CCH staff to present at national conference on educating homeless children and youth

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless staff members will be presenters when the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) hosts its national conference in Chicago later this month.

Called “Together in the Heartland,” the conference will train hundreds of youth service providers, educators, and advocates to work more effectively with children and teens experiencing homelessness. The conference runs Sunday, Oct. 29 through Tuesday, Oct. 31 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

Associate Law Project Director Beth Malik will deliver the conference’s opening remarks on Sunday at 8:10 a.m. In her 10 years leading CCH’s Youth Futures mobile legal aid clinic, Ms. Malik has represented thousands of homeless Chicago  youth with civil legal needs, including access to schools and shelter.

The CCH-managed HomeWorks campaign will be explained in a Sunday session at 2:45 p.m. Panelists are Law Project Director Patricia Nix-Hodes, Associate Policy Director Mary Tarullo, Associate Organizing Director Hannah Willage, and Education Committee members Ashley Allen and Marilyn Escoe.
They will discuss how HomeWorks advocated almost two years for a stronger homeless education policy, adopted in 2016 by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
They will also explain HomeWorks’ advocacy to create a program that this school year will house 100 homeless families from six Chicago elementary schools. Called Housing Support for CPS Families in Transition, or FIT, it is the first city-funded Chicago housing program to include homeless families that live doubled-up with relatives or friends.
HomeWorks partners are the AIDS Foundation, Beacon Therapeutic, Catholic Charities, CSH, Facing Forward to End Homelessness, Heartland Alliance, Primo Center for Women and Children, and Unity Parenting and Counseling.
In a Tuesday session, (10:30 a.m.), CCH attorneys will discuss legal and legislative barriers that restrict homeless children’s access to healthcare, housing, education, legal identification, and public benefits. They’ll also talk about CCH advocacy to allow unaccompanied minors to consent to their own healthcare, and securing local and state legislation providing free birth records to homeless people in Cook County and in Illinois.
Panelists will be Beth Malik, Staff Attorney Diane O’Connell, and Youth Health Attorney Tanya Gassenheimer.
Information on the conference is available at


– Cydney Salvador, Media Intern

CCH welcomes organizing fellows from Hungary


From left, Alexandra Szarka and Fanni Aradi

This week, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) welcomed two Hungarian organizing fellows. Alexandra Szarka and Fanni Aradi will spend four weeks training with CCH organizers and community leaders.

Sponsored by the Great Lakes Consortium (GLC) for International Training and Development, the organizing exchange trades community organizers from the U.S. and Central Europe each year.

Through the program, Senior Community Organizer Rachel Ramirez offered trainings last month in Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. Senior Community Organizer  Jim Picchetti will travel to Hungary and Slovakia to offer trainings in February. CCH has sent organizers abroad for five trainings and hosted 11 interns through the GLC program.

Fanni has volunteered at “City is for All” for two years as an advocate for housing rights for and alongside homeless people. For the past year, Fanni has studied sociology at the University of Pecs.

She began her activism at age 15, participating in her town’s Occupy Movement, but has been an advocate from a young age because of her activist mother. Since then, Fanni’s activism has primarily been on anti-governmental demonstrations and protests. Over the years, Fanni has participated in volunteer training sessions on community development and organizing, as well as “green” activism.

Alexandra also has worked with City is for All for two years,  serving as a social worker for disadvantaged and minority groups. She is leading a project to increase a number of public restrooms in Budapest to aid homeless people, in addition to her work at a non-governmental organization (NGO), Kretakor Foundation.

Alexandra works at a second NGO, “Equal Opportunities in the Schoolbench,” to create afterschool programs for underprivileged students. Previously, she mentored children at a child welfare center in Budapest and volunteered at a juvenile center.

On Monday and Tuesday, CCH organizers helped train 18 Central European program participants. After training, participants departed for assignments with organizing groups in other U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, New Orleans, Boston, and Charleston.

For the program’s duration, Fanni and Alexandra will train with Jim through CCH’s Statewide Network.

– Cydney Salvador, Media Intern

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

An 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 as its HomeWorks campaign joined the city of Chicago in April to announce the city’s new school-based housing initiative. The program will offer permanent housing and support services to 100 homeless families attending six Chicago Public Schools (CPS) located in high-crime communities.

By November, 75 families were identified as qualifying for permanent housing through the program, known as Housing Support for CPS Families in Transition, or FIT.  Continue reading CCH releases findings on ‘doubled-up’ homeless families, city offers new housing resources to help 100 families

Free birth records for people experiencing homelessness, under new state law advocated by CCH

A new state law to provide free birth certificates for people experiencing homelessness is another example of “access to records” advocacy by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

A similar measure enacted by the Cook County Board covers homeless people as well as residents of domestic violence shelters and people released from incarceration within the previous 90 days. The county ordinance was effective upon adoption in April. The statewide measure will take effect January 1, 2018.

Access to one’s birth certificate is a key issue for many who are homeless, particularly unaccompanied youth living on their own.   Continue reading Free birth records for people experiencing homelessness, under new state law advocated by CCH

Rachel Ramirez writes on her organizing training in Central Europe

Returning from her travels this month in Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, Senior Community Organizer Rachel Ramirez shares her insights and experiences during an international exchange program for organizers. 

She writes:

Rachel Ramirez

In Hungary, community organizers face a populist political climate in which their motives are questioned by a government suspicious of foreign influence and funding, including and especially that of George Soros, a Hungarian-American billionaire and philanthropist. Even after winning several local issues related to bus transportation, one local organizer related that he was questioned by local community members about whether his organization was funded by Soros and other international donors. They had heard about such influence on the government-controlled media. With true organizer bravado and political sense, he reported to have responded, “Yes we receive international funding. Does the bus now stop in front of your house?” It did, thanks to his organizing efforts with the people of that community.  Continue reading Rachel Ramirez writes on her organizing training in Central Europe

Action Alert: Tell Gov. Rauner to oppose the latest ACA repeal bill

With the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill moving fast, we need your help to stop this new effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. If an Obamacare repeal bill passes with a simple majority in the U.S. Senate next week, it is expected to sail through the GOP-led U.S. House.

Millions would lose health insurance coverage under Graham-Cassidy, a bill many are calling the most harmful repeal measure yet. Homeless and low-income adults would immediately lose coverage in Medicaid expansion states, including Illinois. It would eliminate insurance subsidies paid to moderate-income workers who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. Over time, families and children could also lose coverage. Illinois is projected to lose $8 billion in federal Medicaid funding by 2026, $153 billion by 2036.  Continue reading Action Alert: Tell Gov. Rauner to oppose the latest ACA repeal bill

Senior Organizer Rachel Ramirez offers training in Central Europe

Rachel Ramirez offers organizer training in Hungary

Senior Community Organizer Rachel Ramirez traveled to Hungary, Romania and Slovakia this month, training and collaborating with service providers interested in learning more about community organizing.

The Great Lakes Consortium (GLC) for International Training and Development offers the organizing exchange between the U.S. and Central Europe.  Continue reading Senior Organizer Rachel Ramirez offers training in Central Europe

Lawsuit will continue that contends Uptown viaduct redesign discriminates against homeless people

Attorneys for homeless residents evicted from living in tents under the Wilson and Lawrence avenue viaducts will continue a lawsuit contesting the discriminatory redesign of Uptown viaducts, now undergoing reconstruction.

At a court hearing Monday, attorneys that include the CCH Law Project withdrew a request for a temporary restraining order, noting that the issue was moot because the hearing was set several hours after the city carried out the 7 a.m. eviction.

The lawsuit contends the re-design violates the Illinois Homeless Bill of Rights because it “discriminates against (viaduct residents) solely because they are homeless. The city’s current design plans were drawn with the purpose of intentionally preventing plaintiffs and other homeless individuals from returning to the viaducts after the repairs are complete.”  Continue reading Lawsuit will continue that contends Uptown viaduct redesign discriminates against homeless people

Monday press conference: City to evict Uptown viaduct residents with no alternative

WHEN: Monday, September 18, 7 a.m.

WHAT: Press conference convened by homeless encampment residents of the viaducts on Lake Shore Drive at Wilson and Lawrence avenues. Residents received a 30-day notice that they must vacate the premises by September 18 at 7 a.m. due to viaduct repairs.

Residents who will be displaced have been calling for a housing alternative as well as a re-design of the viaducts that does not discriminate against homeless people. The current re-design puts bike lanes on the sidewalks, which is less safe for pedestrians, bikes, and cars, and which is discriminatory toward homeless people. The city has met neither of these demands.

Residents will speak to the press about their campaign, the city’s lack of response, and their plans moving forward.

At 10:30 a.m. Monday, residents will be in Courtroom 2508 of the Daley Center regarding their complaint filed by CCH against the city of Chicago, pursuant to the Illinois Bill of Rights for the Homeless Act.

WHERE: Wilson Avenue and Lake Shore Drive

WHO: Homeless residents of the Wilson and Lawrence viaducts, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), and ONE Northside

For more information:

Mary Tarullo, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless:

Angelica Sanchez, ONE Northside: