CCH says goodbye to Senior Organizer Rachel Ramirez

Rachel Ramirez, a senior organizer, is leaving CCH to pursue a Ph.D in management and organizations, and in sociology, at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She plans to research community organizing as a model of organizational leadership.

We asked Rachel to reflect on her six years of organizing people who experience homelessness.

“Let me say from experience, the women being held didn’t learn, gain, or accomplish ANYTHING!”

Glenda Sykes speaking before the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee in 2013.

These were one of my grassroots leader’s words, assessing what women in prostitution got out of their incarceration for what was then a felony sentence in Illinois. She said them as part of her testimony before the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee in 2013, with an emphatic tone that was deadly serious and painfully ironic, eyes glowing, voice steady, wearing a yellow CCH T-shirt. She also said them privately to me 20 or 30 times over the phone, in my office, in Dunkin Donuts, on the Amtrak train down to Springfield, as we worked together over many hours to hone her 3-minute testimony. Her words were key to passing SB1872, which “de-felonized” (her term) prostitution in Illinois. Continue reading CCH says goodbye to Senior Organizer Rachel Ramirez

Amended complaint alleges discrimination against homeless people in the Uptown neighborhood

City of Chicago endangering cyclists, violating Bill of Rights for the Homeless

New bike lakes under Lake Shore Drive solely to discriminate against homeless people in Uptown, attorneys allege

Today, an amended complaint was filed alleging discrimination against homeless people in the Uptown neighborhood by the city of Chicago.

Lawyers from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Uptown People’s Law Center, and Butler Rubin Saltarelli & Boyd LLP filed the complaint on behalf of the homeless residents of Uptown who took shelter under the viaducts before the construction. The encampment was destroyed by police in September to make way for bridge repair.

This week, the city of Chicago painted bike lanes on the sidewalk under the Lake Shore Drive overpasses on Wilson and Lawrence Avenues. Putting bike lanes on sidewalks is against the city of Chicago’s own policies and is known to be dangerous for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists. The lawyers allege the city is doing this specifically to prevent homeless people from taking shelter under the viaducts, which is discriminatory and in violation of the Illinois Bill of Rights for the Homeless.

Continue reading Amended complaint alleges discrimination against homeless people in the Uptown neighborhood

Youth Futures presented as a model at the Equal Justice Conference

CCH’s Youth Futures mobile legal aid clinic was presented as a model during the recent Equal Justice Conference in San Diego. The national conference is sponsored by the American Bar Association and the Public Service and National Legal Aid & Defense Association.

Law Project Director Patricia Nix-Hodes discussed the CCH legal clinic that represents more than 400 homeless and unaccompanied youths a year. She was among the presenters for a May 11 panel on “Using Behavioral and Social Sciences as a Next Step to Improving Legal Services.”

From left, Joseph Sullivan, Adam Murray, Patricia Nix-Hodes, and Sophie Bryan

Other panelists included Adam Murray, executive director of the Inner City Law Center in Los Angeles; Sophie Bryan, executive director of Philadelphia VIP; and Joseph Sullivan, counsel and director of pro bono programs at Pepper Hamilton LLP in Philadelphia. Continue reading Youth Futures presented as a model at the Equal Justice Conference

American Writers Museum hosts Horizons showcase

Director of Organizing Wayne Richard

Horizons welcomed an enthusiastic audience to its 2018 writers showcase. Held at the American Writers Museum, our May 22 event featured original poetry read by homeless shelter-resident authors, most of them mothers and their older children.

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless is grateful to our city’s newest museum for generous sponsorship of this year’s showcase. Opened last May, the American Writers Museum, 180 North Michigan, was voted Illinois’ best attraction in a USA Today Readers Choice poll and named one of the world’s 10 best new museums by Fodor’s.

“American writing happens in homeless shelters as surely as it does in any writing classroom,” said AWM President Carey Cranston. “AWM is proud to help celebrate the work of the writers in the Horizons program.” Continue reading American Writers Museum hosts Horizons showcase

European fellows train with community organizers at CCH

It was a homecoming of sorts for Ivana Novakova when she arrived in April for a four-week community organizing fellowship at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

From left, CCH’s Keith Freeman, Zsuzsa Berecz, Ivana Novakova, and a Breakthrough Urban Ministries’ Wendy Daniels

Ivana’s job was created last year, after the deputy director of the homeless services agency, Depaul Slovensko, completed the same fellowship at CCH. When Jozef Kákoš returned to Slovakia last spring, he created an organizer’s job and promoted Ivana to the post.

“When Jozef came back, we talked about how we need to do things to work in the community. He asked me if I wanted to be an organizer,” Ivana said. Continue reading European fellows train with community organizers at CCH

Executive Director Doug Schenkelberg named a 2019 fellow at Leadership Greater Chicago

Announcement published by Leadership Greater Chicago

40 civic-minded leaders from across sectors selected for region’s most prestigious civic leadership development program

Today, Leadership Greater Chicago (LGC) announced its 2019 Class of LGC Fellows. This select group of 40 accomplished and diverse individuals represents a cross-section of professionals from the corporate, nonprofit, government, and education sectors. They share the organization’s mission to effect transformative change in the community, and join a 35-year legacy of building and strengthening the pipeline of civic leaders who will lead the future of Chicago.

Over the course of the 10-month program, the 2019 LGC Fellows will be immersed in key socioeconomic issues facing our city and the region through full-day seminars, community site visits, discussion groups, conversations with subject matter experts, cultural events, and experiential learning opportunities. Continue reading Executive Director Doug Schenkelberg named a 2019 fellow at Leadership Greater Chicago

Updated Illinois Homeless Youth Handbook now available online

The Law Project has published an online update of the Illinois Homeless Youth Handbook, collaborating again with attorneys from Baker McKenzie and United Airlines.

First released in 2015, the new version of the Illinois handbook is accessed at www.homelessyouth.org

“The recent handbook update reflects changes to state and federal laws. The content has been enhanced to make a more comprehensive useful tool for homeless youth and professionals who work with them,” said Associate Law Project Director Beth Malik.

“We’re grateful to Baker McKenzie and United Airlines for their pro bono work and collaboration on this project.” Continue reading Updated Illinois Homeless Youth Handbook now available online

WGN-TV: Lawsuit filed in Medicaid applications processing delay

By Tonya Francisco

A lawsuit was filed Wednesday to help people who can’t get medical care because there is a delay in processing Medicaid applications.

Health care advocates and attorneys claim Illinois is not only behind in processing thousands of Medicaid applications, it’s also failing to issue temporary medical cards.

The Legal Council for Health Justice is one of several law offices that have filed a motion in federal court to force the state to abide by a 1979 consent decree that requires the state to determine eligibility for Medicaid within 45 days or offer temporary medical assistance to people while they wait.

Continue reading WGN-TV: Lawsuit filed in Medicaid applications processing delay

Press advisory: Thousands illegally denied health coverage in Illinois – state of Illinois sued for massive Medicaid delay

Released by the Legal Council for Health Justice

Attorneys on behalf of thousands of low-income people filed a motion in court on Wednesday to enforce federal law and the state of Illinois’ agreement to process Medicaid applications in a timely fashion. The attorneys charge that the state is violating both federal law and and Illinois court order by significantly delaying Medicaid applications and denying residents access to health coverage.

The motion, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, asks the court to enforce an existing consent decree that requires the state to determine eligibility for Medicaid within federal timelines,  and to offer temporary medical assistance to people whose application nonetheless pend beyong the federal time limits. The advocates allege the state is woefully behind in its processing and has not offered temporary medical assistance as a solution.

“I’ve represented a multitude of youth clients experiencing homelessness, many of whom have significant physical and mental healthcare needs, who are going without access to care for months,” said Tanya Gassenheimer, youth health attorney at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Gassenheimer, who helps youth experiencing homelessness apply for Medicaid and file appeals with DHS regarding any issues with those applications, filed a declaration in the motion. “My clients rely on programs like Medicaid for survival. These issues are simply inexcusable and it’s well past time for DHS to act.”

Under federal law, the state of Illinois is required to process most applications for Medicaid — the federal-state program that provides health coverage to roughly 3 million Illinoisans — within 45 days. Pursuant to the existing consent decree in Cohen v. Wright, if a determination has not been made in that period, the state must notify applicants that they are eligible for temporary coverage and promptly provide it if requested.

Yet as detailed in declarations filed by enrollment assisters and healthcare providers, the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) is months behind in processing applications and has also stopped sending notices offering temporary eligibility. As a result, tens of thousands of low-income people throughout Illinois are being denied medical care. Among the widespread suffering and hardship, pregnant women are giving birth without health coverage, people facing mental health crises are missing treatment, and children with serious medical conditions are forgoing crucial medication.

“The state of Illinois is clearly in violation of federal law and thousands of Illinoisans are suffering gravely because of it,” said Carrie Chapman, director of advocacy at Legal Council for Health Justice, one of the organizations that helped file the motion. “DHS must provide our clients with access to the care they need and are legally entitled to — we simply can’t wait any longer.”

Plaintiffs allege that delays in processing Medicaid applications have worsened in the last several months, and that eligible individuals are routinely waiting for three to six months to have their applications processed and approved. The lawsuit comes after lawyers representing the plaintiffs tried for months to resolve the issues without legal action, but were unable to compel DHS to comply.

The plaintiffs are also represented by attorneys from the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and Sidley Austin LLP.

“People with low income need healthcare coverage to stay healthy and pursue financial security,” said Stephanie Altman, senior director of policy and healthcare justice at the Shriver Center. “By restricting access to vital care, the state of Illinois is jeopardizing both the short- and long-term well-being of our clients.”

Read the motion filed here.

 

CCH’s 2016 count of homeless Chicagoans: 80,384

In 2016, 80,384 Chicagoans were homeless, according to an annual survey released by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH).

Eighty percent of homeless residents lived doubled-up in the homes of others due to hardship, often in overcrowded conditions. Twenty percent stayed in emergency shelters or lived on the street.

Population breakdowns include:

35,435 homeless people lived in 8,860 families with children

44,757 homeless individuals

11,067 unaccompanied homeless youth, ages 14 through 24

Continue reading CCH’s 2016 count of homeless Chicagoans: 80,384