Officials from the Howard Brown Health organization, public officials and community supporters gathered in Uptown Sept. 10 to break ground on a new Broadway Youth Center location.
Projected for a 2021 opening, the five-story facility, at 1053 W. Irving Park Rd., will be about 20,000 square feet, said Howard Brown Health CEO and President David Munar, who moderated the event. He called the occasion a "crossroads in Howard Brown's history."
Broadway Youth Center ( BYC )which is operated by Howard Brown Health and mainly assists unstably housed LGBTQ youthhas spent years looking for a permanent home. After launching in Lake View, it encountered opposition from local residents in various locations, ultimately settling in its current location at 4009 N. Broadway in 2014.
Howard Brown attempted a few years back to combine BYC facilities with its primary Sheridan road location, but the logistics there also did not pan out. Munar said the new location has been in development for about four years, and would include primary-health services, among other features.
Illinois state Rep. Yoni Pizer discussed efforts by state officials to assist in the funding for the new facility, calling the organization "a beacon for people throughout the Chicagoland area and beyond." State Sen. Sara Feigenholtz also delivered remarks, especially praising Ald. James Cappleman's advocacy for the project.
Robert Garofalo, MD, one of BYC's co-founders, also delivered remarks, paying tribute to many colleagues who helped bring the agency to eventual fruition, along with Howard Brown Health Board Chair Mario Treto Jr.
"It's not really the money that's building this projectit's the years of tenacity of the youth who have cycled through what will be this building and its other iterations," said House Majority Leader and state Rep. Greg Harris.
BYC Executive Director Latonya Maley explained that BYC was powered by "magic" inherent in its staff, who continue to make the facility relevant for its constituency. She introduced some of BYC's peer advocates, a few of whom were at one time clients of the agency.
"I used to be a participant here back in '08 and 09," said Monica Brown, BYC's TGNC youth intervention specialist. "Getting a job with BYC is something I always wanted to do. Bringing up folks who are part of our community is something I've always wanted to be a part of."