Community-Funded Northwest Side Mental Health Clinic Is Coming To Logan Square

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LOGAN SQUARE — Plans to open a community-funded mental health clinic on the Northwest Side have taken a leap forward as project leaders have secured a location for the facility after years of planning and advocacy.The group leading the effort last month signed a lease on a storefront at 3557 W. Armitage Ave. in Logan Square. Officials said they expect to open the mental health center, the third such facility in the city, in about six months after building out the space.The facility is being funded through a property tax increase 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 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 that moment because it felt so surreal,” said Michelle Texcahua Reyes, a commissioner for the group that’s worked to create the clinic.Credit: Google MapsA mental health clinic paid for by community members is opening at 3557 W. Armitage Ave. in Logan Square.Community leaders have pushed for a mental health clinic in the area since 2018. But the effort dates to 2012, when Logan Square’s only city-run mental health clinic at 2354 N. Milwaukee Ave. was shut down, along with 11 other city clinics.The Logan Square shutdown triggered protests and a City Hall hearing. Many locals were furious when the facility was replaced with a gourmet mac and cheese restaurant and a 4 a.m. bar, moves that defined the gentrification fight in Logan Square for several years.A group of neighborhood volunteers sprang into action in 2018, gathering thousands of signatures to open a community-funded mental health clinic in Logan Square, Hermosa or Avondale.Their efforts — guided by the Chicago Coalition to Save Our Mental Health Services — led to a binding referendum to open a clinic on the 2018 municipal ballot.The referendum, which proposed a property tax hike to pay for the clinic, won overwhelming support from Northwest Side voters, cementing the measure into law. RELATED: NW Side Is Getting A Community-Funded Mental Health Clinic Thanks To Overwhelming Support Of VotersA nine-member commission of local residents was appointed — five by the governor, four by the mayor — to oversee the creation of the clinic. The .025 percent property tax increase — which advocates said equates to about $4 for every $1,000 homeowners pay in property taxes — took effect in 2020.Commissioners conducted community surveys in partnership with other mental health advocates, then selected Expanded Mental Health Services of Chicago Nfp as the clinic’s health care provider in summer 2021 through a request for proposals process. The provider also runs The Kedzie Center in Irving Park, the city’s first community-funded mental health clinic.The provider selection set off a search for the right storefront that took more than a year, commissioners said. “We were looking for a space that was accessible to all three neighborhoods, close to public transportation, had some street parking available that was ideally not metered,” said Angela Sedeño, executive director and CEO of Expanded Mental Health Services of Chicago. “Finding a space was rough; it was challenging.”The 5,000-square-feet Armitage Avenue warehouse checks a lot of the group’s boxes. It’s on the border of Logan Square and Hermosa and has street parking and easy access 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 early 1900s Bismark Theatre, later renamed the Armitage Theatre.Commissioners said they’re hiring a contractor to bring their vision of a bright and inviting community mental health clinic to life. Once open, the clinic will have up to eight staff clinicians, plus two graduate clinicians. Sedeño said about 60 percent of services will be provided within the clinic’s walls, while about 40 percent will be done on-site, in schools, church basements and other community spaces.Credit: ProvidedNeighborhood volunteers submitting signatures to the Cook County office to get a referendum on the 2018 ballot.The clinic will cater specifically to immigrant families who have been separated and participants of Avondale’s restorative justice court — needs that were identified by the community, Sedeño said.In the coming weeks, project leaders will ask neighbors to help name the clinic. There will also be community focus group, where neighbors will get to weigh in on what mental health services should be provided, commissioners said. More information will be provided on the group’s website.“Knowing how long it’s been in progress and knowing that we’re so close to having it be physically, tangibly in the community … it’s just really exciting and there’s a lot of hope for what’s to come out of that,” Commissioner Charlotte Flynn said.Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation. Thanks for subscribing to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods. Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”:

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