Housing Forward

Ending Homelessness

aka Housing Forward   |   Maywood, IL   |


Housing Forward's mission is to transition people from housing crisis to housing stability.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Ms. Lynda Schueler

Main address

1851 S. 9th Ave.

Maywood, IL 60153 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

West Suburban PADS



NTEE code info

Temporary Shelter For the Homeless (L41)

Homeless Services/Centers (P85)

Other Housing, Shelter N.E.C. (L99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

On any given night in west suburban Cook County, approximately 1,200 people were either in transitional housing, in a shelter, or living on the street; there are many more who are experiencing housing crisis and one step way from housing Housing Forward’s mission is to transition people from housing crisis to housing stability. Since 1992, the organization has provided important safety net for people experiencing homelessness and those at risk of homelessness. Ending homelessness means addressing it at all levels – to prevent homelessness whenever possible, to respond to the crisis, and to stabilize with housing. This is only possible through a committed community, strategic partnerships and dedicated donors, aligned so can be homelessness rare, quickly detected and rapidly resolved. Working in a dedicated and coordinated manner, we can achieve our goal that every individual in west suburban Cook County can move from housing crisis to a permanent home in the community.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Emergency Assistance

Emergency Assistance provides referrals and emergency financial assistance for food, housing, utilities and transportation to individuals and families at urgent risk. Our goal is to address the immediate crisis so the individual or family can work on additional steps on the path toward stability. The Prevail program's staff and volunteers listen to each person’s individual situation and, working together with the client, use solutions-based counseling to develop a plan of action. Plans developed with our clients include services and referrals such as eviction and utility shut-off assistance counseling and referrals, public transportation passes for job interviews and medical appointments, assistance obtaining identification required for a job or to receive benefits, overnight shelter and transitional housing referrals, basic necessity clothing and interview clothing referrals, meal program and food pantry referrals, medical, dental, optical and prescription service referrals. In 2017, 854 households received $84,406 in financial assistance to end a financial or housing crisis.

Expenditures are intended to remove the threat of crisis and are not intended to be an ongoing source of assistance. As such, eligible expenditures are generally limited to once per year, except where otherwise noted, and will only be made when designated funds are available. Additionally, in order to provide assistance for as many individuals/families as possible, care should be taken to provide the minimal amount required to address the situation effectively.

Population(s) Served

Housing Forward's Interim Housing Program, launched in the fall of 2020, provides individual accommodations individuals and families experiencing homelessness for up to 90 days. The focus of the program is to assist clients in making connections to housing resources and ending their homelessness as soon as possible. In addition to accommodations, we provide structured programming with intake and assessment, housing-oriented wrap-around services, case management, pre-tenancy services, on-site health assessments, and income supports either through employment and/or entitlement benefit supports. In the course of their 90-day stay, program participants work to achieve a more permanent housing destination. Housing Forward maintains three distinct interim housing facilities totaling 70 beds.

Population(s) Served

Housing Forward offers an integrated array of Supportive Services aimed at reducing the length of homelessness for our emergency shelter guests and helping them work toward achieving and sustaining stability. The Support Center provides a critical level of service for homeless men, women and families. It is the only such program in Housing Forward's 20-community service area. The Support Center is a year-round, five-day-a-week, facility in Maywood that provides services that meet both basic needs of self care as well as critical health needs.   Basic services offered at the Support Center, which are necessary for daily living, include showers, clothing, storage lockers, access to computers, voice mail and mail service. Equally important are the case management services offered to address short- and long-term goals to assist clients in ending their homelessness. The vast majority of our clients endure debilitating conditions that can be barriers to obtaining stable housing. More than 60% of clients have a persistent mental illness, an addiction, a physical disability, a major health disorder or a co-occurrence of these conditions. Combine these health challenges with unemployment, a lack of marketable job skills, no support network and/or overwhelming debt and it’s understandable that our clients need hope, guidance and a myriad of professional services. The Support Center’s case management services are flexible, client-centered and tailored to the particular needs of the person or household.  Needs are addressed holistically through our integrated continuum of services. Generally, the intensity and duration of case management is determined by the client’s income and level of functioning.

Our Health Services program is designed to provide outreach to the special needs population. Health Services improves their access to care by offering a comprehensive approach to medical, mental health and addiction conditions. The Health Services program is housed at the Maywood Support Center.

Population(s) Served

Employment Readiness helps homeless and low-income individuals’ (re)enter the workforce through employment preparation training, career services, transportation and basic needs assistance, employer outreach, referrals to training and education, and job placement and retention services. The goal of the Employment Readiness program is to provide our homeless and low-income clients with the services necessary to break down barriers to employment, and to assist in their search for sustainable employment.

The Employment Readiness program has two tracks tailored to a participant’s needs:

Employment Readiness, which offers a one-on-one employment and basic skills assessment, career coaching, job search strategies, and job placement for low-barrier, low-income and/or homeless individuals in our service area. Employment Readiness engages clients in a series of one-on-one appointments with skills-based volunteers who provide expert employment assistance, and/or training in ‘soft skills’, while our Job Developer seeks out suitable employment placement opportunities. There is no time limit on a client’s engagement with the program.

Career Passport is an intensive five-week course that couples job readiness training with case management and group therapy for higher-barrier individuals, Career Passport runs four to five times a year, for five days a week.

Population(s) Served

Three programs providing individuals and families housing + support.

Rapid Re-Housing provides short-term financial assistance and services to quickly house those who are homeless. Interim Housing provides a bridge to stable housing for male clients who have income or are enrolled in the Employment Readiness program. Open Door Housing provides permanent supportive housing for homeless individuals with a disabling condition.

Population(s) Served

Connects with the chronically homeless shelter population and persons living in places not meant for human habitation. The O&E team helps shift their focus from daily survival to resolution of long-term needs.

Population(s) Served

Medical Respite is short-term residential care that allows individuals experiencing homelessness who are well enough to be discharged from a hospital or rehabilitation stay but too ill or frail to recover from a physical illness or injury on the streets to recover in a stable, safe environment. The National Council on Healthcare for the Homeless defines medical respite as “post-acute medical care for patients experiencing homelessness who are too ill or frail to recover from a physical illness or while living in a shelter or on the streets, but who are not sick enough to be in a hospital.”

Population(s) Served

Diversion services are an intervention designed to immediately address the needs of individuals and families who are imminently homeless and seeking shelter. The services are intended to provide case management and support to help households rely on their strengths and support network. Through an interactive problem-solving conversation with the client, our diversion specialists seek to understand what caused a person’s housing crisis and explore what immediate solutions to the crisis may be possible
The goal is to immediately get the client into a safe housing alternative, which may be short or longer-term. Some options may include a negotiated return to their previous housing; short-term, non-shelter accommodations; apartments or homes, (including shared housing); or returns to family or friends.
In some cases, financial resources may be offered to provide a safe alternative to shelter in the short or long-term.

Population(s) Served

The Families in Transition Program helps families experiencing homelessness to secure the resources they need to resolve their housing crisis or to transition quickly from their homeless situation. The program is staffed by a Family Support Specialist, a full-time case manager who specializes in the unique needs of families with minor children. The Specialist works closely with local school districts and other referral sources to identify and refer families experiencing homelessness and housing instability. The Family Support Specialist’s first order of business is to build a trusting relationship with the family. Once the family enters into case management, an intake and a needs assessment are completed. Then, an individualized service plan is developed, delineating the services that Housing Forward will provide.
Navigating the maze of school, government, and social services is frequently a top priority of the service plan.

Population(s) Served

Where we work


Outstanding Agency Partner 2007

United Way of Metropolitan Chicago

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of homeless participants engaged in housing services

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Supportive services, case management and advocacy to prevent and resolve homelessness including: financial assistance, assessment, stability services, temporary shelter, rent assistance and housing.

Number of households that obtain/retain permanent housing for at least 6 months

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served


Related Program

Supportive Housing

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The mission of Housing Forward is to transition people from housing crisis to housing stability. Our vision is the end of homelessness. We value client-centered services delivered with dignity and respect, collaborative relationships, open communication and information sharing, community support and integrity, passion, perseverance and the pursuit of excellence in our work. Our 2020 to 2022 strategic plan establishes the following goals to guides the work of the organization in this three year period:

1. Community Engagement - We will raise the importance of homelessness as a cause.
2. Strategic Partnerships - We will improve the homeless response system through community wide planning and cross-sector; cross-community approach.
3. Person-Centered Approach - We will act to resolve a person's housing needs using a personalized, tailored approach.
4. Agency Advancement - We will make ongoing and continual improvements in the way we work each day.
5. Organizational Sustainability - We will expand and strengthen unrestricted and flexible sources of revenue.

Ending homelessness means addressing it at all levels – to prevent homelessness whenever possible, to respond to the crisis, and to stabilize with housing. This is only possible through a committed community, strategic partnerships and dedicated donors, aligned so can be homelessness rare, quickly detected and rapidly resolved.

Our work will continue to advance interventions that address housing instability and to set a pathway of housing stability for those who have become homeless, with particular emphasis on those with the greatest needs. The priorities for the next three years are to:

1) Strengthen and improve access to existing services and housing by improving processes between the agency's program areas and to maximize mainstream programs and partnerships; Increase the number and variety of supportive housing units, including specialty housing for high-risk populations and full-adopting service models that improve health and wellness outcomes; Engage community stakeholders, public entities and services providers to improve touch-points and service intersections that strengthen coordination, improve client interventions, and expedite the delivery of services and housing while prioritizing needs and client choice.

2) Build agency capacity (human, capital and technology) to support programmatic growth and infrastructure demands and establish efficiencies where appropriate.

3) Strengthen financial resources, while striving to expand our non-public financial resources and maximizing public funding.

4) Continue to build agency visibility and public awareness of our comprehensive solution to homelessness.

The work of this plan requires creative thinking and new approaches. It means working in conjunction with existing partnerships and forging new peer and cross-sector partnerships. The plan's strategies will require a growth in funding from private donors, the government, and the philanthropic sector. Through collaborative approaches and aligning collective resources, we will help shape system-level and local responses to improve access to services and housing, set a path towards eradicating homelessness, and effectuate change.

In order to grow, we will commit the first year of the plan to provide a comprehensive review of our core programming, human capital, operations and facilities in order to help inform, guide, and sustain future growth. Also, in the next three years, we will increase our sphere of influence while leading local and regional initiatives and achieve a standard of agency excellence.

This plan also calls for building the agency's financial sustainability. While the agency's federal funding grows and state funding poses formidable fiscal challenges, the agency will work to continue efforts to build a strategic reserve through unrestricted private funding.

Housing Forward is the only organization in west Cook County with a comprehensive “housing + services" solution for transitioning individuals and families from housing crisis to housing stability. Over the past 28 years, the organization has built an integrated approach which has transformed the lives of more 17,000 people to date. By emphasizing prevention, supportive services, employment readiness and supportive housing, we are able to offer a long-term solution that moves clients into housing quickly and keeps them there. This approach to homelessness is more efficient, more fiscally responsible and less traumatic to clients who are typically facing extraordinary hardship. It is also beneficial to the communities being served who do not have to bear the costs of homelessness in the form of expanded social services, health care and public safety costs.

Our services are supported by a network of 1,100 volunteers, 40+ congregations and service groups, 17 local partner agencies and more than 20 property management companies. By leveraging the resources of these community partners, we are able to more effectively serve those in need.

Housing Forward's programming is designed, implemented and evaluated by a highly credentialed staff. Executive Director Lynda Schueler joined the agency in 1998 and is a founding member of the Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County.

Recent Achievements:

Housing Forward’s strategy has delivered some amazing gains in addressing homelessness and exceeded many of the priorities outlined in our last Strategic Plan. We strengthened services and programs to assist clients to improve their skills, to increase access to employment and to help them transition from homelessness to stable housing.

Merger with Prevail: Through our merger with Prevail in 2015, we expanded our crisis response for those facing a financial crisis that threatened their housing stability and thereby averted homelessness. Additionally, we expanded our capacity to place clients into job training or employment with skills-based volunteers and established relationships and formalized agreements with over 70 training programs and employers.

Expansion of Supportive Housing: With new funding and expanded partnerships, we increased our capacity to provide long-term housing for single adults and families whose barrier to sustainable housing was due to a disabling condition. From 2014-2016 the number of permanent supportive housing units grew from 13 units to 166, positioning Housing Forward as the largest provider of tailored housing solutions in suburban Cook County. As the number of individuals placed in permanent supportive housing continues to rise, the number of chronically homeless individuals using our shelter declines, indicating that our 'Housing First' approach to serving chronically homeless and/or disabled individuals is having a measurable impact within our service area.

We increased public awareness about the work of the agency with a new brand identity and engaged community stakeholders to support the future work of the agency. To draw greater attention to our solution-focused programming and our commitment to ending homelessness for those we serve, in May 2015, the agency changed its name from West Suburban PADS to Housing Forward and created a new visual identity. Public Awareness and Community Engagement: Established in 2014, the Oak Park Community Mental Health Board formed the Oak Park Homelessness Coalition (OPHC) in collaboration with Housing Forward. The OPHC is a multi-stakeholder group working to end homelessness in Oak Park, comprised of representatives from local governments, school districts, social service agencies, non-profits, the Community of Congregations, and businesses. OPHC works to develop a baseline understanding of the homelessness issue in Oak Park, goals and strategies to combat homelessness, tactics to create a public-facing campaign that educates people about the issue and how people can help, and a broad coalition to help those who are homeless or in danger of being homeless.

We broadened agency reach and visibility through Coordinated Entry: In the fall of 2016, Housing Forward was selected by the Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County to lead the development and implementation of a Coordinated Entry system for suburban Cook County.


Housing Forward

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Housing Forward

Board of directors
as of 07/10/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Heidi Vance

Team Blond

Term: 2018 - 2023

John Ciancanelli


Steven Glass

Howard Brown Health Center

Lynda Schueler

Housing Forward

Robert Hahn

Dimensions Management Corporation

Peggy Johnson

Catholic Charities

Marc Kieselstein

Retired, Kirkland & Ellis

John Tulley

University of Illinois at Chicago

Camile Lindsay Kumi

Office of the Governor, State of Illinois

Christopher Parker


Barbara Best

Capital Strategies Investment Group

Paul Betinski

Desmond & Ahern

Rebecca Daisley

Advocate Aurora Health

Pamela Conley Euring


Henry Fulkerson

Retired, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Timothy Granholm

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Emanuel Johnson, II

Robert R. McCormick Foundation

LeTisa Jones

Village of Broadview

Vena Nelson

Illinois Department of Public Health

Allison Park


Delilah Jenkins

Croke, Fairchild, Morgan & Beres

Bob Tucker

Chicago Community Loan Fund

Destiny Woods


Steven McMahon Zeller

Dykema Gossett PLLC

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 12/13/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data


No data