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PADS homeless shelter to merge with women’s safe haven

Abbie Kristan 27 plays with her children Oliver 3 months Bearik 6 playground front their home Mary PMaddex Place Gurnee

Abbie Kristan, 27, plays with her children, Oliver, 3 months, and Bearik, 6, at a playground in front of their home, Mary Pat Maddex Place in Gurnee, a recovery program for women and their children. | Judy Masterson~Sun-Times Media

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Judge supports Maddex
transition to PADS

Catholic Charities did not return a call seeking comment on its exit from Mary Pat Maddex Place, which offered it’s social services and championed the program with annual fundraisers.

But Lake County Circuit Judge Margaret Mullen, who helped found the transitional living center in 1998 said she supports the transition to PADS oversight.

“We’re so grateful to Catholic Charities, but PADS is a great institution and it’s going to be a great way to help more homeless,” Mullen said. “I feel very confident whatever decision PADS makes will be in the interests of all the residents and their children.”

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Updated: September 29, 2013 2:17AM

It’s not that they’re not grateful, say the women of Mary Pat Maddex Place, a drug rehab and parenting support program in Gurnee that will soon morph into a year-round homeless shelter. It’s just that, once again, the future is uncertain.

“They’re totally disregarding the fact that we’re in recovery,” said Ashley Tillman, 25, a recovering alcoholic and pill user who was able to keep custody of her 9-year-old son by moving to the safety and stability of Mary Pat Maddex Place 18 months ago.

“This is one of the only places in Lake County that helps a woman get clean and get her kids back. We’ve found a program that gives us the support and space we need and now they’re taking it away.”

The 15-year-old Mary Pat Maddex Place, named after a social worker who died young and who fought for moms in recovery, will soon welcome residents from the Family Center, a year-round homeless shelter operated in Waukegan.

The Lake County Residential Development Corp., which owns the building that houses Maddex Place, recently awarded the operations contract for the program to Lake County PADS, which runs the Family Center. Maddex had been run since its inception in 1998 by Catholic Charities.

“We’re going to have more monitoring going on,” said Mary Ellen Tamasy, LCRDC executive director. “We’re going to have 24/7 staff. Some women residing there (Maddex Place) don’t like that.”

But women at Maddex Place say the PADS takeover means the breakup of a trusted recovery community.

At Maddex, Tillman and other women who live independently in separate apartments, attend mandatory weekly therapy, parenting and job sessions overseen by on-site Catholic Charities staff. They also attend outside recovery groups like AA and NA. When PADS Lake County takes over on Aug. 23, Maddex women must turn over their keys, sign-in and sign-out of their building, and abide by stricter rules, including curfews and, mandatory wake up times and, they claim, bed checks.

Lake County PADS Executive Director Joel Williams acknowledged that change is coming to Maddex Place, which is located in a small apartment complex in central Gurnee.

“We will refocus it as a homeless program,” he said. “Homelessness encompasses and overlaps so many complex issues. Recovery is one of those issues.”

Tamasy said the shift to PADS was spurred by increasing pressure from HUD, which funds Maddex Place with $80,000 a year, for “across the board” fair housing.

“HUD is saying if it’s an independent unit, you must accept men,” Tamasy said.

But Maddex moms, some who came out of abusive relationships, say men on the premises will make it less safe. They see the PADS “label” as “a step back” and argue that the stricter rules that come with shelter living fly in the face of their hard-won independence.

The move is a step-up, Williams said, for PADS, which was in need of a new location for its Family Center, now operated out of the former St. Bartholomew’s Catholic School at 8th and Lincoln streets, in a poor neighborhood on Waukegan’s South Side.

The Archdiocese of Chicago wants the space back, according to Williams, who said PADS will commit funding and staff to the Maddex/PADS facility.

“We’re hoping this transition of Mary Pat Maddex Place is going to be one of just many positive transitions taking place,” Williams said.

For the last group of Maddex moms, however, the future includes a scramble for new housing - despite assurances by both PADS and LCRDC that they can stay-out their two years.

“They’re taking everything we’ve worked so hard for, they’re taking it back,” said Maddex resident Cheyenne Tiller, 28.

“It’s not about recovery anymore.”

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