Please help us meet a dollar-for-dollar match, up to $20,000, on Giving Tuesday

Be a part of our #GivingTuesday effort this year!

We are grateful that this Giving Tuesday, November 27, all donations to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, up to $20,000 total.

This match is made possible by generous challenge grants from the Conant Family Foundation and an anonymous donor.

Now in its 7th year, Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving backed by the power of social media.

Your support with a tax-deductible gift of any size will help us reach critical fundraising goals – supporting vital work to prevent and end the homelessness that impacts thousands of Chicago area families, youth and adults. 

Supporters are also asked to share our #GivingTuesday message on social media, or join those who are helping us as “Giving Tuesday Ambassadors.”

Sign up by going to www.chicagohomeless.org/giving-tuesday and clicking the “Create my own fundraising page” link. You will be sent an email with a link to edit your goal, photo, and bio. Then you’re all set to share your link with friends and family on Giving Tuesday.

Please contact Claire Sloss at csloss@chicagohomeless.org with any questions.

Illinois News Network: Cities in Illinois eye ‘exit tax’ for pricey homes

By COLE LAUTERBACH

Illinois News Network

Some municipalities have approved, or are considering, charging a “transfer tax” on homes of a certain value.

A proponent of the additional fee is on incoming Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s transition committee, but there’s no plan to implement a statewide tax. Supporters say it generates revenue to fund needed programs, but the real estate community says it’s likely to backfire, costing renters more and ultimately depressing property values.

The city of Evanston now charges a higher transfer tax, sometimes referred to as an “exit tax,” on property sold for more than $1.5 million. Properties that sell for more than $1.5 million come with a transfer tax of $5 per $1,000 of sale price. A referendum voters approved raises that to $7 per $1,000 of sale price. For properties that sell for more than $5 million, the transfer tax will now be $9 per $1,000 of sale price.

The seller of a $2 million home, storefront, or apartment complex, for instance, would be charged an additional $3,500 on top of the other taxes and fees already in place.

Chicago aldermen have tried to do the same, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel shot down the proposal, saying the transfer tax would “treat homeowners like an ATM machine.”

Marisa Novara, vice president of the Metropolitan Planning Council, said the money is needed more than ever in a time of decreasing federal help for programs to fight homelessness.

“We are in an era of declining federal resources for things like affordable housing,” she said. “This is a way that a city can take action locally.”

Daniel Kay Hertz, research director with the Center for Budget and Tax Accountability, said this type of tax could produce a good amount of revenue for cities like Evanston, Chicago, or any of the 215 home-rule municipalities in Illinois.

“That’s a power that they already have,” he said. “[Middle-class homeowners] either aren’t going to feel anything from this or they’re actually going to have their taxes lowered, which is more likely.”

A home-rule municipality would have to make the change with approval from voters via a referendum. Voters in Evanston approved the increased transfer tax at the ballot box earlier this month.

Ralph Martire, executive director of the CBTA, sits on incoming governor J.B. Pritzker’s transition committee. Hertz said he hasn’t heard of any plans for a statewide progressive transfer tax. Pritzker’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Critics say the tax would hurt businesses and rental property owners, potentially depressing property values once investors start looking to areas without the higher fees.

“There’s nothing progressive about this tax. It will hit everyone, not just property investors,” Jon Broadbooks, vice president of Illinois Realtors, said. “If you do the math, an investor in even a modest apartment building might have to come up with tens of thousands of dollars more to close a transaction. For a seller, that means increasing the price of a property to account for the new taxes. For a buyer, that would mean raising rents to cover the increased costs of purchasing the property.”

Bring Chicago Home looks ahead to March 2020

Bring Chicago Home is looking ahead to a city referendum in March 2020, after efforts to slate it in February were thwarted by a few aldermanic opponents.

Two attempts to hold a Rules Committee meeting on Nov. 5 and Nov. 9 were thwarted by several aldermen who called for quorum, which stopped the meetings from moving forward – a rarely-used procedural maneuver in the Chicago City Council.

But Bring Chicago Home secured a quorum for the next Rules Committee meeting on Nov. 13. Our ordinance was successfully referred back to the Rules Committee, just as we wanted. Continue reading Bring Chicago Home looks ahead to March 2020

Kristen chose ‘better, not bitter’

College gave Kristen Lang “the opportunity to create my next chapter – to be better, not bitter.”

Helped by a scholarship from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Kristen earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Benedict College, an historically black college in South Carolina. She graduated in May with high honors and is making plans to go to graduate school.

Kristen worked hard at Benedict. She was elected to student government, presided over the Phi Beta Lambda business club, and worked for the dean of the business school. She was named Benedict’s “Business Student of the Year” before she graduated, completing her degree on time in four years.

With college came success – “and less worries, as in being able to have a dorm room I could go to every night,” Kristen recalls. “Because in Chicago, I mostly lived house to house. I didn’t have a real home, a loving home, until I was adopted in my senior year of high school.”

Kristen at our June 2018 Scholarship Award Ceremony

Homeless more than six years, Kristen and her sister were left to drift among the homes of various relatives. Despite early difficulties in a household that included her mother’s abusive boyfriend, the family split up when Kristen was in fifth grade, after her mother went to prison for business fraud. Kristen and a sister were sent to live with their father; he struggles with addiction, so the three of them doubled-up with relatives, moving frequently.

“I changed schools four times until I finished eighth grade,” said Kristen. She says she kept up academically, but feeling some resentment as a young teen, she would mouth off to teachers.

“I was a jerk,” she admits. “But after freshman year, I started at After School Matters. There, people paid attention to you. Because I was working to earn money, I didn’t want to get fired, so I had to work on my attitude. If I was smart-alecky, I was corrected. They’d sit you down and ask why are you acting like this? I realized I was mad for lack of a mom.”

Kristen decided to focus on her future and doing well at her South Side high school. Life improved, including longer stays with the family of her father’s cousin, a single mom of three. One of the happiest moments of Kristen’s life was when she was asked to join their family permanently.

“She told me, ‘I’ve been thinking about it and we had a family meeting about it. You’re like a daughter to me and I love you.’ Her name is Tina and she’s a wonderful person. I also lived there in the summer during college and now that I’ve graduated.”

Kristen remembers feeling homesick her first weeks at college. But she made friends and got active in school, later hosting “vision board parties” for students to talk about their goals. She says she realized, “Nobody knew where I came from. All that stuff didn’t matter. I could be the person I wanted to grow into, that I wanted the world to see me as.”

Months since graduating, Kristen works in a Chicago school. She is also making plans to earn graduate degrees that would lead to a career in higher education.

“I want to be Dr. Lang. It rings a bell,” she says, smiling.

– Story by Anne Bowhay / Photo by Allison Williams

 

 

StreetLight Chicago: Book-a-Bed option expands as free mobile app for youth completes 2nd year

StreetLight Chicago, a free mobile app of resources for homeless youth, launched two years ago this week – 2,327 people have downloaded the app since then!

Check out the app’s expanded Book-a-Bed feature: Youth can reserve a bed at overnight youth shelters. Eight beds are available at The Crib on Chicago’s North Side and three beds at Ujima Village on the city’s South Side.

Over 700 people use the app or its desktop version every week.

Kudos to our app partner, The Young Invincibles, and to the VNA Foundation for its pivotal support.

StreetLight Chicago is a joint project of the Young Invincibles and the Youth Futures legal aid clinic at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, with generous support from the VNA Foundation.

StreetLight Chicago offers a database of resources for homeless and unaccompanied youth, ages 16 through 24. The app provides youth with a centralized list of drop-in centers, shelters, health clinics, food pantries and services, including Youth Futures. Occasional push notifications are issued when bad weather or program-change alerts are needed.

A desktop version – at www.streetlightchicago.org – was released in August 2017. It mirrors the app’s resource information, with printable lists and improved navigation for users seeking directions. The website expands access to StreetLight resources for youth without cellphones and makes it easier for service providers to work with youth clients.

Service providers should send any updates for the app to streetlightchicago@gmail.com

– Anne Bowhay, Media

Equal Justice Works fellow participates in trial advocacy training

Alyssa Phillips holds a two-year legal fellowship at CCH through Equal Justice Works, a prestigious national program. Alyssa’s fellowship is sponsored by Kirkland & Ellis LLP and AbbVie.

She was among 30 young attorneys participating in a training by the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA). The program was held at last week’s Equal Justice Works Leadership Development Conference in Washington, D.C.

We asked Alyssa to report on the conference.

National Institute for Trial Advocacy is the nation’s leading provider of legal advocacy skills training. NITA’s model is centered on the concept of learning by doing. The first day of the program the Equal Justice Works fellows selected learned strategies from practicing attorneys and judges about how to write and present opening and closing statements and engage in direct and cross examination within a trial context.

The following day fellows actually participated in a mock trial. Each fellow was assigned a partner and given a fictional case to litigate in front of a judge. The judges then provided feedback and suggestions on how to be more persuasive in a trial setting.

Through the training I learned how to write and present legal arguments in a more effective way. Through the NITA program I learned organizational strategies to more efficiently write legal arguments.

Alyssa Phillips at a Waukegan outreach session.

Having to actually stand up and present the arguments in front of a judge and other attorneys about an area of law with which I am unfamiliar taught me how to be a better orator. The strategies I learned will help me be a better advocate for my clients in and out of court. Hearing constructive criticism from experienced attorneys and judges was a great experience to have early in my career. I am very grateful for the experience.

Alyssa joined the CCH staff in September 2017, where her work includes legal outreach in the suburbs. She is a graduate of the Notre Dame Law School and Wheaton College.

CCH Executive Director named to governor-elect’s transition team committee

CCH Executive Director Doug Schenkelberg has been named to the Healthy Children and Families Committee, part of the transition team for Governor-elect JB Pritzker.

PRESS RELEASE

Today, Governor-elect JB Pritzker announced the formation and members of the Healthy Children and Families Committee of the transition team at Children’s Home and Aid, the first social service agency JB visited while considering his run for governor.

The committee is the third of several working groups of the transition made up of subject-matter experts who will advise and guide the incoming Pritzker-Stratton administration. The Healthy Children and Families Committee will be chaired by state Sen. Heather Steans, Howard Brown Health President and CEO David Munar, and Children’s Home and Aid President and CEO Nancy Ronquillo and consist of 36 members.

“Our transition’s Healthy Children and Families Committee will focus on how we should rebuild social services, identify ways we can help children and families build better lives, and expand health care in this state,” said Governor-elect JB Pritzker. “Over the last few years, state funding for community organizations was cut and families were no longer receiving the services they needed to thrive, but we’re going to reverse course. As governor, I’ll be their partner, and together, we’ll confront challenges head on so families and children can thrive.” Continue reading CCH Executive Director named to governor-elect’s transition team committee

Chicago Sun-Times, Opinion: If you’re selling a mansion, you should be taxed more to pay for affordable housing

By Daniel Kay Hertz and Marisa Novara

Daniel Kay Hertz is the Research Director at the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and Marisa Novara is Vice President of Metropolitan Planning Council.

Last week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel shot down several proposals for creating a graduated real estate transfer tax,  claiming it would treat “homeowners as an ATM machine.”

Here’s how such a tax would work and why the mayor got it wrong.

First, consider today’s reality: Chicago has a real estate transfer tax of $5.25 per $500 of property value. This tax is not graduated, meaning someone who buys or sells a home for $150,000 pays the same rate as someone who buys or sells a home for $1.5 million. The current tax generates $160 million annually, a third of which goes to the Chicago Transit Authority.

Next, consider the vision: In the Metropolitan Planning Council’s “roadmap to a more equitable future,” a document released last spring, the MPC and the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability recommend a graduated real estate transfer tax to generate desperately needed funds for affordable housing. Because the tax is pegged to property values, only the highest-value transactions would cost more. In most cases, the buyer and the seller would pay less than they do now.

What’s actually needed: Most Chicagoans may be surprised to learn just how little of the city’s budget is allocated for affordable housing. Take a guess: Ten percent? Five? One? Try just about three-tenths of one percent in 2017, or $24.5 million out of $8.3 billion.

Tax increment financing revenue — local funds that get spent outside the normal budget process — contributed another $16.9 million in 2017 toward affordable housing. But even that represented less than three percent of the $660 million raised by TIF districts.

Rather than spend its own money on affordable housing, Chicago has depended overwhelmingly on resources passed down by the state and federal governments through programs such as public housing and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. In 2017, Chicago spent 36 times more of its own money on policing than on affordable housing, and three times more on legal settlements.

While all cities are struggling with a decline in federal support for affordable housing, there’s more Chicago can and must do to support this need locally.

Finally, here’s what is possible: Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and other groups have proposed a plan to generate $150 million a year for affordable housing and services for some 80,000 homeless people. The plan calls for increasing the city’s real estate transfer tax on high-value property. An ordinance seeking to put this proposal on the Feb. 26 election ballot, as a referendum question, has been presented by Ald. Walter Burnett.

This is one of many versions of a proposed progressive real estate transfer tax that could get us over the finish line.

Chicago suffers from a shortfall of 120,000 affordable housing units. That alone is reason enough to consider a progressive real estate transfer tax, just as there is in San FranciscoBaltimore and New York City. Such a tax was approved in Evanston on Tuesday.

A graduated real estate transfer tax to cover some of Chicago’s most pressing affordable housing needs would not be breaking new ground. Chicago would simply be catching up — both to other cities and to our own profound shortfalls.

Read more about CCH’s Bring Chicago Home campaign!

CCH welcomes Development Manager Erin Sindewald

Erin Sindewald has joined our staff as Development Manager. We asked Erin to introduce herself.

Erin Sindewald

I am thrilled for the opportunity to work alongside CCH’s passionate staff, partners, and advocates to support housing as a human right.

Early in my career I worked as a case manager at a housing organization, tasked with helping homeless men, women, and families navigate complex and unjust systems. Through this experience, I witnessed countless institutional barriers that made securing and maintaining a safe and affordable place to live incredibly difficult, and often insurmountable.

We as a society must do better. Continue reading CCH welcomes Development Manager Erin Sindewald

Voting: How people experiencing homelessness can register to vote

Updated Nov. 5

By Niya Kelly, State Legislative Director

Illinois residents who are homeless have the right to vote in the state and national election on Tuesday, Nov. 6, even if they are not yet registered to vote. The 2018 election will decide many key offices, including governor, state legislators, and U.S. House members.

If you live on the street, in shelters, or doubled-up in the homes of others, you are considered homeless.

You can check online to see if you’re registered: https://ova.elections.il.gov/RegistrationLookup.aspx

Continue reading Voting: How people experiencing homelessness can register to vote