CCH community leaders head to Springfield – our 2018 agenda explained

More than 150 homeless leaders from shelters and schools in Chicago and Skokie joined the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) for a day of advocacy in Springfield on April 18.

CCH is advocating this spring legislative session on statewide measures that would impact low-income families and community college students, people in community reentry, and households facing homelessness. We brought 154 leaders to Springfield from Casa Central and La Casa Norte shelters, Earle Elementary and Schurz and Solario high schools in Chicago, and Niles West High School in Skokie.

Springfield advocacy day, April 18, 2018

CCH also works with the Responsible Budget Coalition on the Fair Tax Now campaign, advocating for a progressive income tax in Illinois.

These statewide measures are detailed below, with links to fact sheets. Continue reading CCH community leaders head to Springfield – our 2018 agenda explained

Springfield breakfast explains budget issues, bills to help homeless people

From left, Flora Koppel, Niya Kelly, Mercedes Gonzalez, Laura McNeece; back, Wayne Richard, Gloria Davis, and Doug Schenkelberg

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless hosted another successful annual Legislative Breakfast at the State Capitol. Members of the General Assembly were invited to talk with homeless service providers, CCH grassroots leaders, and staff at the April 11 event.

Laura McNeece from Aurora’s Hesed House and Flora Koppel from Unity Parenting & Counseling in Chicago discussed funding homeless and housing services in Illinois. They talked about the need to return homeless youth program funding to $5.6 million, now at $5.5 million. They also explained why homeless prevention grants should increase by $2 million, to $6.9 million. Continue reading Springfield breakfast explains budget issues, bills to help homeless people

Rose Shure gives legacy gift, supporting CCH’s HomeWorks

Rose and Sidney Shure, 1964

A generous bequest from long-time donor Rose Shure has been dedicated to CCH’s HomeWorks campaign, which advocates for housing and better school services for homeless families.

“While she was never homeless as a child, Rose rose out of poverty because her family stressed the value of education above all else,” said niece Barbara Levie.

The chairman of Shure Microphones, Mrs. Shure died two years ago at age 95. Mrs. Shure supported CCH personally and through her company for 24 years, culminating in a recently received generous bequest. Continue reading Rose Shure gives legacy gift, supporting CCH’s HomeWorks

Wayne Richard named Director of Organizing

Wayne Richard, a veteran community organizer and a former leader, has been named to serve as the new Director of Organizing at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

Wayne is known and respected by CCH allies and those working in the homeless community. A member of the organizing staff for 18 years, he most recently served as Associate Director of Organizing. In that role, he directed organizer training and led Horizons, a creative writing outreach program offered in family shelters. Continue reading Wayne Richard named Director of Organizing

New CCH informational brochure on how to access identification documents

Losing an identification card or other essential documents is a real inconvenience for most of us — long lines at the Secretary of State’s office, waiting for a new Social Security card in the mail, or having to pay online for a new birth certificate.

But for people experiencing homelessness, the loss of a vital ID record can be devastating.

Lacking any combination of the three essential documents – birth certificate, Social Security card, and state ID card – can prevent a homeless person from starting a new job, signing a lease, accessing public benefits, or doing something as simple as entering a government building.

Many homeless individuals have their belongings, including vital documents, lost or stolen because of their unstable living situation, leaving them with nothing. Getting a new ID without another ID can seem impossible, especially for those without financial resources and assistance. Continue reading New CCH informational brochure on how to access identification documents

$2,500 college scholarship applications due April 16

Applications are due in mid-April for $2,500 renewable college scholarships. By June, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) will select four graduating high school seniors who succeeded in school despite coping personally with homelessness.

Our 2017 winners: Prince Washington, Avery Williams, Mayra Fajardo, and Niani Scott

Students from Chicago and suburban schools are eligible to apply, as well as youth leaders active with CCH. Most scholarship winners receive $10,000 to complete their bachelor’s degree.

Online applications are available here.

All online and paper applications must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 16, 2018. This includes all supplemental materials, such as two references, that will be reviewed by our selection committee. Continue reading $2,500 college scholarship applications due April 16

CCH statement on the Loop Alliance addition of armed security to deal with panhandling

March 1 – Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) is very concerned about the Loop Alliance’s addition of private, armed guards to the streets. Panhandling is a lawful activity and targeting people who are homeless for panhandling violates the First Amendment right to free speech and the Illinois Bill of Rights for the Homeless Act.

We know from our work that people experiencing homelessness experience high levels of harassment from both Chicago Police and other security personnel. They often are given tickets for “aggressive panhandling,” even when they are doing nothing wrong, as a form of harassment and a way to discourage them from being in an area. Moreover, we are very concerned about whether these or any armed guards are properly trained to understand the complexities of homelessness and engage with someone that may be dealing with trauma or mental health issues.

The fact that there are people in the Loop that are experiencing homelessness should lead to a discussion to how we collectively solve homelessness. The Loop Alliance has not reached out to CCH about their decision to hire armed security guards. Had they, we would have told them we disagree with the decision, and we believe that they should put the time and resources they are spending on that response into supporting and advocating for the permanent housing people experiencing homelessness need. That is the only true solution to homelessness.

– Doug Schenkelberg, Executive Director

Link to Chicago Loop Alliance media release

Link to Chicago Tribune: Armed private guards will patrol State Street to aid security downtown

Senior Organizer Jim Picchetti offers trainings in Central Europe

Jim Picchetti, CCH’s State Network senior organizer, is in Central Europe this month through a training exchange program.

Jim on a previous exchange trip through GLC in 2014.

Sponsored by the Great Lakes Consortium (GLC) for International Training and Development, the exchange trades community organizers from the U.S. and Central Europe each year. CCH has sent organizers abroad for six trainings and hosted 11 interns through the GLC program.

Jim will offer follow-up training to former CCH interns working in Hungary and Slovakia. Continue reading Senior Organizer Jim Picchetti offers trainings in Central Europe

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.