About The Night Ministry

What We Do

The Night Ministry compassionately provides housing, health care, outreach, spiritual care, and social services to adults and youth who struggle with homelessness, poverty, and loneliness. We accept individuals as they are and offer support as they seek to improve their lives. We invite others to join this hope-filled work.

Our History


1976

Our Founding

A coalition of diverse North Side congregations hires Rev. Tom Behrens to reach out to people where they gather at night in response to isolation, despair, and homelessness among individuals on the streets. Tom’s first office is the trunk of his car.

1982

Addressing Youth Homelessness

Tom meets a young person experiencing homelessness, raising his awareness of the issues faced by homeless youth. He begins working to improve services for them

1984

Volunteers Come On Board

We begin recruiting volunteers to help with street outreach and hire a staff member to begin outreach with homeless youth.

1988-89

Outreach and Health Ministry Program

We acquire a mobile home vehicle and begin our Outreach and Health Ministry Program to bring free basic medical care to locations where services are needed most.

1992

Open Door Shelter

Our Open Door Shelter in Lakeview begins housing homeless youth ages 14 to 21.

1993-94

Health Outreach Expansion

We purchase a new customized Health Outreach Bus and expand services to six nights a week and to include neighborhoods on the South Side.

1997-99

Local and National Recognition

We receive the Governor’s Hometown Award, Chicago Department of Public Health’s Award of Excellence, and the Illuminator Award from Web MD.

2003

Rapid HIV-Testing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awards us a grant to pilot rapid HIV-testing on the Health Outreach Bus, one of the first non-clinical mobile settings for the new test.

2007

New Youth Housing Programs

We double our bed capacity by opening two new youth housing programs—the Response-Ability Pregnant and Parenting Program (RAPPP) and the STEPS Transitional Living Program.

2011

The Crib

We open The Crib, an emergency overnight shelter for young adults ages 18 to 24. It becomes a model for youth shelters in Chicago and is recognized for its LGBTQ-competent services.

2014

New Health Outreach Bus

A new, custom-designed 38-foot Health Outreach Bus allows us to more effectively deliver health care and expand our services on the streets of Chicago.

2015

Street Medicine

We launch the Street Medicine Pilot Project to serve the hardest-to-reach homeless individuals in encampments across Chicago.

2017

Phoenix Hall

Phoenix Hall, a residence for North Lawndale College Prep High School students experiencing homelessness, opens as part of the North Lawndale Student Housing Initiative.

2018

Health Outreach Expands

Street Medicine becomes a permanent part of our Health Outreach and Ministry Program.

4711 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL 60640 | Phone: 773-784-9000