Only two weeks left to join our Team to End Homelessness!

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. We only have 9 spots left, and all must be filled before the November 30 registration deadline. Contact Claire Sloss at now to learn more.

Runners will be required to set a $1,000 minimum fundraising goal, to be raised online in conjunction with their race training.

Continue reading Only two weeks left to join our Team to End Homelessness!

CCH honor educators, political leaders at a 2017 victory celebration

By Mary Tarullo, Associate Director of Policy

Community leaders, board members, coalition partners, funders, donors, and staff of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless celebrated CCH victories tonight at a 2017 victory celebration at Chicago’s Grace Place.

CCH honored nine educators and political leaders crucial to making these accomplishments a reality. We also commended generous support from the Bridgeview Bank Group.

One victory was the expansion of public housing accessibility for returning citizens. With the John “Juancho” Donahue Award, we acknowledged the significant leadership role that Gene Jones, CEO of the Chicago Housing Authority, has played in advancing a housing pilot advocated by the CCH Reentry Project.

CCH also presented its Les Brown Award to Cook County Clerk David Orr, retiring in 2019 after a 40-year career of public service. This includes Mr. Orr’s advocacy to provide free birth records for homeless and other vulnerable people, available since April in Cook County and statewide this January.

Three Chicago Public Schools (CPS) principals – Douglas Maclin of Chicago Vocational Career Academy, Ramona Outlaw of Harlan Community Academy High School, and Anthony Rodriguez of Schurz High School – were honored for their support. They have been outstanding partners in CCH efforts to inform and organize students who live in doubled-up homeless situations.

We also honored Mayoral Deputy Policy Director Robin Ficke. CCH cited Ms. Ficke’s commitment to homeless families. This includes her work to create Housing Support for CPS Families in Transition (FIT) and for ensuring that doubled-up families are among the 100 homeless families that will be housed by FIT.

CCH led several state legislative campaigns this year. State Rep. Camille Lilly (D-Chicago) and State Sen. Jim Durkin (R-Westchester) carried our successful legislation to provide housing and employment access to more returning citizens by expanding criminal record-sealing eligibility.

In accepting her award, Rep. Lilly said, “It is an honor just to represent what people believe they need, and stand next to them as they advocate those needs… They come home, they have served their time, and it shouldn’t have to follow them the rest of their lives.”

We also honored State Rep. Litesa Wallace (D-Rockford). Rep. Wallace championed the College Hunger Bill, which would grant SNAP food benefits to low-income vocational-track community college students. The bill passed the General Assembly, but received an amendatory veto by Gov. Rauner. A followup bill passed the Senate but not the House before the fall veto session concluded. The SNAP bill will be reintroduced in 2018.

Finally, we gratefully recognized Bridgeview Bank Group for its “Hearts for the Homeless” program. The bank raised more than $36,000 for CCH in 2015 and 2016, with its third-year campaign just concluded.

Many thanks to this year’s honorees and congratulations to everyone involved in making progress toward our mission to end homelessness!

StreetLight Chicago marks its 1st year: 1,214 downloads and a new desktop version

Today marks the first year of StreetLight Chicago! This free mobile app for homeless youth 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. 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 via the app when weather or program advisories are needed.

StreetLight Chicago realized 1,214 downloads in its first year, with 150 visits a week.

A desktop version – at – was released in August. 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.

In the past year, the app expanded its food pantry listings and in February added a “Book a Bed” feature. This feature allows youth who work evening hours or attend night classes to reserve a bed at a La Casa Norte youth shelter, located at 1940 N. California Avenue.

As StreetLight Chicago continues to grow, users can expect to see expanded usability, more new features and consistent, reliable access to resource information.

Service providers should send any updates for the app to Content Manager Bridget Newsham at








Farewell to Associate Director of Organizing Hannah Willage

By Hannah Willage, Associate Director of Organizing

This week marks the end of my 10 years working for Chicago Coalition for the Homeless as I move on to work for Interfaith Youth Core.

I feel so grateful for the amazing people I have had the opportunity to work with during my time at CCH. The leaders and staff have had a great impact on me. Together we have been able to create change. We have learned together, grown together, and educated the community and people in power together.

My first project was to create the Speakers Bureau, working with 15 grassroots leaders who share their stories of homelessness and how they learned to advocate for policy solutions. I started by doing one-on-ones with more than 100 people to learn about homelessness and gather ideas for how to create the Speakers Bureau. A decade later, we have educated and connected with some 30,000 people. The power of the Speakers Bureau never ceases to inspire me. The leaders open up to the community and the audience is left enlightened and ready to fight for change with CCH.

My next project was to offer a way for Speakers Bureau audiences to advocate with us on issues such as jobs and funding for shelters, affordable housing, and youth services. The enthusiasm of the high school and college students I worked with has been energizing. It has been wonderful to teach people how to be civically engaged. Having the support of the greater community has increased our ability to win on important issues.

While facilitating speaking events in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), students began to open up about their own experiences with homelessness. I realized that by organizing in schools we could reach more youth and families who experience homelessness while living doubled-up in the homes of others: 88% of homeless CPS students are doubled-up, but previous to organizing in schools, we only organized in family shelters.

Four years ago, we formed an Education Committee of parents, grandparents, students, and educators. After addressing some local school issues, we launched a citywide campaign to secure a new policy guiding CPS treatment of homeless students. This was done in partnership with the CCH Law Project. After fighting for a year and a half we won a new policy, enacted in April 2016, that protects homeless students’ right to enroll and fully participate in school. The leaders fought hard and tirelessly, sharing their stories and expertise, including testifying at eight CPS Board meetings. They supported and mentored each other, providing us with the strength to win.

Most recently, I have been working with students experiencing homelessness at their high schools. I also organized parents of elementary school children, ensuring that doubled-up homeless families could secure assistance through a new CPS-based housing program, Families in Transition (FIT). They shared their stories, giving testimony to the fact that being doubled-up is “just as homeless” as living in a shelter or on the street. This helped CCH and the HomeWorks campaign advocate that doubled-up families be eligible for FIT, which offers permanent housing to the 100 most vulnerable homeless families from six CPS elementary schools.

Throughout my time Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, I have been able to bring together people from various faiths to advocate to prevent and end homelessness. I have seen how faith has called people to fight to protect others. In my new position as Alumni Relations Manager at Interfaith Youth Core, I will support young adults who are interfaith leaders bring together people from various religions in collaboration.

I will miss the wonderful CCH leaders with whom I have built relationships.  I will bring the countless lessons they have taught me about collaboration, faith, and leadership development into my new role.

‘4-Star City’ campaign calls attention to homelessness in Chicago

Launching Friday, a new integrated ad campaign seeks to create awareness and empathy for Chicagoans who cope with homelessness while living on the street.

Developed pro bono by marketing communications firm MARC USA, the integrated campaign plays on Chicago’s popular 4-star city flag. One of the best-known and most visible city flags in the country – found on businesses, front porches, T-shirts, and even tattoos – Chicago’s 4-star flag promotes the city’s capacity to offer a top quality of life.

The “4-Star City” campaign features 30- and 60-second videos running as broadcast and digital PSAs, with print and outdoor versions.

Kicking off at the start of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, the campaign contrasts Chicago neighborhoods that most people would rate “4 stars” with the “half-star rated” viaducts and street corners that serve as home for Chicagoans who live on the street.

Each piece notes Chicago’s reputation for hospitality and proclaims: “Let’s make Chicago a 4-star city for everyone.” The call to action urges support for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, which employs legal and public policy advocacy to prevent and end homelessness.

Matt Sullivan, SVP, Senior Creative Director at MARC USA, explains the inspiration for the campaign.

“You see the 4-star flag flying everywhere in the city. Everyone looks up at it with pride, but few look around to see that for those who are homeless, this really isn’t a ‘4-star’ city. We wanted to activate Chicagoans to think about homelessness and support efforts to make a difference… especially as we get closer to winter.”

CCH Executive Director Doug Schenkelberg adds, “We are so grateful for MARC USA’s work to put a face on homelessness in our city and create awareness of our efforts toward long-term change for the more than 80,000 homeless people here. “

About MARC USA  

MARC USA is a national full-service integrated marketing communications firm. With offices in Boston, Chicago, Miami and Pittsburgh, it is one of the largest privately-owned agencies in the country. Dedicated to work that makes a difference, other public service initiatives include Know No, which raises awareness of sexual consent; Girls Inc.; and DreamShip, which supports families of fallen and disabled service members.  Agency services include advertising, strategic planning, research/analytics, public relations, social marketing, media planning and buying, digital marketing, direct and marketing and business innovation consulting.

Niani fought for the education she deserves

Niani Scott anticipates heading back to school each fall. Admitted to a dual degree program, she now studies journalism and political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Her love of writing sparked during high school, when Niani won awards for writing “poetry focused on social injustice.”

And it was at high school that she was personally impacted by injustice.

The summer before starting at Plainfield East, Niani and her mother became homeless. A friend who lived nearby let them move in, doubling-up to avoid a shelter.

Niani learned the value of advocacy from her mother, and from CCH. As a writer, she uses words to fight social injustice.

Niani started high school. She earned honor-roll grades. She became a cheerleader, joined Student Council, competed in poetry slams. Meanwhile, a dean directed a school officer to investigate the family’s homelessness.

The officer talked to neighbors and surveilled the mother and daughter. Eventually, the school filed to disenroll Niani, alleging she claimed to be homeless so she could attend that school.

Niani’s recalls that her mom, Jamilah – “my number one advocate” – called the toll-free helpline to the Law Project at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. CCH offers legal aid to students because doubling-up out of financial necessity is recognized as homeless, under the federal McKinney-Vento Act regulating schools. To ensure stability, homeless students can enroll in the school where they are now living or remain in the school they originally attended.

The Law Project defended the family at a dispute resolution hearing that summer. Weeks later, on the day before she was to start sophomore year, the dean phoned to tell Niani, “Don’t come in tomorrow.” Her family lost the hearing.

“There was a very aggressive private investigation. The hearing process was contentious and long,” said Law Project Director Patricia Nix-Hodes. “By that point, the family felt very unwelcome.”

Niani recalled, “I’d done my summer homework for Advanced Placement U.S. History and then to be told I can’t come back?”

Discouraged by the hostility, the Scotts decided not to appeal. After two weeks, she and her mom found a new school with assistance from her attorneys, including a private law firm CCH secured to co-counsel the case, Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, P.C. Burke Warren generously helped cover Niani’s tuition at the private Chicago school.

It was a long drive to and from school, but Niani continued to do well. She also played on the softball team. Better yet, she and her mom moved into their own home.

Niani learned of scholarships to attend a foreign exchange program. She won a corporate scholarship that covered her junior year abroad, and the South African school – British International College –  offered a second award to stay through senior year. She became editor-in-chief of her Johannesburg school’s newspaper.

After graduating, Niani returned home. She spent a gap year working at Burke Warren to save for college. She won several scholarships, including one of the renewable $2,500 awards presented this summer by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

Niani continues to excel in school. Recently named a prestigious Roger Ebert Fellow, she also writes for the Daily Illini. “I love it. I literally love it,” Niani said.

And what would she tell a homeless student pressured to leave a school?

“Although times are hard,” said Niani, “with resources like the Coalition for the Homeless, you’ll always have somebody.”

– Anne Bowhay, story & Jeff Foy, photography






Slip in support of the College Hunger bill

Nov. 9 Update:

Thanks to the more than 100 people who, on short notice, slipped in support of the College Hunger bill advocated by CCH, Heartland Alliance, and the Shriver Center.

SB351 passed out of the Illinois House Human Services Committee by a 10-0 vote on Nov. 8. We’re disappointed to report that despite strong and vocal and bi-partisan support, including Gov. Rauner, the bill did not progress through the legislative process before the 2-week veto session concluded.

We are confident that the College Hunger bill will progress in the 2018 legislative session. Your support makes a difference!


By Niya Kelly, State Legislative Director

Please take two minutes to show support for the College Hunger bill (Senate Bill 351) before it is called by the House Human Services Committee for a hearing Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m.

SB351 would provide assistance to vocational-track students who, but for their enrollment in community college, would be eligible for food assistance in the form of SNAP benefits. Up to 40,000 students would be helped.

This bill ensures that students won’t have to make the choice between buying food and continuing their education.

Legislators check to see how many people slip in support of a bill, so please slip in support by clicking THE LINK below.

Instructions for filing a slip:

* If you do not represent or work for an organization, then type “Self”
* If you don’t have title, type “None” in that field
Fill this out if you are representing a group, organization or business (make sure that you have their permission before filling this out). Otherwise, type “None.”
Click on Record of Appearance Only

The Illinois Senate passed SB351 on October 25 by a 54-1 vote.
Advocating with CCH for the College Hunger bill are the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and Heartland Alliance.

Homeless and housing cutbacks contested during state budget hearing

By Niya Kelly, State Legislative Director

Despite the General Assembly ending a record-setting two-year state budget impasse, Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed mid-year cutbacks to vital human services, including homeless and housing service funding.

The governor has authority to effect FY18 cutbacks in Illinois without further legislative approval.

Homeless and housing line items are funded through several streams, including the General Revenue Fund and funds dedicated to homeless and housing services. The governor proposed a 5% cut across the board to General Revenue. If enacted by the governor, the proposed cutbacks would impact FY18 state contracts already signed with providers.

Proposed cutbacks include:

  • $227,000 to Homeless Youth, a 4% cutback to to a $5.5 million budget
  • $51,000 to Homeless Prevention, cutting 1% from a $4.9 million budget
  • $671,000 to Supportive and Transitional Housing, cutting 2% from total funding of $30 million

To put a face to the proposed cuts, the House Human Services – Appropriations Committee met Nov. 1 to hear from service providers and people receiving services.

Imploring Rauner to reconsider mid-year cuts, Connections for the Homeless was among those that testified. The Evanston provider is active in the State Network at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

“Any cut of any size impacts those most in need,” said Sue Loellbach, Connections’ Manager of Advocacy. “Our organization has cut everywhere we can throughout the budget impasse.”

Connections for the Homeless provides a variety of services, including homeless prevention grants to households threatened with eviction and foreclosure. It is easier and cost-effective to help a family stay housed rather than attempting to rehouse them once they’ve become homeless.

A family that becomes homeless needs emergency shelter and supportive services. The family, especially the children, experiences the trauma of losing their home. Securing new housing later becomes more difficult with an eviction or foreclosure on a family’s credit history.

Homeless and housing services suffered greatly when the budget impasse dragged on. Service providers and their clients not only deserve their funding but also the stability of knowing that what they were promised in their signed contracts is the funding they will receive.

Governor signs two measures to assist homeless and at-risk youth, CCH advocates new bill for food benefits

Two of three CCH bills to assist homeless youth — a legislative package called Three Steps Home — have been signed into law. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed two bills, Housing for Homeless Minors (HB3212) and Increasing Access to Counseling Services (HB3709), in August. Both take effect January 1, 2018.

The governor issued an amendatory veto of a third bill, Food Insecurity on College Campuses (HB3211), though he said he supported the key provision to allow SNAP for low-income vocational students at community colleges. CCH and allies are advocating this key provision in a new bill, Senate Bill 351, during the November veto session.
Continue reading Governor signs two measures to assist homeless and at-risk youth, CCH advocates new bill for food benefits

Join us Saturday at the Associate Board’s Halloween fundraiser

Why didn’t the skeleton go to the party?

Because he had no body to go with!

For the ninth year, the Associate Board of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless is hosting a Halloween costume fundraiser.  All are welcome to join in the festivities!

Saturday, October 28

At aliveOne – 2683 N. Halsted St., Chicago

7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

All tax-deductible tips collected at the event by the Associate Board’s seven guest bartenders will go to support the work of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

There is no cover to attend the event and prizes for the best costumes will be awarded.

If you can’t attend but you would like to support their efforts, each bartender has a virtual tip jar which can be found HERE.

Kudos to our bartenders Zibi Bednarz, Derrick Lloyd, Brandon Petesch, former CCH intern Gisele Romero, and Associate Board members Morganne Howell, Adele Lahl, Erik Mothersbaugh and Sam Phelps.

Every little bit helps: To date, 70 online donors have helped the Associate Board to raise more than $3,000 to support the work of CCH.

– Michael Nameche, Director of Development