Jayme Robinson is 21 and a college graduate. That’s no small feat, considering that she became homeless her senior year of high school.
Earlier this year, Chicago Public Schools updated its policies so that homeless students are now entitled to enrollment without proof-of-residence or guardianship. It also gives these students access to tutoring services, uniforms, and fees waivers, among other things.
Robinson came to the StoryCorps booth at the Chicago Cultural Center with her mentor, Ashley Allen, who used to be homeless as well. They spoke about their experiences growing up, and how that translates into the work they do today, advocating on behalf of the 20,000 homeless students in Chicago Public Schools.
StoryCorps’ mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. These excerpts, edited by WBEZ, present some of our favorites from the current visit, as well as from previous trips.
We value our partners’ commitment, and invite all organizations who work alongside us in the fight against homelessness to renew their membership with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
Because of the ongoing state budget crisis, CCH has waived its $100 membership dues in 2016.
Please complete this form to join us as a member this year.
CCH does not receive government funding. That means when we push for government support, we are advocating for the providers across Illinois that help people who are homeless and at-risk. This year we have been advocating for a state budget that includes funding for programs that shelter, house and assist homeless people.
In addition to our advocacy work, our community organizers and youth attorneys run outreach at 35 shelters, transitional housing, school and drop-in programs each month. Our Statewide Network mobilizes providers and their clients in nine suburbs and downstate cities, including Aurora, Waukegan and Rockford. We mobilize strong coalitions on issues that affect homeless people, including our Reentry Project and our Youth Committee comprised of 36 providers from across Illinois.
To renew your Organizational Membership, complete this form. Members are acknowledged on the CCH website and promoted on Facebook (8,600+ followers) and Twitter (4,400+).
Questions? Contact Assistant Development Director Claire Sloss.
Homeless youth and program staff joined CCH outside some of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s nine luxury homes this morning, serving free coffee and urging his neighbors and passersby to voice their support for homeless youth funding.
The governor owns two condos at 340 on the Park, a posh high-rise at 340 E. Randolph Street, across from Maggie Daley Park.
Homeless youth and advocates gathered outside one of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s homes on Thursday, to call attention to the state budget impasse and its impact on programs for the homeless.
The group lined up backpacks outside 340 on the Park, a high-rise condo building across the street from Maggie Daley Park. Rauner owns a condo there, and organizers of the demonstration said the governor uses that condo only for storage.
“We are out here in front of one of Governor Rauner’s nine homes. He owns nine luxury homes, and yet there are thousands of homeless people around the state that have no homes, and the only places that they have to stay are in jeopardy,” said Julie Dworkin, policy director for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
The 25 backpacks they laid out on the sidewalk represent the 25,000 homeless children in Illinois. For homeless youth, backpacks often carry everything they own.
“We’re comparing the only storage they have to the storage in this luxury high-rise,” Dworkin said.
Kayla Evans said she was homeless for two years before getting into a shelter, and getting help.
“Our backpack is our sense of survival. I carried a pocketknife, just in case somebody tried to attack us,” she said.
Evans said she knows a homeless person who intentionally committed a crime just to go to jail, “because they knew they’d have housing and food.”
“I thought that was pretty said,” she said.
Advocates said programs that help the homeless in Illinois are in danger of having to shut down, because the state budget stalemate has left them without vital funding.
As the budget crisis ravages social services across the state, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless traveled to Springfield April 5 with more than 100 homeless youths, Niles Township high school students, and service providers.
The group protested both inside and outside the Executive Mansion to bring attention to their message: “Governor Rauner needs to support legislation that would immediately release funding to ensure homeless youth have a place to lay their heads at night.”
Homeless youth met with the governor himself in February. They recounted the circumstances that lead to their homelessness, how they connected with their service providers, and where they would be without this assistance. The governor listened, promising that he would consider supporting HB4955/SB2603, legislation that would immediately appropriate funding for homeless services in Illinois. Continue reading Youth and service providers protest inside the Executive Mansion