Temperance spoke up to secure a new home for her family

e-newsletter-photo-donateRebuilding your life after a setback takes determination. For Temperance Thomas, it helps to be open about what she’s been through.

“You got to tell your story or you’ll never get over it. I’m learning to do that,” she says.

With a family to raise, Temperance is determined to move forward. In two years, she has completed culinary training, found a new job, and joined the Reentry Project at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

Continue reading Temperance spoke up to secure a new home for her family

Bridgeview Bank Group donates $15,000 through ‘Hearts for the Homeless’

Executive Director Doug Schenkelberg and Assistant Director of Development Claire Sloss (middle) accepting the check from Don Cortelyou (left) and Nicole Porrez (right) of Bridgeview Bank Group.
Executive Director Doug Schenkelberg and Assistant Director of Development Claire Sloss (middle) accept the check from Don Cortelyou (left) and Nicole Porrez (right) of Bridgeview Bank Group.

Bridgeview Bank Group presented the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless with a donation of $15,000 upon completion of its second “Hearts for the Homeless” program.

“We are grateful for the generous support of the Bridgeview Bank Group and the clients who participated in Hearts for the Homeless,” said Executive Director Doug Schenkelberg. “Together, you make a difference in the lives of people living in need.”  Continue reading Bridgeview Bank Group donates $15,000 through ‘Hearts for the Homeless’

Remembering Sean McKeough and Otis Clay

otis-clay-sean-mckeough
Otis Clay (top) and Sean McKeough (bottom)

We don’t do it alone. This week the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless remembers the lives of two men, important to the music community, who showed generosity toward homeless people and the work we do: Sean McKeough and Otis Clay. 

As a partner and producer of Riot Fest, Sean McKeough granted CCH a wonderful platform to spread our message and attract supporters each fall on the festival grounds. Sean also welcomed CCH to host events at his Cobra Lounge.   Continue reading Remembering Sean McKeough and Otis Clay

Riot Fest Drawing Winners

Below is a list of all the winners from our memorabilia drawing at Riot Fest 2016:

2 Tickets to Anthrax – Allison B.*

2 VIP Passes Riot Fest 2017 – Mike H.

Alice Cooper set list – Jessie O.

Andrew McMahon poster – Alex

Andrew W.K. poster – Robert D.*

Ben Folds poster – Michael H.

Blink 182 guitar – Robert B.*

Bullet Tooth album- Jeff P.*

Catfish & The Bottlemen album – Alex

Clutch poster – Jeff*

Corrosion of Conformity album – Jon R.*

Dandy Warhols album – Jon R.*

The Darkness poster – Gina

Deftones package – Laurie M.*

Descendents guitar – Dylan O.

Devil Wears Prada poster – Mike

Disco Demolition book – Lexie

Dropkick Murphys album – Pakledinaz

Everclear poster/package – Monet B.

Fall Out Boy album – Elizabeth S.*

Fat Wreck Chords package – Christine R.*

Fear Factory – Aces S.

Fitz & The Tantrums album – Karl

Flaming Lips alien – Rick

Fratellis album sleeve – Rachel D.

Fu Manchu album – Michael N*

Gary Numan poster – Brad H.

Gwar necklace – Bartt B.*

Gwar skatedeck – Taylor V.

Har Mar Superstar poster – Mike B.*

Hello Kitty Fest custom illustration – Dawn

Hippo Campus album – Jason M.

Jack’s Mannequin album – Travis

John Cusack signed photo – Joseph

Less Thank Jake album – Jon R.*

Los Lobos poster – Carlos

Me First & The Gimme Gimmes album – Chris D.

Naked Raygun guitar – Dem*

Night Riots package – Frank

NOFX package – Ted M.*

North Mississippi Allstars poster – Val

Patti Smith poster – Matt B.

Pepper Bears jersey – Pete O.*

Pixies album – Gia

Prophets of Rage guitar – Jeff

Refused album – Mike B.*

Reverend Horton Heat poster – Brian S.

Riot Fest Speaks 2016 poster – Marc

Rituals poster Rachel D.

Savages poster – Brad

Sleater Kinney album – Jachie

Slightly Stoopid package – Mike B.

Streetlight Manifesto poster – Nathan F.

Suicide Machines poster – Rafael

Superchunk poster – Greg B.

Taking Back Sunday albums – Matt G.

The Darkness poster – Gina

The Vandals album – Robert D.*

Thrice drumhead – Charlie

Todd Rundgren poster – James A.*

Violent Femmes poster – Gia

Violent SoHo t-shirt – Allison

Ween guitar – Nick M.

White Mystery package – Emerson

*Hundred Dollar Club member

DNAInfo: Chicago’s Homeless Population Has Dropped 13 Percent In A Year: City Report

By Tanveer Ali

The homeless encampment under the viaduct on Wilson Avenue. (DNAinfo/Josh McGhee)
The homeless encampment under the viaduct on Wilson Avenue. (DNAinfo/Josh McGhee)

Chicago’s homeless population has dropped by 13 percent since last year, according to a count conducted by the city.

According to the 2016 Homeless Point-in-Time count, 5,889 people were experiencing homelessness in January compared with 6,786 the year before.

The count found a 22 percent drop in veteran homelessness since last year. Chronic homelessness is down 68 percent and the number of minors living homeless without an adult is down 14 percent.

Earlier this year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel launched a task force to reduce homelessness.

“While we are encouraged that we have fewer residents impacted by homelessness this year, our work to address homelessness is not done until every Chicagoan has a place to call home,” Emanuel said in a statement Monday.

The decrease recorded in the count, conducted Jan. 26 when survey teams fanned across the city, may be attributed to multiple factors, said Julie Dworkin, director of policy for Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

In addition to implementing a more exact way of counting people on Blue and Red lines trains, an initiative to get veterans housed may have also helped.

The Ending Veterans Homelessness Initiative is an “all-hands-on-deck effort to identify every veteran in Chicago.”

“It’s about coming up with one consolidated list then going through that list systematically working to ge everybody housed,” Dworkin said.

While the count may have shown a drop with some homeless populations, Dworkin said the count is also flawed because its “narrow” definition of homelessness doesn’t include families who are “doubled-up” living with friends or families, instead of on the streets or in shelters.

The count also explored how the homeless population was concentrated in parts of the city.

Downtown community areas including Loop and Near North Side are near the top of the list of neighborhoods with the largest homeless populations. Uptown’s share of the homeless population has more than doubled and accounts for 9.4 percent of all homeless people in Chicago, according to the count.

WBEZ News: Chicago Homeless Count At Ten-year Low

By Odette Yousef

A homeless man bundles up in blankets on a January morning in downtown Chicago. Officials say seasonal changes may account for discrepencies between perceptions of how many homeless people live in Chicago, and the decline documented by this year's point-in-time count. (Kiichiro Sato/AP Photo)
A homeless man bundles up in blankets on a January morning in downtown Chicago. Officials say seasonal changes may account for discrepencies between perceptions of how many homeless people live in Chicago, and the decline documented by this year’s point-in-time count. (Kiichiro Sato/AP Photo)

Listen here. 

Chicago officials are touting numbers that indicate that homelessness in the city has hit its lowest point in more than a decade.

During the annual point-in-time count, conducted on the night of January 16th, 2016, hundreds of city workers and volunteers counted 5,889 homeless. That’s almost 900 fewer than last year.

A press release from the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel noted declines in homelessness among veterans and unaccompanied youth in particular, saying they showed “progress toward the city’s goal of addressing any and all instances of homelessness.”

“I was actually very surprised, given the folks that I work with day in and day out,” said Julie Youngquist, executive director of Streetwise, a workforce development agency and weekly magazine publication that aims to help people overcome homelessness. Youngquist said that working from her office in the city’s Uptown neighborhood, she doesn’t see homelessness on the decline.

“Just this summer a new encampment has literally popped up in a little grassy area across the street,” she said.

The city’s annual report rarely accounts for factors that may affect the numbers, but this year it acknowledged that “the visibility of homelessness in Chicago is on the rise.” It noted, “Results show that locations where unsheltered homeless persons are found have shifted over time.”

Seasonal changes may account for the discrepancy between perceptions and the count as well, said Youngquist. “In the colder months people can find options, or more compassionate friends and family to stay with,” she said, highlighting that the count was taken on a winter night. “And then in the summer months they’re just out.”

“I do think that that sort of congregate living situation is what’s making it seem more visible,” said Julie Dworkin, director of policy at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, referring to so-called “tent cities” that have emerged in several areas of the city. “They’re forming these communities that are longer-lasting and are growing, because people feel safe in numbers. I think also the fact that a lot of people started using tents in Uptown makes the problem more visible because it’s just a lot easier to see a big, bright tent.”

The count found the largest drop among the unsheltered homeless, meaning individuals in streets, vacant buildings, CTA cars, or other places not intended for sleeping. That count, of 1,243, was 40 percent below what it was last year. In part, this may have been because the number of homeless who sleep on the CTA was projected well above the actual number; this year, those people were counted more systematically. Another significant change was seen in the number of homeless veterans.

The number of unsheltered veterans fell by half, and the overall number of homeless veterans was 151 fewer than in 2015. The effort to house homeless veterans has been a priority of the Emanuel administration since 2014, when the mayor announced that Chicago would work with local and federal agencies to eliminate homelessness among veterans by the end of 2015. According to the latest count, the initiative succeeded in placing 2,339 veterans into permanent housing since 2015.

“I think this is an important takeaway because it shows that when you have real money on the table and real political will behind something, you really can have a significant impact,” said Dworkin, “and I think that’s what happened here.”

A similar effort to apply that model toward housing 75 chronically homeless people from Uptown has proceeded slower than planned.

“We’re feeling very pleased about the results,” said Nonie Brennan, CEO of All Chicago, referring overall to the results of the count. “We know we still have a lot of work to do, but we are focused on making sure that everybody in Chicago has a place to live.”

The count also showed a steep drop in the number of homeless who access certain public benefits, such as food stamps and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Brennan said individuals typically need help applying for those benefits, but many social service agencies have cut back due to the state’s ongoing fiscal crisis. “One of the things we do know is that an enormous number of case managers have been laid off in the past year,” said Brennan, “and it’s usually case managers who are working to get people connected to the appropriate benefits and services.”

A new feature of the count broke down homelessness by community area and ward. It found that the communities of Uptown and the Loop both contain the largest numbers of homeless, each having nearly 10 percent each of the whole count of homeless Chicagoans.

By ward, the 42nd, which includes downtown, the South Loop and River North neighborhoods, showed by far the highest homeless population, at 120 individuals. Behind that was the 32nd ward, with 69 homeless.

“I think it’s going to be really interesting to see what the response is to these ward-by-ward breakdowns,” said Dworkin, “and how aldermen are going to perceive this and think about allocation of resources based on what they’re seeing in their wards.”

CCH awards college scholarships to 20 students

On June 23, CCH awarded $2,500 renewable college scholarships to five new high school graduates who succeeded in school while coping with homelessness. We also presented $2,500 renewal awards to 15 upperclassmen. Thanks to the donors and foundations that fund these scholarships, 50 students received $235,000 through last school year.

Filmed by Russ Constable

Edited by Claire Sloss

Follow us on Instagram

CCH is proud to announce that we are now on Instagram!

We will be posting new photos of our staff and leaders out in the community as they attend rallies and protests, share their stories with legislators, speak to school and civic groups, and fight for the rights of homeless students.

See us in action, and learn more about our work. Follow us @chicagohomeless.

Below are some recent photos we posted on Instagram:

Continue reading Follow us on Instagram

Chicago Sun-Times, Mark Brown: CPS layoffs hit home — and homeless

Patricia Scott, laid off Friday from her job as a clerk at Prosser Career Academy after 23 years, earned a reputation as a passionate advocate for the school's many homeless students. | Mark Brown/Sun-Times
Patricia Scott, laid off Friday from her job as a clerk at Prosser Career Academy after 23 years, earned a reputation as a passionate advocate for the school’s many homeless students. | Mark Brown/Sun-Times

By Mark Brown, Chicago Sun-Times columnist

There were only two students identified as homeless at Prosser Career Academy in 1996 when the principal made Patricia Scott the school’s liaison to a new federal program for Students in Temporary Living Situations.

The number jumped to eight soon after that, and at its high point, ballooned all the way to 81 homeless kids.

At the end of this past school year, Prosser counted 68 homeless students among its 1,400 enrollees, 26 of whom were seniors.

“They all graduated,” Scott told me Wednesday. “I’m very proud of that.”

That group of 26 seniors will be the last class of homeless students Scott shepherds to their high school degree at Prosser.

On Friday, she was among 1,000 Chicago Public Schools employees to learn they were getting laid off.

Scott is not a teacher. She’s a clerk, one of 521 support staff included in the layoff tallies.

When we talk about CPS layoffs, we usually concern ourselves primarily with teachers. But Scott is a good example of why we shouldn’t overlook what’s lost when many of those support jobs are eliminated.

During her 20 years as the Northwest Side school’s homeless liaison, Scott earned a reputation as a fierce advocate for her students, not only helping them receive the free school supplies and bus passes to which they are entitled, but also going the extra mile by supplying the mothering that so many of them desperately need.

“You could see how she cared so deeply for her students and how they respected and trusted her,” said Hannah Willage, an organizer with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. “It is heartbreaking to know her students will not have her to return to and that she is one of 1,000 staff and teachers impacted by the layoffs. These layoffs hit homeless students hard.”

It was Willage who alerted me to Scott’s layoff, which I mention in case prospective employers get the idea she is the type to run to the press. She’s not.

But she did agree to speak with me. I arrived at her door the same moment as the mailman delivering the registered letter with official notification of her layoff.

“They say they’re putting me in a recall pool,” Scott said after taking a moment to read it. She didn’t sound very optimistic.

At age 57, Scott is concerned about finding another job, but not as concerned as she is about the homeless students under her care, many of whom stay in touch with her long after leaving school.

She knows the time and difficulty involved in building relationships with homeless students, many of whom don’t trust adults because of traumas suffered in their young lives.

“I don’t know where I’d be if it wasn’t for her,” said Liz Rodriguez, 27, who just completed a bachelor’s degree in information technology.

Rodriguez told me she was kicked out of the house at 13 and eventually came to live with an older sister, but was left homeless again when the sister moved out of town.

She credits Scott with guiding her through her senior year and giving her a “base” on which to build a life. The same goes for her husband, Jose, a U.S. Marine who was also in the Prosser homeless program, Rodriguez said.

Jasmine Edwards, 26, was put out of her home at 16, and says Scott not only raised money to help her pay the security deposit on an apartment but also gave her a vision of what she could accomplish with an education.

“She’s been like a mother. She never judges you,” said Edwards, who turned a part-time high school job into being a Wal-Mart store manager in Indiana.

If there are any principals in need of a strong candidate to take over their school’s homeless program, I know where to find one.