Homeless leaders go to Gov. Rauner’s Winnetka mansion, demand budget now


Advisory to our Monday, May 15 action – covered by WGN-TV and ABC7

Who: 85 homeless youth & shelter residents

What: Meet at Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Winnetka house to demand he govern and pass a budget now

Also planned: Brief press conference prior, door-knocking with neighbors to ask their support

Where: Gov. Rauner’s house – Winnetka

On May 15, homeless youth and shelter residents from Chicago, Aurora, Waukegan, and Zion held a press conference outside Gov. Bruce Rauner’s upscale Winnetka mansion – the home of a governor who self-funded an ad campaign that claims Illinois is held together by duct tape.

“Last month, Gov. Rauner aired ads knocking legislators for passing solutions that keep Illinois held together with duct tape,” said Stefano Medansky, a homeless leader from Waukegan, “Truth is, he’s forcing all of us to hold our crumbling communities together with duct tape because he won’t govern and pass a budget.”

Our message: If respected Republican governors Jim Edgar and Jim Thompson could govern and pass state budgets with Speaker Mike Madigan, why can’t Gov. Rauner get the job done for the people of Illinois?

Working with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, youth and shelter residents will present hundreds of signed postcards urging our “Duct Tape Governor” to stop holding up the budget process. Teams of youth and shelter residents will canvass the governor’s neighbors, asking them to sign a postcard or call the governor’s Springfield office to tell him to pass a state budget.

Illinois has not enacted a state budget for 23 months, jeopardizing vital social services, public universities and schools across the state. Ninety percent of homeless service providers have been forced to cut clients, services and staff. More than 1 million people have lost access to critical social services, per a study by the Responsible Budget Coalition.


CCH welcomes new associate director of policy, Mary Tarullo

May 11, 2017

CCH recently welcomed Mary Tarullo to the staff, serving as our new associate director of policy. 

Mary Tarullo

We asked Mary to introduce herself. 

I am thrilled to join CCH’s policy team to continue this renowned organization’s mission to end homelessness.

I got my start fighting for the human right to housing in 2004, as a caseworker for people living on the streets in Chicago. Working with people experiencing homelessness, learning about their stories and the obstacles they face, and being confronted with significant structural barriers as someone who was supposed to be able to house people in need — all motivated me to want to tackle the root causes of homelessness.

In 2005, after graduating from Grinnell College, I became a community organizer through the Americorps VISTA program in Boston, with the Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants. I organized Section 8 tenants to preserve their housing, which was at-risk and especially under pressure because of the real estate bubble of the pre-collapse 2000s.

I moved back home to Chicago (actually, I proudly hail from Berwyn) in 2007, when I started organizing with Lakeview Action Coalition (LAC).

While at LAC, I got to work on numerous campaigns to preserve and create affordable housing, including securing 57 units of affordable housing at the Children’s Memorial Hospital redevelopment site. It was the first affordable housing in Lincoln Park in 35 years. We won a $10 million fix to preserve at-risk HUD housing nationally, and organized numerous tenant associations to secure renewal of their Section 8 contracts.

In 2013 LAC merged with Organization of the North East, becoming ONE Northside. At ONE Northside, I staffed the Chicago for All Coalition, which led the effort to enact the city’s Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Preservation Ordinance. CCH was a key player in the coalition, and together, we passed the ordinance in November 2014. Since passage, the policy has preserved nearly 700 SRO units across seven buildings in gentrifying or gentrified communities.

I look forward to building on my 12+ years of experience by fighting for housing and running campaigns at CCH, focusing on citywide initiatives to guarantee the human right to housing for all.

CCH advocates three legislative measures to assist homeless and at-risk youth

Updated May 11, 2017

By Niya Kelly, Policy Specialist

Homeless youth face unique barriers to securing safe housing and services. Because of their age and circumstances, services are often limited.

The Homeless Youth Committee, Law Project, and public policy department at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless are collaborating with advocates statewide to introduce legislation that would provide homeless youth the opportunity to further their education, housing options, and access to counseling services.

We call this the Three Steps Home legislation.

State Rep. Letisa Wallace (D- Rockford) sponsors the three House bills. All three bills have been voted out of the House, and are awaiting May votes in the Senate.

Continue reading CCH advocates three legislative measures to assist homeless and at-risk youth

CCH, reentry coalition advocate to limit barriers triggered by background checks

Updated May 11, 2017

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) is advocating for two statewide reentry measures that would limit the barrier to jobs, housing and higher education that are triggered by a criminal background check. Both bills have passed the Illinois House and are under consideration in the Senate.

The CCH Reentry Project partners in the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois (RROCI), organized in 2015 by CCH, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Community Renewal Society, and Heartland Alliance. RROCI advocates for policies that remove barriers for ex-offenders in reentry, including lifetime employment bans.

This spring session, RROCI is advocating for two bills:

Prepping slips to talk to legislators for HB2373 (Photo by Rachel Ramirez)

House Bill 2373 would expand record-sealing eligibility for most felonies. Currently, only nine felonies are eligible for sealing three years after sentencing. The sealing exception would be convictions related to domestic violence, sex crimes, animal abuse, or driving under the influence.

HB 2373 would offer relief to people in reentry who face years of discrimination because of an old record.  State Rep. Camille Lilly and State Sen. Don Harmon (both D-Oak Park) sponsor the measure, which passed the House, 80-34, on April 27.

FACT SHEET for House Bill 2373

RROCI is working with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on a second measure: We’re advocating for legislation that would prohibit colleges and universities from asking about or considering a person’s criminal record to decide admissions.

House Bill 3142 would provide opportunities for ex-offenders to apply for and be admitted for higher education, without fear of facing discrimination and barriers. The bill is now being considered in the Senate, after passing out of the House, 65-49, on April 5. State Rep. Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) sponsors the measure.

FACT SHEET for House Bill 3142

During 2016, RROCI successfully advocated for four jobs bills that boost employment opportunities for returning citizens at schools, park districts, and healthcare facilities.

Continue reading CCH, reentry coalition advocate to limit barriers triggered by background checks

Thirty homeless youth helped at free legal aid and ID clinic

Thirty homeless Chicago youth needing legal aid or help obtaining their birth records received services April 26, during a two-hour clinic organized by the CCH Law Project.

The clinic was staffed by CCH’s Youth Futures mobile legal clinic and by 27 volunteers, including attorneys, from Chase Bank. Teen Living Programs, 5501 S. Indiana Avenue, hosted the event.

Attorneys helped youth, ages 13 through 24, apply for birth certificates. They also helped unaccompanied youth apply for public benefits, such as Medicaid and SNAP food benefits, and advised youth with other legal needs.

Continue reading Thirty homeless youth helped at free legal aid and ID clinic

CCH releases new findings on ‘doubled-up’ homeless families, city pledges new housing resources to help 100 families

A new analysis by Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) shows that 82% of homeless people in Chicago in 2015 sought shelter with relatives and friends, also known as being “doubled-up.”

CCH’s report was released April 20 as its HomeWorks campaign joined the city of Chicago in announcing the city’s new school-based housing initiative. The Housing Homeless Families program will offer permanent housing to 100 homeless families attending six Chicago Public Schools located in high-crime communities.

Continue reading CCH releases new findings on ‘doubled-up’ homeless families, city pledges new housing resources to help 100 families

Ed Shurna to be honored at April 30 event

Ed Shurna with a CCH scholarship winner, Kristen Lang, in 2014.

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless is proud to report that retired executive director Ed Shurna will be honored at an April Sunday brunch event benefitting the Harmony, Hope & Healing Choir.

The event will be Sunday, April 30, 12:30 p.m., at Galleria Marchetti, 825 W. Erie St., Chicago. Tickets to Heart Beat 2017 are available here.

Ed spent 45 years organizing in Chicago’s neighborhoods, including 20 years with CCH before retiring in 2015. He co-founded the Ignatian Spirituality Project and helped organize Chicago’s Homeless Memorial, held every December at Old St. Pat’s Church. The HHH choir performs at the annual memorial.

Continue reading Ed Shurna to be honored at April 30 event

Many thanks! You helped stop repeal of the Affordable Care Act

Many thanks to our supporters! You joined untold thousands of Americans who phoned, emailed, rallied and posted in strong opposition to the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican bill to repeal Pres. Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA). Unable to muster enough Republican votes, House Speaker Paul Ryan, after conferring with Pres. Trump, pulled the bill before an already-postponed vote was held Friday.

Among its draconian cutbacks, AHCA would have ended the Medicaid expansion that covers the working poor and older youth and adults experiencing homelessness, giving them life-saving access to medical care and mental health treatment.

Continue reading Many thanks! You helped stop repeal of the Affordable Care Act

Rachel Ramirez selected for Cultivate leadership program

Senior Organizer Rachel Ramirez was selected recently to participate in Cultivate, a yearlong mentorship program for women of color leaders.

Senior Organizer Rachel Ramirez (second from left) last year in Springfield with fellow staff, interns, and leaders from CCH’s Reentry Project.

Rachel, 27, organizes homeless Chicagoans through community reentry programs and shelters serving Spanish-speaking youth, families and adults. A Chicago Posse Foundation scholar who graduated from Pomona College, Rachel worked full-time while earning a master’s degree in public policy and administration last year from Northwestern University. She has worked at CCH for five years.

Fifteen women were selected this year to participate in Cultivate. The program is sponsored by Woods Fund Chicago, Chicago Community Trust, Chicago Foundation for Women, and Crossroads Fund.

Continue reading Rachel Ramirez selected for Cultivate leadership program

Eithne McMenamin leaves CCH to head up Chicago Cottages, a ‘tiny homes’ project

Eithne McMenamin              (Photo by Claire Sloss)

By Eithne McMenamin

Associate Director of Policy

As my time at CCH draws to a close, I’m feeling a mixture of emotions. I’m excited for my new venture as well as nervous as to what the future holds, and also a little sad that I’m leaving such a great organization. I’m as proud to be associated with this organization after 12 years as I was on my first day back in 2005.

I’m humbled to have been able to be a part of so many great campaigns: It Takes a Home to Raise a Child, the capital budget campaign, Sweet Home Chicago, and our current HomeWorks family homelessness campaign. As well, I’ve had the tremendous good fortune to have worked with countless amazing people both inside and outside of CCH. The people I’ve met and worked with are what have inspired and energized me every day of my time here.

Continue reading Eithne McMenamin leaves CCH to head up Chicago Cottages, a ‘tiny homes’ project