DuPagePads: A mission to end homelessness in DuPage County

October 21, 2022 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

New funding from Edward-Elmhurst Health is supporting an innovative model that provides lodging for families and individuals experiencing homelessness and connects them with wraparound services to improve their health and well-being, and help them access stable housing.

For 35 years, DuPagePads has provided food, shelter and case management services to unsheltered people. Their mission is simple: end homelessness in DuPage County.

That mission is now being supported through Edward-Elmhurst Health’s Community Investment Fund. In July 2022, Edward-Elmhurst Heath announced it had awarded $3,994,000 to 14 organizations across Cook, DuPage and Will Counties with the goal of advancing health equity and supporting local economic growth. The funding for DuPagePads will finance transportation, staffing and other services.

Historically, DuPagePads has operated shelters out of places like auditoriums or church basements. But when the pandemic began in March 2020, the organization began lodging people in hotel rooms.

“Housing is health,” said April Redzic, the President and CEO of DuPagePads. “We saw zero outbreaks of COVID because no one was sharing the same space.”

DuPagePads saw a 500% increase in case management utilization. Mental health incidents dropped by 80% while physical health incidents dropped by 75%. The hotel has allowed the organization to double its capacity from 150 to more than 300 people per night.

“We took what we learned and shared it with supporters like Edward-Elmhurst Health,” said Redzic. “They felt strongly that people experiencing homelessness in our county should have a dignified, safe place to stay.”

In March 2022, DuPagePads bought one of those hotels as a permanent Interim Housing Center (IHC). The organization is the first in the region – and one of only a handful of institutions across the country – to purchase a hotel to provide lodging for people who are unsheltered.

The IHC has a resource room where people can access basic items like microwave meals, clothing and shaving items. DuPagePads also provides case management and healthcare navigators to connect people with the medical and behavioral health services they need.

Redzic says the Edward-Elmhurst funding will impact DuPage County’s entire ecosystem, as people with a safe place to stay are more easily able to have a job and enroll their children in school.

“Small things like access to regular meals, a bed and a shower make a huge difference,” said Redzic. “Edward-Elmhurst Health’s support is making it possible for the people staying with us to improve their health and well-being, end their journey of homelessness and have a home of their own.”

Learn more about Edward-Elmhurst’s Community Investment Fund partners.

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