St. Leonard's Ministries celebrates 25 years of housing the formerly incarcerated

St. Leonard's Ministries
Officials with St. Leonard's Ministries and the City of Chicago celebrated the 25th anniversary of St. Andrew's Court, a 42-unit apartment building on Chicago's Near West Side, which houses formerly incarcerated men. Photo credit St. Leonard's Ministries

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — St. Leonard’s Ministries held a rededication event Tuesday morning to celebrate the 25th anniversary of St. Andrew’s Court.

The 42-unit apartment building on the Near West Side houses formerly incarcerated men while offering healthcare, job training and substance abuse services.

“It was revolutionary when it opened 25 years ago, and it is revolutionary today,” said Zack Schrantz, CEO of St. Leonard’s Ministries. “610 residents and alumni and counting.”

St. Leonard’s efforts to provide the formerly incarcerated with permanent, supportive housing has been the product of a public-private partnership — one of the first of its kind in Chicago.

Schrantz said St. Leonard’s success speaks for itself, as it’s created a significantly lower recidivism rate than the state average and has generated alumni who continue to pay it forward.

“We are very proud that 40% of our permanent employees are alumni of our programs,” he said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot attended the rededication event.

She shared that the program is very personal to her, since her brother spent most of his adult life incarcerated.

“He's been out now about five years, but he's 66 with a high school degree and struggles every single day,” the mayor said.

Lightfoot said St. Andrew’s Court helps those who have been incarcerated gain a sense of power over their own lives.

“Residents in CHA units can stay as long as they like, ensuring that they have enough time to get back on their feet and begin contributing to their communities and city in a productive and fulfilling way,” said Lightfoot.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: St. Leonard's Ministries