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.

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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

CCH statement on Governor Rauner’s 2017 state budget address

February 15 – Illinois needs a budget that reflects who we are  – a state that wants to give everyone the opportunity to contribute to the greater good. Today Governor Bruce Rauner introduced a budget that fails to meet this standard.

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless is disappointed that the governor continues to prioritize non-budget items over the needs of families, while at the same time offering a budget that is close to $5 billion out of balance. While we, like the governor, desire to see growth in Illinois and create more jobs, we believe growth in our state will only come if we adequately invest in the people so they can achieve their full potential. Making that investment requires real, permanent, new revenue now that adequately funds homeless services as well as other critical human services, not reforms that hurt working families.

Continue reading CCH statement on Governor Rauner’s 2017 state budget address

CCH joins groups in opposing cutbacks to federal nutrition programs

CCH recently joined 126 other Illinois organizations on an open letter urging Illinois congressmen to protect federal nutrition programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs (NSLP).

A related letter, signed by 139 groups, was sent Feb. 13 to Gov. Bruce Rauner.

These nutrition programs reduce hunger and poverty, improve health and learning among children, boost productivity, and create jobs and economic growth. They provided critical assistance to 1 in 7 people, or 1,914,000 Illinoisans, in fiscal year 2016, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). They include children, seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and low- paid workers. In Illinois, about 65% of SNAP recipients are families with children and 41% are working families, per CBPP.

Continue reading CCH joins groups in opposing cutbacks to federal nutrition programs

Using the StreetLight Chicago phone app, La Casa Norte pilots “Book A Bed” at its South Side youth shelter

Homeless youth can now reserve a shelter bed using a new “Book a Bed” feature on StreetLight Chicago, a free mobile app for homeless youth co-developed by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

Through “Book a Bed,” La Casa Norte makes available four beds at its Back of the Yards shelter, 1736 W. 47th Street. Launched Feb. 6, the pilot allows youth who work evening hours or attend night classes to use StreetLight Chicago to reserve a bed when the 30-bed shelter opens at 9 p.m., said Casa Corazon Program Coordinator Shanavia Stevens.

“Many homeless youth work evening shifts and are not able to be present at the shelter when overnight beds are distributed. Book a Bed will give them the chance to reserve a bed for the night remotely, so they can focus on their job and not where they’re going to sleep that night,” said CCH youth health attorney Graham Bowman.

StreetLight Chicago is a joint project of Youth Futures, CCH’s mobile legal aid clinic for homeless youth, and The Young Invincibles, a project supported by the VNA Foundation.

Launched in mid-November, the free app is designed for use by unaccompanied, homeless youth and the service providers that support this vulnerable population, said Young Invincibles Midwest Director Erin Steva. It gives timely information on the resources available to help youth, through age 24, who are homeless and living on their own.

App listings include health care services, overnight shelters, drop-in centers, and legal aid programs that serve Chicago youth. These include the new drop-in center opened in mid-February by Covenant House Illinois. The app also sends occasional alerts, or push notifications, for weather emergencies, program closings, and other issues vital to youth on the street.

Many homeless youth use or share smartphones, relying on phones to connect them with services, jobs, or school, and their personal support network. Youth apps are in use in several U.S. cities, including the Twin Cities, Cincinnati, and Los Angeles.

Chicago is home to thousands of homeless youth, including 2,396 unaccompanied students who were living on their own and enrolled in Chicago Public Schools last year.

Service providers that want to offer updates for the app can email Content Manager Bridget Newsham at streetlightchicago@gmail.com

2017 Chicago Marathon Team to End Homelessness

Seven members of the 2017 Team to End Homelessness

CCH is proud to be an affiliate charity for the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 8. We have recruited 13 runners to our Team to End Homelessness this year, and are still recruiting runners who obtained entry through the drawing.

Each of our runners will raise at least $1,000 from friends and family online in conjunction with their race training. You can donate in honor of our team here.

Benefits of joining our Team to End Homelessness include:

  • Optional participation in the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) training program
  • Moisture-wicking team shirt
  • Race Day location near the start gate, with private bag check, bathrooms, and refreshments
  • Team building events, including a pre-race pasta party
  • Team email updates, tips, and advice during training months
  • Personal fundraising page and fundraising support from the CCH staff
  • The opportunity to support CCH’s mission to prevent and end homelessness

For more information about joining our team, please contact Claire Sloss at csloss@chicagohomeless.org or (773) 906-3409.

Justice Circle celebrates the Law Project’s 20 years

Twenty years of legal aid and advocacy by the Law Project at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless were celebrated at a Justice Circle event, held March 2 at Chez-Chicago.

Law Project founding director Rene Heybach was honored, along with the Kirkland & Ellis law firm for years of pro bono and grant support, and Marilyn Escoe, a parent leader on the CCH Education Committee.

Two attorneys were honored as well: Andrew Shapiro from Butler Rubin Saltarelli & Boyd LLP and Sharlita Davis from JPMorgan Chase Bank. Both have given extensive pro bono services and served on the CCH Board of Directors.

“We also thank Justice Circle donors and the foundations that have made our work possible over the years,” said Law Project Director Patricia Nix-Hodes.

In accepting his award, Mr. Shapiro noted that CCH’s legal and policy advocacy is needed in these “tumultuous times, where the impoverished are more vulnerable than ever.”

Since its launch in February 1997, the Law Project has provided legal aid to almost 5,000 homeless clients, many of them students and unaccompanied youth served by its mobile legal clinic, Youth Futures. Its advocacy has impacted public policy at the city, state and federal level, advancing the protections offered to homeless students, youth, families, and those who are living on the street.

The Law Project now staffs five attorneys, including Associate Director Beth Malik, Graham Bowman and Diane O’Connell. They are assisted by Intake Specialist Roberto Martinez, street outreach worker Ali Simmons, and Bridget Newsham, who edits StreetLight Chicago, a mobile app of resources for homeless youth.

The Law Project thanks its generous event sponsors:

* Signature sponsors DLA Piper, JPMorgan Chase Bank, and Butler Rubin Saltarelli & Boyd LLP.

* Lead sponsors Kirkland & Ellis and United Airlines.

* Advocate sponsors Latham & Watkins LLP; Foley & Lardner LLP; Funkhouser Vegosen Liebman & Dunn Ltd.; and Baker McKenzie.

*Additional Sponsors: Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym LTD; Taft Stettinmius & Hollister LLP; and JAMS, Inc.

– Anne Bowhay, Media; Jordan Scott Johnson, Video

Our thanks to the talented musicians who supported CCH at winter shows

CCH is no stranger to the power of music.  For more than 20 years we staged the annual benefit concert Hopefest, while our partnership with Riot Fest’s three-day music festival raised almost $150,000 in five years.

This winter, generous people staged new music fundraisers for CCH, raising a collective $7,869 in support our work:

·        Dave Specter of Evanston’s SPACE started off December with a moving tribute concert to the late Otis Clay, himself a generous past benefactor for the homeless.  A multitude of talented musicians recorded a gospel track, “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” which can be downloaded HERE.  All proceeds benefit CCH.

·        Another song, a holiday original, was posted by local duo Almond & Olive in an effort to spread cheer and do good.  “It’s Christmas” is the name of the track. And the money raised from every download is donated to CCH as well.

·        The friends and family of Tia and Leah Einarsen look forward to their Beats For Relief event every December and this year was no different. On Dec. 30, the Einarsen sisters staged their sixth fundraiser at the Elbo Room, with live music and a silent auction. All proceeds supported CCH’s work, and was the most successful to date.

Sass Dragons perform at Ian’s Party

·        Finally, the raucous and rowdy Ian’s Party showcased over 70 local bands at the Double Door, Chop Shop, and Subterranean during the first full weekend in January.  Many of the groups on the lineup contributed to a limited edition commemorative mix tape with proceeds benefiting CCH. Jim Miller, one of the principle event organizers, says that Ian’s Party has never been about turning a profit in the past, but when they decided to raise funds for CCH it was time to get serious.

These event organizers and musicians filled our ears and warmed our hearts while raising support for our work for and with Chicago’s homeless residents. We are grateful to each of them for sharing their art and time in service to our cause.

– Michael Nameche, Director of Development

CCH statement on Governor Rauner’s State of the State

January 25

We’re glad Governor Rauner recognizes that our failure to pass a budget for a year and a half has hurt the most vulnerable people in our state. Unfortunately, he failed to acknowledge an important fact – an adequate budget for this year and next requires new revenue now. Future growth does not fix our current crumbling infrastructure or attend to the needs of the thousands of Illinoisans experiencing homelessness.

We hope when Governor Rauner introduces his budget, he stops being silent on the real revenue needs of Illinois and includes new, immediate, sustainable revenue in his blueprint, so homeless families, youth and adults in Illinois have the opportunities they deserve to achieve their full potential.”

– Doug Schenkelberg, Executive Director, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

Big thanks to Zumiez and Blistex!

Organizer Keith Richards distributes gifts from Zumiez and Blister to some of the sheltered families with whom he works.

Homeless people with whom our staff offers outreach were greatly helped this winter by the annual generosity of two companies, Blistex and Zumiez.

Each year since 2005, outerwear retailer Zumiez has shipped more than 40 boxes of coats, hoodies and blankets for distribution by our staff in Chicago shelters.

Zumiez has given nearly 500 boxes of clothing for 12 years!

And for a fourth year, Blistex donated $1,000 and many boxes of it best products for coping with tough weather. Families, youth and adults living in 25 Chicago shelters, and some living on the street, received Glysomed foot balm and Blissful Butters lip balm.

“These functional gifts are welcome wherever CCH’s outreach takes us,” said Michael Nameche, director of development.