Settlement in first substantive case filed under Illinois’ Bill of Rights for the Homeless

By Diane O’Connell, Staff Attorney

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless filed suit Tuesday against the city of Chicago on behalf of Robert Henderson in what is believed to be a first test of the state’s Homeless Bill of Rights. | Photo by Mark Brown/Sun-Times

The Law Project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless has secured a significant settlement on behalf of our client, Robert Henderson, in the first substantive case filed under the Illinois Bill of Rights for the Homeless Act. It was a proud moment for us, and a victory for the rights of people who experience homelessness in Chicago.

Illinois was the second state in the U.S. to adopt a Homeless Bill of Rights, enacted in 2013 after advocacy by CCH. A legal intern at the time, I remember the day that Gov. Pat Quinn came to CCH’s office to sign the act into law.  Continue reading Settlement in first substantive case filed under Illinois’ Bill of Rights for the Homeless

CCH statement: Gov. Rauner’s new budget plan fails on multiple levels

Feb. 14 – Governor Rauner’s proposed budget fails on multiple levels. Proposing $400 million in reduction to human services including reductions to supportive housing, mental health and substance use treatment, only serves to further weaken the infrastructure that Illinois needs so its residents can meet their full potential. In addition, his proposed $228 million cut to the Chicago Public Schools will undermine supports needed to serve the over 18,000 students experiencing homelessness in Chicago’s schools.

People experiencing homelessness are left out of the governor’s vision for Illinois. His approach to human service is one that sidelines thousands of Illinoisans that have and want to continue contributing to making our state stronger. You cannot grow Illinois without contributing to the well-being of people experiencing homelessness and ensuring there is adequate funding in the budget to not only maintain current funding, but grow it to meet need.

When the governor speaks of reform, he fails to talk about tax reform. Reducing the state’s revenue through an income tax reduction is a step backwards. We encourage the governor and members of the legislature to support a fair tax that will both remove the regressive tax structure we have in place and increase Illinois’ revenue to invest in the people of Illinois. Chicago Coalition for the Homeless will fight for these investments through the implementation of a fair tax and against the proposed regressive cuts that only serve to hurt Illinoisans.


CCH statement on Gov. Rauner’s State of the State speech

Jan. 31 – Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) applauds Governor Rauner’s new found optimism about Illinois’ future, but we heard no acknowledgement of his failure to adequately support people who have been pushed to the side.

His speech showed every indication he will continue to exclude people facing hardship from accessing opportunity. History has shown us that when elected officials talk about “reduced spending,” those cuts hit the human services infrastructure first, including programs that prevent and end homelessness for Illinoisans.

CCH’s vision for Illinois is different from Governor Rauner’s. We envision a state that pays its bills on time, adequately funds the work that serves people experiencing homelessness, and takes on the goal of ending homelessness with the same fervor that we have pursued Amazon’s headquarters. It is our hope that his February budget address and accompanying budget embraces this alternative vision.

– Doug Schenkelberg, Executive Director


Bridgeview Bank Group donates $16,250 through ‘Hearts for the Homeless’

Associate Director of Development Claire Sloss (middle) accepting the check from Andrew Trippi (left) and Nicole Porrez (right) of Bridgeview Bank Group.

Bridgeview Bank Group presented the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless with a donation of $16,250 upon completion of its third “Hearts for the Homeless” program.

“We are grateful for the generous support of the Bridgeview Bank Group and the clients who participated in Hearts for the Homeless,” said Executive Director Doug Schenkelberg. “Together, you make a difference in the lives of people living in need.”  Continue reading Bridgeview Bank Group donates $16,250 through ‘Hearts for the Homeless’

CCH opposes Englewood high school closures, citing impact on homeless, low-income and black students

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) opposes the proposed closure of all four neighborhood high schools in Englewood due to the disproportionate impact this would have on homeless, low-income and black students.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) recently cited low enrollment when it proposed to close four Englewood high schools where the number of homeless students is four times the citywide average. Continue reading CCH opposes Englewood high school closures, citing impact on homeless, low-income and black students

Beginning Jan. 1, more community college students in Illinois are eligible for the SNAP food program

Updated February 13, 2018

A new public policy win will help an estimated 40,000 community college students in Illinois: In 2018, low-income, vocational-track students are eligible to apply for the SNAP food assistance program.

New rules issued by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) will allow these students to apply whether full- or part-time students. Previously, only part-time students could qualify for SNAP, also known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.

In early February, an IDHS spokeswoman said that students can apply for SNAP after IDHS completes rule-making procedures. Announcements will be made when this new eligibility opens.

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless has advocated this eligibility for more than five years through its homeless youth campaign, No Youth Alone.

“This is an exciting victory for students,” said State Legislative Director Niya Kelly. “CCH has been in talks with IDHS for years, working to change this antiquated policy.  Homeless students consistently listed this as one of their top barriers in finishing up their education.”

CCH has asked IDHS to implement a rule change like the one enacted since Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration. When that was unsuccessful, CCH worked with Heartland Alliance and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law to propose 2017 legislation later called the “College Hunger Bill.”

It was part of CCH’s successful legislative package, “Three Steps Home.”

As HB3211, the SNAP bill enjoyed strong, bi-partisan support, passing the Illinois House, 85-25, in March 2017 and the Senate, 50-1, in May 2017. But Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an amendatory veto on August 18, saying the Illinois Student Assistance Commission should not be required to assist with implementation.

So advocates worked with the legislative sponsors to introduce a new bill – Senate Bill 351 – during the fall 2017 veto session. The College Hunger Bill passed the Illinois Senate by a 54-1 vote on Oct. 25. But the measure failed to progress through the House before the veto session ended.

Later in November, IDHS announced it was adopting a rule change to allow these students to apply for SNAP.

Working with Heartland and the Shriver Center, CCH will continue to advocate for legislation (SB351) in 2018 that ensures students retain access to SNAP even if IDHS were to change its rules again.

For their strong leadership, CCH offers thanks to the bills’ legislative sponsors, Rep. Litesa Wallace (D-Rockford) and Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield), and to IDHS Secretary James Dimas.

Key staff advocating on this issue are Policy’s Niya Kelly, who leads current efforts for CCH, and earlier advocacy by Policy Director Julie Dworkin and Associate Law Project Director Beth Malik.

The new SNAP policy is still in the rule-making process. Students with questions may contact their local IDHS office. When implementation begins, CCH will provide an update.

Forty-eight percent of college students report experiencing food insecurity and 22% report having to skip meals, per a recent national survey. Increased hunger on college campuses is blamed on the rising cost of higher education, scarce financial aid, and the rapidly changing face of the traditional college student. Hunger is a pressing issue in Illinois, especially among students at community colleges.

Students in vocational-track community college courses include: Agriculture; Business and office; Marketing and distribution (information management and product/service management); Health (CNA, LPN and RN programs); Home economic sciences (food preparation and culinary studies); Technical education (computers and data processing, engineering and science technologies, and communication technologies); and Trade (automotive or HVAC courses).

– Anne Bowhay, Media

#OneChipChallenge Twitter campaign raises $2,500+

By Christy Savellano, Development Associate

Kudos to Jordan Uhl! The Washington, D.C. journalist mobilized 80 donors via Twitter, promising to do the #OneChipChallenge if they raised $2,000 for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

Jordan Uhl

In six days, the campaign raised $2,585. It culminated with Jordan eating “the world’s hottest chip,” Paqui’s Carolina Reaper Madness, in a live Twitter stream on Wednesday evening.

With more than 82,000 followers on Twitter, Jordan is an editor at AmpliFire News and a co-host of Think Twice Podcast. He created a CrowdRise fundraising page to raise money for CCH and encouraged his social media followers to donate. They liked and shared his tweets to spread the word, gaining donor attention and nearly 100 new Twitter followers for CCH.

In one of a series of tweets encouraging people to donate, Jordan said, “…@ChiHomeless is doing lifesaving work to make their lives better. Start 2018 off right by making a donation to help their cause!” That tweet alone received 298 retweets and 529 likes.

While live streaming his #OneChipChallenge to over 9,000 viewers, Jordan explained his inspiration to fundraise for CCH.

“They do lifesaving work in Chicago, with how windy it is, how cold it gets there, I think about the homeless population, this is a lifesaving organization,” said Jordan.

To view Jordan’s #OneChipChallenge click on the link below:

Jordan tweeting he achieved his fundraising goal

To preserve its independent voice, CCH does not accept government funding. Many thanks to Jordan for this one-of-a-kind fundraiser and to all the people who donated to help Chicago’s homeless community. Your collective generosity advances our mission to prevent and end homelessness.

Where to turn for help in frigid weather

Chicagoans should call “311” if they need weather-related help in frigid winter weather, including access to homeless shelters or city warming centers.streetlight-chicago-image

Garfield warming center at 10 South Kedzie Avenue is open 24/7. Six other neighborhood warming centers, listed here, are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays whenever temperatures go below 32 degrees.

In the suburbs, people can contact police non-emergency numbers to ask about warming centers, many of which are housed in police station lobbies and libraries. To find a warming center statewide, see

StreetLight Chicago, a free mobile app for homeless youth, provides alerts and lists resources such as shelter and drop-in centers that serve unaccompanied youth through age 24. The free app can be downloaded from iTunes or Google Play. Continue reading Where to turn for help in frigid weather

Thanks to Zumiez, 300+ homeless people have new coats for winter

New coats were a hit at these boys’ South Side shelter. (Photo by Keith Freeman)

Thanks to outerwear retailer Zumiez, homeless families are ready for winter this holiday season.

Every year since 2005, Zumiez has shipped more than 40 boxes of coats, hoodies, blankets, gloves and hats.

That’s 550 boxes of clothing in 13 years!

This year Zumiez sent us 42 boxes – 200 coats for men, women and children, 96 blankets, 96 adult hoodies, 120 hats, and 40 pairs of gloves.

Community organizers distribute the clothing at some of the 40+ shelters where they run outreach.

“It’s a generous donation that really helps people in need,” said Associate Director of Organizing Wayne Richard, who managed this year’s distribution.

– Anne Bowhay, Media



The Ward family is getting a home of their own!

A new city housing program is helping 100 homeless families, including the Wards, secure homes of their own. The Families in Transition program was created after advocacy led by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless through our signature campaign, HomeWorks.

“It will be better – it will be our own place,” says Robin Ward. “We can raise our kids the way we want to raise our kids. We don’t have to worry about living doubled-up with different people.” 

Continue reading The Ward family is getting a home of their own!