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Neli Vazquez Rowland

Neli Vazquez Rowland has been recognized throughout Chicago for creating one of the most successful multifaceted organizations that addresses important issues like homelessness, unemployment and addiction. In 1994, Neli and her husband started A Safe Haven, a comprehensive program serving those in recovery, based out of a 13-unit building they rehabbed during an economic downturn. Over the years, A Safe Haven has grown from a modest “act of kindness” to an operation that employs over 200 people, has an annual budget of $16 million, and houses thousands of those in need. A Safe Haven now has 500 apartments at 16 sites for permanent housing and an additional 1,375 beds for temporary housing in a program that includes supportive housing, meals, case management, drug and alcohol treatment, health care, job training and placement, and transition to affordable housing. Neli has been honored for her efforts, including being named Chicagoan of the Year in 2010.

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