Since 2007, the Heart of Illinois United Way has recognized on partner agency each year for their outstanding leadership, collaboration and engagement with the United Way. At the United Way’s 2018 Annual Meeting, South Side Office of Concern received the Jim and Katie Owens Partner Award.
A member of the Heart of Illinois United Way family of agencies since 1986, SSOC was founded more than 35 years ago to feed the hungry and provide information and referral to help neighborhood members improve their lives eventually leading to the foundation of the Peoria Anti-Hunger Coalition.
United Way funding in 1986 provided case management and services for people with disabilities. Growth continued and the agency began receiving funding for mental health services from the Illinois Department of Human Services. In 1989, the agency secured funding from HUD and purchased its first house to begin a community housing program. Throughout the 1990s, permanent supportive housing offerings continued to expand with the acquisition of additional houses for adult males with mental health issues. An employment program began in 1996 to complement the growing agency’s identified gaps in its services.
In 2008, SSOC doubled their community housing capacity to continue to serve homeless adults with disabilities. And in 2012, with the closing the YWCA, the agency stepped up to manage additional housing programs. Two years later, the agency opened an adult living center for homeless vets with a mental illness. Today, the agency has expanded their permanent supportive housing while providing the first housing to support homeless couples.
From that first United Way grant in 1986, South Side Office of Concern has been an outstanding partner with the Heart of Illinois United Way and the Heart of Illinois Homeless Continuum of Care that was founded in 1994. From partnering with the interim shelter model launched last year, to providing rewarding volunteer experiences to teams across the area, the South Side Office of Concern with 148 units of housing, is the largest agency dedicated to ending homelessness in central Illinois.