Leslie’s Place support home in danger of closing

Leslie's Place photo.png
alt text By Julia Mondschean, Criminal Justice Reporter, The Real Chi

After 25 years, a West Humboldt Park support home for formerly incarcerated women is close to being shuttered. When Leslie Brown-Simmons became the first woman in Illinois to be granted clemency, she experienced first-hand the difficult transition out of incarceration and opened Leslie’s place in 1994, hoping to ease the process for other women.

Two weeks ago, Brown-Simmons discovered that her house is listed for sale on Auction.com, a website where bank-owned real estate is auctioned off. Leslie’s Place staff and the women in the program are currently occupying the house.

The two-flat has housed hundreds of women over the years and provided valuable resources to help them restart their lives. In Illinois, the recidivism rate is over 30 percent for two years after release, and is over 50 percent after six years, according to the Sentencing Policy Advisory Council. According to Leslie’s Place, 87 percent of the women who go through the program never go back to prison.

Brown-Simmons knew the house was in trouble and secured people to pay it off last year. In December, she and her buyers were waiting for Bayview, a loan servicing company, to do an appraisal of the home in December, but Bayview abruptly postponed. Brown-Simmons waited for months but never heard back.

“I was surprised because I didn’t think the mortgage company would lie,” she said. “I gotta get this reality out of my head that everybody’s honest and fair and trustworthy.”

Brown-Simmons knew a foreclosure was in process, but found out just last week that it had been finalized before she and the donors had a chance to save the house.

On Tuesday, Brown-Simmons called Bayview and the Johnson Blumberg and Associates, the law firm that handled the foreclosure. Both companies told her to call the other.

Bayview did not respond for comment, and a senior attorney at Johnson Blumberg refused to comment, citing company policy.

Currently, the future of Leslie’s Place is unknown to its occupants, and Brown-Simmons.

“I keep telling myself God has a reason, but I don’t know what the reason is,” she said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

If you are interested in supporting Leslie’s House, they can be reached at lesliesplace1994@gmail.com or 773-342-8384.There is an online fundraiser available here: https://www.gofundme.com/save-leslie039s-place