Project Fierce Chicago ( PFC ) launched publicly in April 2013 and is the brainchild of Cassandra Avenatti. Prior to the organization's launch, Avenatti brought four other people onboard as co-founders.
PFC is, according to its website, "a grassroots collective of radical social workers, youth advocates and other community members who are working together to establish community-driven, identity-affirming housing in Chicago. Project Fierce's mission is to reduce LGBTQ youth homelessness in Chicago by providing transitional housing and support services to LGBTQ-identified young adults."
Last year, they purchased a four-flat home in North Lawndale on the West Side and began clean-up shortly afterward and renovations about two weeks ago.
"Breaking ground on the renovations is the culmination of community effort and intention," said Jacqueline Boyd, PFC co-founder and rehab manager of the home renovations. "Over the years people have given what they could so this home could be purchased and developed. We as the Project Fierce Core are honored to shepherd this idea to fruition and appreciate the continued support of our donors and volunteers. This home has the potential to offer a resting place for LGBTQ + identified young people who may have run out of options. The housing shortage in Chicago is truly dire, I've had young people waiting for three years to secure housing. The environment Project Fierce seeks to establish is designed to meet the needs and support the strengths of young people."
Their goal is to have the renovations finished by the summer 2017 and residents moved in shortly thereafter.
"I love to work on jobs that are good for the community," said Second Chance Renovations General Contractor David Figueroa. "I like to be a part of organizations who's focus is to make a difference, not only in the community, but in our world. What Project Fierce is doing is vital for the LGBTQ community. Also, they are great to work with. I am grateful to them for giving us the opportunity to complete their project and as an added bonus it gives our guy's work so they can provide for their families and stay off the streets."
"We are a radical organization that does not seek out or accept government or state grants," said PFC Project Administrator Gaylon Alcaraz. "Our focus on re-envisioning how restorative justice looks is unique and to take money from those entities would harm the youth we serve."
Alcaraz added that the organization has paid out $25,000 for construction work and had site visits with several foundations where PFC leaders walked them through the property and showed them the designs. The total rehab budget is $60,000.
To raise additional funds, PFC will be hosting multiple house parties and Alcaraz is in the process of writing grants to various foundations that support LGBTQ homelessness and housing.
"We will have design renderings at the fundraiser and hope to meet our fundraising goals that afternoon," said Boyd. "I'm excited to share our vision after all the hard work and effort by PFC volunteers over the past year with the Breakfast N Beds attendees. For those who cannot attend, we encourage them to donate on our website.
See projectfiercechicago.org/ for more information.
On Sunday, Nov. 13, PFC will be holding its 3rd Annual Breakfast N Beds fundraiser at 1-4 p.m. at the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, 4046 W. Armitage Ave. To purchase tickets visit www.flipcause.com/secure/cause_pdetails/MTE4ODA= .