Who We Are

We are facing difficult times in Illinois: political gridlock, no state budget for 14 months, cuts to schools and social services, and decades of corruption.  Lake County United continues to seek ways to move ahead.


Finally, a new Winchester House!  Over the past 9 years, we have continued our advocacy for Winchester House, Lake County’s facility for long term health care for the elderly.  Lake County United leaders have worked collaboratively with Lake County Board Members and Staff, who have a commitment to quality care for residents, as well as construction of a new Winchester House.  We expect to break ground in March, 2017 and completion by August, 2018.  All residents of Winchester House will be guaranteed a place in the new building.

LCU identified the land, secured the site and established a development team leading to the construction of Fairhaven Crossing, a 40-unit affordable housing building in Mundelein. Fairhaven Crossing will give everyone, including residents with disabilities, the opportunity to live as independently as possible. It is scheduled to be completed this November and applications now are being accepted.  Expect an invitation to celebrate the new construction some time in late November.  Lake County United is actively looking for viable land and investors for more affordable housing across Lake County.
Fairhaven Crossing in Mundelein, IL


On average, one-third of those in the county jails and state prisons are mentally Ill, contributing to a prison recidivism rate that, in the next five years, is expected to cost Illinois more than $16.7 billion.  In Lake County the top 100 highest utilizers returned to jail 8 to 17 times in one year.  The delay in seeking treatment due to stigma, lack of awareness, fewer treatment options, and the scarcity of supportive housing -- has meant that jails and prisons have become the default destination for those with mental illness.  
Focusing on diverting mentally ill from our criminal justice system is not only humane, but one way to address our crippling fiscal crisis and political gridlock.  This strategy will address resources impacting all those with mental illness.
Initially, LCU is working toward 3 goals to reduce the flow of people with mental illness into the criminal justice system:

  • Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for police and sheriff in Lake County– the proven and primary way police learn to use de-escalation tactics in dealing with a person with mental illness
  • Improving access to crisis stabilization centers, another component of diverting people with mental illness from the criminal justice system and towards appropriate treatment and services rather than emergency rooms
  • Increasing affordable/supportive housing opportunities

The Lake County Sheriff is in the final stages of submitting an application to the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standard Board (ILETSB) to become certified CIT providers.  A total of 181 full-time sworn Lake County Officers have been CIT trained.  Two additional classes will be completed by the end of 2016.  The Sheriff submitted a application for a federal grant to increase training capacity. In addition 22 of 27 sheriff’s dispatchers have been trained. LCU member institutions have offered space to host the additional classes.  
Lake County United leaders met twice with the County Administrator, who has been directed by the county board to make mental health a priority for the county. The commitment from the County Board Chairman to convene the private sector (i.e. pharmaceutical and managed care companies) to support a crisis center has been delayed.

LCU and Metro IAF affiliates (United Power for Action and Justice, Fox River Valley Initiative and DuPage United), are working regionally on mental health issues

  • In July IL Metro IAF leaders met with IL State Public Safety Director Rodger Heaton and ILESB Director Brent Fisher.  The focus was on increasing CIT classes and hosting a statewide CIT conference.  Director Heaton has agreed to attend and speak at this conference.  The ILESB has increased CIT classes from 4 to 7 statewide classes to meet the growing demand.
  • Along with state and county staff, LCU and affiliates arranged to tour two crisis centers in the region
  • In September an State Journal-Register printed op-ed from DuPage United and United Power leaders, applauding Gov. Rauner for signing important bills to address reducing prison population and encouraging him to go forward (see attached)
  • United Power for Action and Justice leaders attended a public hearing last week to speak in favor of Gov. Rauners' proposal to seek $2.7 B in new federal funds for Medicaid to address mental illness and substance abuse.


LCU member leaders continue to work toward improving the graduation rate at Waukegan High School.  Increasing college and career counselors in the Waukegan School District is an important step toward this goal.  This spring 27 leaders were trained in English and Spanish to facilitate listening sessions at Most Blessed Trinity (MBT) to better understand the concerns and interests of parents regarding their children’s education.  Over 300 parents participated and a team is working to find emerging leaders and address the concerns shared in those meetings.  This engagement led to an increase in English and computer classes at MBT.  In addition leaders met with the new Waukegan Schools Superintendent and School Board members to find ways to work together.  


LCU leaders are working to support efforts to reduce gun violence.  This can be a politically polarizing issue leading to no action, which is why Lake County United is working with our Metro Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) affiliates to pressure gun manufacturers to produce smart guns, which only allow the gun owner to use the gun.  This reduces accidents and reduces illegal sale of guns.

Our tax dollars buy about 40 percent of the guns in America; of this, the military buys about 25%, and law enforcement 15%. This is enormous market power. LCU leaders are asking local law enforcement to sign a Request for Proposal, to show manufacturers there is interest in smart gun technology.  Lake County States Attorney Michael Nerheim signed this request. In January, President Obama directed the Departments of Justice, Defense and Homeland Security to develop a plan to do this. The agencies’ plan, released on April 29, calls for Department of Justice to lead a collaborative effort with state and local law enforcement to develop specifications for smart guns for law enforcement applications. Department of Defense will test and evaluate smart-gun models.


Lake County United’s primary focus is the development of institutions, which nurture leaders to become active and effective citizens.  Dozens of leaders have participated in leadership training. This includes short evening trainings, 3-day training and 7-day training as well as hands on training.  More are planned.