Honoring allies who helped CCH secure victories in 2018

By Niya Kelly, State Legislative Director

Community leaders, legislative allies, coalition partners, funders, donors, and staff of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless came together Dec. 6 to celebrate CCH victories. The 5:30 p.m. event was hosted at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, in its 10th floor ceremonial courtroom.

CCH honored seven people, including legislators and allies, as well as Urban Labs, Polk Bros. Foundation, and the Steering Committee of CCH’s HomeWorks coalition.

Each year CCH presents the Les Brown for Excellence in Public Policy Work. We honored the UChicago Poverty Lab and Health Lab for their report: Ending Family Homelessness: Understanding the Scale and Needs of Families Experiencing Homelessness in Chicago. The report cross-matched data from the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the city’s homeless service system. The data showed the full scope of families living doubled-up in Chicago as well as demonstrating how doubled-up homelessness is a common pathway into staying in shelters. Their research has led to a much greater understanding and acceptance of this form of homelessness, not previously been recognized by the city.

Continue reading Honoring allies who helped CCH secure victories in 2018

Chicago becomes sixth Illinois city to repeal panhandling ordinances, following advocacy by CCH and the ACLU

Chicago City Council has repealed the city’s panhandling ordinance, after three prominent advocacy groups sent letters in August to 15 Illinois cities to warn that panhandling bans are unconstitutional.

Letters were sent by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, and National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty as part of a national campaign to reverse discriminatory and unconstitutional laws.

In addition to Chicago, letters were delivered August 28 to officials in Aurora, Carbondale, Champaign, Cicero, Danville, Decatur, East St. Louis, Elgin, Joliet, Moline, Oak Park, Peoria, Rockford and Urbana.

Chicago City Council quietly repealed its ordinance Nov. 14, notifying advocates two weeks later.

“Chicago’s panhandling ordinance was actively enforced, so this is an important victory for people in Chicago who panhandle as a means of a survival,” said Diane O’Connell, community lawyer at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. “We have spoken to hundreds of people experiencing homelessness who have been ticketed or arrested for violating this ordinance – locked up or charged fines they cannot pay for nothing more than exercising their First Amendment rights. The city was forced to recognize that everyone has the right to ask for help.”

The August letters notified targeted communities that since 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court demanded closer examination of laws that regulate speech based on its content (Reed v. Town of Gilbert), panhandling ordinances were repealed or struck down by the courts in more than 55 cities.

The response across Illinois is impressive. In addition to Chicago, Aurora, Oak Park, Peoria, Urbana and Decatur also acted to repeal their regressive panhandling ordinances. Elgin and East St. Louis said they no longer enforce a ban. Cicero and Champaign have said they are examining their ordinances.

Carbondale, Danville, Joliet, Moline and Rockford have not responded to the August letter.

“We are pleased that Chicago and the other communities have acted in response to our warning in August,” said Rebecca Glenberg, ACLU senior staff counsel. “Our Constitution does not permit a lower standard of protection for speech simply because the speaker is someone in need of assistance. We need the other communities to act with dispatch.”

“We hope that even Illinois communities that we did not send letters will take the opportunity to examine and repeal their panhandling ordinances.”

The letter to Chicago noted that the now-repealed ordinance served “no compelling state interest. Distaste for a certain type of speech, or a certain type of speaker, is not even a legitimate state interest, let alone a compelling one. Shielding unwilling listeners from messages disfavored by the state is likewise not a permissible state interest.”

Media coverage:

Daily Herald: Elgin plans to repeal panhandling ordinance, keep nuisance regulations

WAND-TV, Decatur: Chicago repeals prohibition on panhandling

Chicago Sun-Times: …’This is an important victory’

Law Project offers help before Dec. 14 application deadline to CPS magnet, charter and selective enrollment schools

Click here to see our Selective Enrollment flyer

Prior to a Friday, December 14 application deadline, the CCH Law Project will outreach to homeless students and parents interested in applying to the Chicago Public Schools’ magnet, charter, and selective enrollment schools.

Outreach sessions offering personal assistance and informational material include:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 4: Nicholson Technology Academy, 6006 S. Peoria St. (8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.)
  • Wednesday, Dec. 5: Charles W. Earle Elementary School, 2040 W. 62nd (8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.)
  • Wednesday, Dec. 12: Salvation Army Booth Lodge, 800 W. Lawrence Ave., (5 p.m. – 7 p.m.)
  • Friday, Dec. 14: Sarah’s Circle, 4838 N Sheridan Road (10 a.m. – 11 a.m.)

Continue reading Law Project offers help before Dec. 14 application deadline to CPS magnet, charter and selective enrollment schools

Kudos to Spreetail for donating and delivering 160 winter coats to people living on the streets of Chicago

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless has a deep gratitude to our new friends at Spreetail for its generous offer to fund and distribute 160 ultra-durable winter coats to people living on the streets of Chicago.

Chicago was the second stop on a 20 city tour for Spreetail, an e-commerce company with operations in six states and eight major cities.  Giving back is central to Spreetail’s culture: They will be distributing 2,000 EMPWR Coats throughout the U.S. during the next two months.

Continue reading Kudos to Spreetail for donating and delivering 160 winter coats to people living on the streets of Chicago

Homeless Memorial, Dec. 18: Remember their names – gathering to memorialize homeless Chicagoans who died in 2018

Tuesday, December 18 | 6:30 p.m.

Old St. Pat’s Catholic Church | 700 W. Adams

Raymond Ferguson, 55, died June 18. Homeless, he would sleep on the Blue Line, near the federal buildings downtown, and occasionally a friend’s home.

Most of Raymond’s days were spent at the corner of State and Randolph, where he became a beloved figure. After he died, people left flowers at a makeshift memorial.

“When you passed that corner, you were entering Raymond’s world… and the atmosphere of that world consisted of kindness, love, positivity and selflessness,” one man told Block Club Chicago.

Raymond Ferguson is among dozens of Chicagoans who died this year while coping with homelessness.

Harmony, Hope & Healing sings at the 2016 memorial service.


An interfaith candlelight vigil will be held in the sanctuary of Old St. Patrick’s Church.

The 750-seat church fills for this hour-long event, held since 2010 to remember homeless people who died in Chicago. Homeless people attending the service are hosted at a dinner prior to the event.


Based on most recent census data, 80,384 Chicagoans experienced homelessness in 2016, per an analysis by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Eighty percent lived doubled-up in the homes of others, often in overcrowded conditions. Our city’s homeless included 35,435 children and adults living in families.

Nationally, over the course of a year, 2.5 million  to 3.5 million people experience homelessness.


This service is affiliated with National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, one of many events organized by the National Coalition for the Homeless. Chicago’s service is supported by:

  • Ignatian Spirituality Project works to end homelessness by providing Ignatian retreats to men and women who are homeless and in recovery.
  • Chicago Coalition for the Homeless organizes and advocates to prevent and end homelessness, based on the belief that housing is a human right in a just society.
  • Harmony, Hope & Healing’s creative, therapeutic and educational music programs offer emotional and spiritual support to homeless and underserved women, men and children in the Chicago area.
  • Old St. Patrick’s Church extends hospitality to all that find the church on their path, and to serve the life and work of the laity in the world.
  • Franciscan Outreach provides comprehensive services to those who are homeless, including healthy meals, warm beds, and case management services to 8,000 individuals annually.

For more information from CCH, contact Director of Organizing Wayne Richard

Thanks to you, Giving Tuesday supporters more than doubled a $20,000 challenge-grant goal

With gratitude for your generous support on Giving Tuesday, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless more than doubled a $20,000 challenge-grant goal.

Kudos to 298 donors who generously gave $39,444! And thanks to 59 donors who gave an additional $5,657 in honor of Giving Tuesday before and after the official day, Nov. 27.

Our 357 donors included 163 (46%) who gave a first-time gift. Giving Tuesday donations totaling $45,100 are a 19% increase from last year.

Supporters were inspired by generous challenge grants from the Conant Family Foundation and an anonymous donor. Both offered to match all Giving Tuesday donations to CCH, dollar-for-dollar, up to our goal of $20,000 total. Continue reading Thanks to you, Giving Tuesday supporters more than doubled a $20,000 challenge-grant goal

Proud to partner with Furious Spoon

In honor of the season of giving, we are proud to announce our partnership with Furious Spoon — a Chicago-based Tokyo-style ramen shop.

Throughout November and December, the #GiveFuriously initiative offers an opportunity for our supporters and Furious Spoon fans and followers to give back to CCH in numerous ways.

Here’s how you can donate:

    • At all locations, guests who donate $1 or more to CCH will receive a coupon for a free topping on their next purchase.
    • Now through December 31, those who donate to CCH via Facebook or share the post by using #GiveFuriously will be entered to win a free noodle class.
    • For all noodle class bookings during November and December, 25% of proceeds will go to CCH when guests use the code #GiveFuriously.

Continue reading Proud to partner with Furious Spoon

Thursday afternoon deadline to sign up for our 2019 Chicago Marathon team

This Thursday, Nov. 29 – before 2 p.m. –is the deadline to sign up for our 2019 Chicago Marathon team.

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless is proud to return as an associate charity for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. With the race set for October 13, 2019,  we have already recruited a dozen runners for our next Team to End Homelessness, offering them guaranteed entries to the race.

Runners are required to set a $1,250 minimum fundraising goal, to be raised online in conjunction with their race training.

Continue reading Thursday afternoon deadline to sign up for our 2019 Chicago Marathon team

Please help us meet a dollar-for-dollar match, up to $20,000, on Giving Tuesday

Be a part of our #GivingTuesday effort this year!

We are grateful that this Giving Tuesday, November 27, all donations to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, up to $20,000 total.

This match is made possible by generous challenge grants from the Conant Family Foundation and an anonymous donor.

Now in its 7th year, Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving backed by the power of social media.

Your support with a tax-deductible gift of any size will help us reach critical fundraising goals – supporting vital work to prevent and end the homelessness that impacts thousands of Chicago area families, youth and adults. 

Supporters are also asked to share our #GivingTuesday message on social media, or join those who are helping us as “Giving Tuesday Ambassadors.”

Sign up by going to www.chicagohomeless.org/giving-tuesday and clicking the “Create my own fundraising page” link. You will be sent an email with a link to edit your goal, photo, and bio. Then you’re all set to share your link with friends and family on Giving Tuesday.

Please contact Claire Sloss at csloss@chicagohomeless.org with any questions.

Bring Chicago Home looks ahead to March 2020

Bring Chicago Home is looking ahead to a city referendum in March 2020, after efforts to slate it in February were thwarted by a few aldermanic opponents.

Two attempts to hold a Rules Committee meeting on Nov. 5 and Nov. 9 were thwarted by several aldermen who called for quorum, which stopped the meetings from moving forward – a rarely-used procedural maneuver in the Chicago City Council.

But Bring Chicago Home secured a quorum for the next Rules Committee meeting on Nov. 13. Our ordinance was successfully referred back to the Rules Committee, just as we wanted. Continue reading Bring Chicago Home looks ahead to March 2020