Farewell to Associate Director of Organizing Hannah Willage

By Hannah Willage, Associate Director of Organizing

This week marks the end of my 10 years working for Chicago Coalition for the Homeless as I move on to work for Interfaith Youth Core.

I feel so grateful for the amazing people I have had the opportunity to work with during my time at CCH. The leaders and staff have had a great impact on me. Together we have been able to create change. We have learned together, grown together, and educated the community and people in power together. Continue reading Farewell to Associate Director of Organizing Hannah Willage

‘4-Star City’ campaign calls attention to homelessness in Chicago

Launching Friday, a new integrated ad campaign seeks to create awareness and empathy for Chicagoans who cope with homelessness while living on the street.

Developed pro bono by marketing communications firm MARC USA, the integrated campaign plays on Chicago’s popular 4-star city flag. One of the best-known and most visible city flags in the country – found on businesses, front porches, T-shirts, and even tattoos – Chicago’s 4-star flag promotes the city’s capacity to offer a top quality of life.

The “4-Star City” campaign features 30- and 60-second videos running as broadcast and digital PSAs, with print and outdoor versions. Continue reading ‘4-Star City’ campaign calls attention to homelessness in Chicago

Niani fought for the education she deserves

Niani Scott anticipates heading back to school each fall. Admitted to a dual degree program, she now studies journalism and political science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Her love of writing sparked during high school, when Niani won awards for writing “poetry focused on social injustice.”

And it was at high school that she was personally impacted by injustice.

The summer before starting at Plainfield East, Niani and her mother became homeless. A friend who lived nearby let them move in, doubling-up to avoid a shelter. Continue reading Niani fought for the education she deserves

Slip in support of the College Hunger bill

Nov. 9 Update:

Thanks to the more than 100 people who, on short notice, slipped in support of the College Hunger bill advocated by CCH, Heartland Alliance, and the Shriver Center.

SB351 passed out of the Illinois House Human Services Committee by a 10-0 vote on Nov. 8. We’re disappointed to report that despite strong and vocal and bi-partisan support, including Gov. Rauner, the bill did not progress through the legislative process before the 2-week veto session concluded.

We are confident that the College Hunger bill will progress in the 2018 legislative session. Your support makes a difference!


By Niya Kelly, State Legislative Director

Please take two minutes to show support for the College Hunger bill (Senate Bill 351) before it is called by the House Human Services Committee for a hearing Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m.

SB351 would provide assistance to vocational-track students who, but for their enrollment in community college, would be eligible for food assistance in the form of SNAP benefits. Up to 40,000 students would be helped.

This bill ensures that students won’t have to make the choice between buying food and continuing their education.

Legislators check to see how many people slip in support of a bill, so please slip in support by clicking THE LINK below.

Instructions for filing a slip:

* If you do not represent or work for an organization, then type “Self”
* If you don’t have title, type “None” in that field
Fill this out if you are representing a group, organization or business (make sure that you have their permission before filling this out). Otherwise, type “None.”
Click on Record of Appearance Only


The Illinois Senate passed SB351 on October 25 by a 54-1 vote.
Advocating with CCH for the College Hunger bill are the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and Heartland Alliance.

Homeless and housing cutbacks contested during state budget hearing

By Niya Kelly, State Legislative Director

Despite the General Assembly ending a record-setting two-year state budget impasse, Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed mid-year cutbacks to vital human services, including homeless and housing service funding.

The governor has authority to effect FY18 cutbacks in Illinois without further legislative approval.

Homeless and housing line items are funded through several streams, including the General Revenue Fund and funds dedicated to homeless and housing services. The governor proposed a 5% cut across the board to General Revenue. If enacted by the governor, the proposed cutbacks would impact FY18 state contracts already signed with providers.

Proposed cutbacks include:

  • $227,000 to Homeless Youth, a 4% cutback to to a $5.5 million budget
  • $51,000 to Homeless Prevention, cutting 1% from a $4.9 million budget
  • $671,000 to Supportive and Transitional Housing, cutting 2% from total funding of $30 million

To put a face to the proposed cuts, the House Human Services – Appropriations Committee met Nov. 1 to hear from service providers and people receiving services.

Imploring Rauner to reconsider mid-year cuts, Connections for the Homeless was among those that testified. The Evanston provider is active in the State Network at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

“Any cut of any size impacts those most in need,” said Sue Loellbach, Connections’ Manager of Advocacy. “Our organization has cut everywhere we can throughout the budget impasse.”

Connections for the Homeless provides a variety of services, including homeless prevention grants to households threatened with eviction and foreclosure. It is easier and cost-effective to help a family stay housed rather than attempting to rehouse them once they’ve become homeless.

A family that becomes homeless needs emergency shelter and supportive services. The family, especially the children, experiences the trauma of losing their home. Securing new housing later becomes more difficult with an eviction or foreclosure on a family’s credit history.

Homeless and housing services suffered greatly when the budget impasse dragged on. Service providers and their clients not only deserve their funding but also the stability of knowing that what they were promised in their signed contracts is the funding they will receive.

Join us Saturday at the Associate Board’s Halloween fundraiser

Why didn’t the skeleton go to the party?

Because he had no body to go with!

For the ninth year, the Associate Board of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless is hosting a Halloween costume fundraiser.  All are welcome to join in the festivities!

Saturday, October 28

At aliveOne – 2683 N. Halsted St., Chicago

7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

All tax-deductible tips collected at the event by the Associate Board’s seven guest bartenders will go to support the work of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

There is no cover to attend the event and prizes for the best costumes will be awarded.

If you can’t attend but you would like to support their efforts, each bartender has a virtual tip jar which can be found HERE.

Kudos to our bartenders Zibi Bednarz, Derrick Lloyd, Brandon Petesch, former CCH intern Gisele Romero, and Associate Board members Morganne Howell, Adele Lahl, Erik Mothersbaugh and Sam Phelps.

Every little bit helps: To date, 70 online donors have helped the Associate Board to raise more than $3,000 to support the work of CCH.

– Michael Nameche, Director of Development

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 http://www.naehcy.org/2017-conference-registration


– 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