Chicago nonprofit opens home for teenage girls and young women in crisis

A Chicago nonprofit has opened a residence for teenage girls and young women who are in crisis in the city's Chatham neighborhood.

Gyrls in the H.O.O.D. was started by Chez Smith as an outreach program to provide girls and young women with much-needed reproductive health education and feminine hygiene products. She said many girls skip school because they cannot afford adequate menstrual products each month.


The outreach introduced Smith to girls who were essentially homeless – moving from relative to relative and sleeping on trains – and she decided to open a home that is more than a shelter. 

"They are kind of living here and there, all over, maybe a grandmother's a week, and an aunt's a week later," said Venisha Bonds, H.O.O.D House Director of Operations.

The H.O.O.D House is designed to feel like home, with warm decorating touches. 

"We are hoping to expand and increase capacity. We have a waiting list of girls waiting to get in," said Smith. "We need to get a bigger space. We are fundraising to purchase a home or building to house more girls, and provide our wrap-around services in house."