, which is 11 years shorter than residents in the neighboring Oak Park neighborhood. Primo Center and LCHC’s partnership aims to diminish the barriers to accessible, quality health care. There are currently two community-based health centers in the neighborhood, which has a population of more than 97,000, compared to the six centers in the neighboring Oak Park.

“Our team at LCHC is grateful to have been invited by Primo Center to provide quality healthcare to shelter residents and members of the Austin community” said James Brooks, Vice President of Mission and Community Engagement. “Through our growing partnership we believe we can make a greater impact for families experiencing homelessness and increase access to quality primary care for neighbors in Austin.”

The new health clinic has four exam rooms and will provide primary care services for both children and adults. While initially focusing on residents of Primo Center and others experiencing homelessness, LCHC will soon provide access to comprehensive healthcare to any community member. LCHC’s integrated clinical team will work to address the social determinants of health that are prevalent in the Austin community with services including quality healthcare, behavioral health, care management, onsite laboratory and vaccinations, and more.

The Center’s innovative approach to care meets families where they are to develop an individualized plan to help families regain stability and independence. According to Primo Center, studies show most homeless families are headed by a single mother, and 93% of homeless women have experienced some form of violence during their lifetime. Primo Center’s trauma-informed approach to care is critical to create a therapeutic environment that builds trust between case managers and families. This approach makes them feel safe and ready to work on their healing. Mental health services, including sessions with an on-site psychiatrist, are offered to individuals within one week of arrival at Primo Center’s sites.

With locations in the Austin, Englewood and Hermosa communities, Primo Center is Chicago’s leader in providing family shelter and permanent supportive housing, integrated physical, dental and mental health care, early childhood development and supportive services to homeless families. Primo Center works with families for as long as they need, never kicking anyone out, and often staying engaged with them after they’ve moved on to permanent housing. As a result, more than 74% of families in the shelters were placed into stable permanent housing with fewer than 5% returning to homelessness and over 90% of families placed in permanent housing continue to receive follow-up services.

Primo Center assists more than 1,300 women and children affected by extreme poverty annually with the aid of more than 100 volunteers, 90 staff members.

About Primo Center

Primo Center is Chicago’s largest and highest performing provider of services and shelter for homeless children and their families, providing 300+ beds of interim housing and integrated health services for Center residents. For more than 40 years, the Primo Center has empowered homeless families to become productive, responsible and independent members of their communities. Primo Center’s unique 360-degree approach to care called High Fidelity Wraparound has proven success in helping break the cycle of homelessness for children and families. To learn more about Primo Center, please visit primocenter.org.

About Lawndale Christian Health Center

The mission of Lawndale Christian Health Center (LCHC) is to show and share the love of Jesus by promoting wellness and providing quality, affordable healthcare for Lawndale and the neighboring communities. LCHC was established in North Lawndale in 1984 and provides care across 7 West-Side clinic sites and in over 12 homeless shelters in Chicago. LCHC serves as the medical home for more than 70,000 community members. Its holistic approach to healthcare has fueled the opening of a fitness center, café, urban farm & fresh market, and more to support the wellbeing of its patients and community. LCHC is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit and Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). To learn more about LCHC, visit Lawndale.org.

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