A new city housing program is helping 100 homeless families, including the Wards, secure homes of their own. The Families in Transition program was created after advocacy led by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless through our signature campaign, HomeWorks.
“It will be better – it will be our own place,” says Robin Ward. “We can raise our kids the way we want to raise our kids. We don’t have to worry about living doubled-up with different people.”
Many, many thanks for your generous support on Giving Tuesday, a global day of charitable giving held Nov. 28. This year, the Magnus Charitable Trust generously offered to match all donations made to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, dollar-for-dollar up to our goal of $10,000.
By day’s end we more than tripled that goal: 232 donors generously gave $34,668, including donations received through Facebook. An additional 22 donors gave $3,386 for Giving Tuesday in the hours before and after Nov. 28. One-third of our 254 donors gave a first-time gift to CCH. Continue reading Thank you for a successful Giving Tuesday!
CCH is proud to be an affiliate charity for the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 7, 2018. We are recruiting our next Team to End Homelessness, offering a limited number of guaranteed entries to the race.
The Chicago Marathon’s team sign-up deadline is Thursday, Nov. 30.
Runners will be required to set a $1,000 minimum fundraising goal, to be raised online in conjunction with their race training.
As was well-publicized over the past few weeks, the city of Chicago evicted a community of people experiencing homelessness under Lake Shore Drive viaducts on the North Side to make way for a construction project.
When the city set a date to evict the residents, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless filed a lawsuit on behalf of the people in the encampments. Does CCH believe that crumbling bridges should not be rebuilt or that bike lanes are a bad idea or that people should be living on the street? No. We believe everyone has the right to housing, and that it is our collective responsibility to ensure that everyone can access that right.
Our motion to halt the eviction and delay the construction was denied by the judge, and the city evicted the people and disbanded the community. So rather than the city putting resources into transitioning people into permanent housing, resources were put into a line of police standing behind a row of tents, ready to pull them down from their new spot because the city is clearly determined to keep homelessness from being visible in Uptown.
In light of this situation and the fact that there are over 82,000 people in Chicago that experience homelessness in some form in a year, I ask the question—what city do we want to be?
Are we a city that wants to pour resources and effort into hiding homelessness, designing our public spaces to keep people without access to permanent housing from being in the public eye? Do we want to shrug our shoulders at the size of the problem and say it’s just too much?
Or do we want to be a city that makes ending homelessness a priority, one that believes our community is stronger when we provide real housing and support to those who need it?
This is our city and this is our choice. We can and should dedicate the scale of funding needed to end homelessness. This vision is not to say the city has done nothing to address homelessness, but rather to acknowledge it is not enough.
What happened at the viaducts will happen again. There are other tent encampments, other city projects on the drawing board. This situation is not an anomaly. So, I ask again, what kind of city do we want to be?
The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless threatened Wednesday to file suit against the city over two planned Lake Shore Drive viaduct construction projects that will displace long-time Uptown homeless encampments.
In a letter to Corporation Counsel Edward Siskel, lawyers for the coalition accused the city of intentionally discriminating against homeless people in the design of the new underpasses at Lawrence and Wilson avenues.
The projects include installing bike lanes on the sidewalks where homeless people now pitch tents, effectively preventing anyone from returning there after the work is complete.
The coalition is demanding the city provide permanent housing for everyone currently living beneath the two viaducts and to re-design the planned work to avoid narrowing the sidewalk.
One of those who will be displaced is Carol Aldape, a 68-year-old grandmother who has lived under the viaducts since early May.
Aldape told me she lost her lease in a nearby Marine Drive apartment when the owner decided to sell.
She was unable to find another apartment in the area that would accept both her Section 8 housing voucher — and her two dogs, Bella and Chief.
Aldape decided it would be better to live on the street than to give up her pets, so she rode her electric scooter over to the Lawrence Avenue viaduct and asked to “see the manager” about the cost of renting a tent.
Informed there was no manager and that the tents were free, Aldape decided it was the “answer to my prayers,” which speaks more to her desperation than the modest accommodations.
“It was scary the first couple nights — and cold, too,” she told me Tuesday night sitting outside her tent, the dogs safely inside.
Yet Aldape seems genuinely grateful for this meager lifeline while she seeks another option.
Aldape said she suffers from multiple sclerosis, diabetes, heart trouble and a bad back. With her doctors nearby at Weiss Hospital, she is determined to stay close.
“I guess they expect me to get worse with the MS as time goes on. But that’s in God’s hands,” she shrugged.
It was the bad back that forced her to retire from work and go on Social Security disability.
Before that, she’d spent 20 years working in a nail salon. She also held jobs at Dominick’s, as a waitress and at an animal shelter.
Aldape was never married, but raised one son. She said she doesn’t know whether he knows she’s homeless, but doesn’t want to bother him.
“We’re sort of on the outs,” she said, then after a pause: “We’re on the outs. I do things my way. We really don’t talk. I’d rather he do his life. He came through me, not to me. I can take care of myself, basically.”
Aldape said she has no other remaining family, but has good friends in the neighborhood who “make sure I’m OK.”
She said she was homeless once previously, but back then, there was a women’s shelter in the neighborhood that has since closed. Shelters aren’t an option this time anyhow, with her dogs.
Aldape’s family moved here from Nebraska when she was 6 and lived above a Near North tavern that was torn down to make way for a Sandburg Village high-rise. In the years since, waves of gentrification have pushed her from Lincoln Park to Lakeview to Uptown.
“It’s all gone the same. It’s prime property, and I’m sure they want it for the prime people,” she said.
Eventually, city officials will step up to help Aldape, I believe.
What I worry about more is what happens to the next person in her situation who won’t even have the survival option of pitching a tent under the viaduct because the “prime people” want a bike lane.
In July, Veronica Cullinan-Burnison returned to CCH as our new AmeriCorps VISTA organizer. Taking over for Jayme Robinson, Veronica will manage our Speakers Bureau.
We asked Veronica to introduce herself with this essay:
I am no stranger to the issues that many of the people we work with face. I was born in Volusia County, Florida, but when I was very young, my mom and I moved back to her hometown of Chicago after my parents separated. With only one income supporting us, we struggled to make ends meet and find stable housing. My grandparents took me in, but faced many obstacles because they were not my legal guardians, even with simple tasks like enrolling me in school. Continue reading Welcome Veronica Cullinan-Burnison, our new AmeriCorps VISTA Organizer