European fellows train with community organizers at CCH

It was a homecoming of sorts for Ivana Novakova when she arrived in April for a four-week community organizing fellowship at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

From left, CCH’s Keith Freeman, Zsuzsa Berecz, Ivana Novakova, and a Breakthrough Urban Ministries’ Wendy Daniels

Ivana’s job was created last year, after the deputy director of the homeless services agency, Depaul Slovensko, completed the same fellowship at CCH. When Jozef Kákoš returned to Slovakia last spring, he created an organizer’s job and promoted Ivana to the post.

“When Jozef came back, we talked about how we need to do things to work in the community. He asked me if I wanted to be an organizer,” Ivana said. Continue reading European fellows train with community organizers at CCH

Executive Director Doug Schenkelberg named a 2019 fellow at Leadership Greater Chicago

Announcement published by Leadership Greater Chicago

40 civic-minded leaders from across sectors selected for region’s most prestigious civic leadership development program

Today, Leadership Greater Chicago (LGC) announced its 2019 Class of LGC Fellows. This select group of 40 accomplished and diverse individuals represents a cross-section of professionals from the corporate, nonprofit, government, and education sectors. They share the organization’s mission to effect transformative change in the community, and join a 35-year legacy of building and strengthening the pipeline of civic leaders who will lead the future of Chicago.

Over the course of the 10-month program, the 2019 LGC Fellows will be immersed in key socioeconomic issues facing our city and the region through full-day seminars, community site visits, discussion groups, conversations with subject matter experts, cultural events, and experiential learning opportunities. Continue reading Executive Director Doug Schenkelberg named a 2019 fellow at Leadership Greater Chicago

Updated Illinois Homeless Youth Handbook now available online

The Law Project has published an online update of the Illinois Homeless Youth Handbook, collaborating again with attorneys from Baker McKenzie and United Airlines.

First released in 2015, the new version of the Illinois handbook is accessed at

“The recent handbook update reflects changes to state and federal laws. The content has been enhanced to make a more comprehensive useful tool for homeless youth and professionals who work with them,” said Associate Law Project Director Beth Malik.

“We’re grateful to Baker McKenzie and United Airlines for their pro bono work and collaboration on this project.” Continue reading Updated Illinois Homeless Youth Handbook now available online

Press advisory: Thousands illegally denied health coverage in Illinois – state of Illinois sued for massive Medicaid delay

Released by the Legal Council for Health Justice

Attorneys on behalf of thousands of low-income people filed a motion in court on Wednesday to enforce federal law and the state of Illinois’ agreement to process Medicaid applications in a timely fashion. The attorneys charge that the state is violating both federal law and and Illinois court order by significantly delaying Medicaid applications and denying residents access to health coverage.

The motion, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, asks the court to enforce an existing consent decree that requires the state to determine eligibility for Medicaid within federal timelines,  and to offer temporary medical assistance to people whose application nonetheless pend beyong the federal time limits. The advocates allege the state is woefully behind in its processing and has not offered temporary medical assistance as a solution.

“I’ve represented a multitude of youth clients experiencing homelessness, many of whom have significant physical and mental healthcare needs, who are going without access to care for months,” said Tanya Gassenheimer, youth health attorney at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Gassenheimer, who helps youth experiencing homelessness apply for Medicaid and file appeals with DHS regarding any issues with those applications, filed a declaration in the motion. “My clients rely on programs like Medicaid for survival. These issues are simply inexcusable and it’s well past time for DHS to act.”

Under federal law, the state of Illinois is required to process most applications for Medicaid — the federal-state program that provides health coverage to roughly 3 million Illinoisans — within 45 days. Pursuant to the existing consent decree in Cohen v. Wright, if a determination has not been made in that period, the state must notify applicants that they are eligible for temporary coverage and promptly provide it if requested.

Yet as detailed in declarations filed by enrollment assisters and healthcare providers, the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) is months behind in processing applications and has also stopped sending notices offering temporary eligibility. As a result, tens of thousands of low-income people throughout Illinois are being denied medical care. Among the widespread suffering and hardship, pregnant women are giving birth without health coverage, people facing mental health crises are missing treatment, and children with serious medical conditions are forgoing crucial medication.

“The state of Illinois is clearly in violation of federal law and thousands of Illinoisans are suffering gravely because of it,” said Carrie Chapman, director of advocacy at Legal Council for Health Justice, one of the organizations that helped file the motion. “DHS must provide our clients with access to the care they need and are legally entitled to — we simply can’t wait any longer.”

Plaintiffs allege that delays in processing Medicaid applications have worsened in the last several months, and that eligible individuals are routinely waiting for three to six months to have their applications processed and approved. The lawsuit comes after lawyers representing the plaintiffs tried for months to resolve the issues without legal action, but were unable to compel DHS to comply.

The plaintiffs are also represented by attorneys from the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and Sidley Austin LLP.

“People with low income need healthcare coverage to stay healthy and pursue financial security,” said Stephanie Altman, senior director of policy and healthcare justice at the Shriver Center. “By restricting access to vital care, the state of Illinois is jeopardizing both the short- and long-term well-being of our clients.”

Read the motion filed here.


CCH’s 2016 count of homeless Chicagoans: 80,384

In 2016, 80,384 Chicagoans were homeless, according to an annual survey released by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH).

Eighty percent of homeless residents lived doubled-up in the homes of others due to hardship, often in overcrowded conditions. Twenty percent stayed in emergency shelters or lived on the street.

Population breakdowns include:

35,435 homeless people lived in 8,860 families with children

44,757 homeless individuals

11,067 unaccompanied homeless youth, ages 14 through 24

Continue reading CCH’s 2016 count of homeless Chicagoans: 80,384

Chicago Public Schools begin preschool enrollment Monday

Beginning Monday, April 30, Chicago families with preschool-age children can apply to attend preschool for the next school year.

Children must be 3 or 4 years old by September 1, 2018 to be eligible for preschool in the 2018-19 school year. A family can apply for up to two different preschool programs.

Families can apply online at starting at 8:30 a.m. Monday. They can also apply at a designated Family Resource Center or by phone at (312) 229-1690. Continue reading Chicago Public Schools begin preschool enrollment Monday

Justice Circle honors supporters, law firm, and a dedicated client

Top supporters, a pro bono law firm, and a dedicated client were honored by the CCH Law Project at its annual Justice Circle reception April 17.

Marta Delgado and Sam Nandi

Held at Revolution Brewing, the celebration included an award presented to attorney Marta Delgado and her husband, Sam Nandi for their generous support. The Chicago couple has helped the Law Project further its resources, including a vehicle to offer outreach to students and unaccompanied youth.

“Marta and I are inspired by the work you do, the way you support the most vulnerable members of our community, and the way you fight for change in Illinois,” said Mr. Nandi.

The Law Project also honored three attorneys from Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd. Matthew Piers, Caryn Lederer, and Kate Schwartz were cited for their dedicated and skilled co-counseling of the first substantive case filed under the Illinois Bill of Rights for the Homeless Act.

CCH also thanked the client in that case, Robert Henderson. The Law Project and Hughes Socol represented Mr. Henderson when he sued after city workers, without notice, threw away his belongings from a West Side viaduct where he lived outside. Among his possessions lost in that November 2015 incident were medications, obituaries of loved ones, and a Bible given to him by a minister to his family.

From left, Matthew Piers, Robert Henderson, Caryn Lederer, Diane O’Connell, and Kate Schwartz

After more than two years, attorneys secured a February settlement that included monetary damages for Mr. Henderson.

“Right away when I met Robert, I knew there was something special about him,” said Diane O’Connell, his CCH attorney. “He was unafraid, he was committed, and he is usually about one hour early for any meeting! He inspired us, gave us pep talks, and was always clear that for him, this case wasn’t about winning or losing, it was about fighting back – and not just for himself, but for others who been forced to live outside and have experienced the same unjust treatment.

“Robert, I am honored to know you, and I want to thank you for bringing your dedication and courage to this case.”

Mr. Henderson, 64, now lives in a senior’s complex and volunteers at a soup kitchen.

The Law Project also thanks its Justice Circle event sponsors: Chase Bank was signature sponsor, with Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Butler Rubin Saltarelli & Boyd LLP as leader sponsors.

Additional sponsorship was offered by United Airlines; Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, P.C., and Funkhouser Vegosen Liebman & Dunn Ltd.

– Photos by Allison Williams

– Anne Bowhay, Media

Chase Day of Service outreach helps 63 parents

Chase Day of Service outreach team at Howe Elementary (Photo by Claire Sloss)

Working with 15 attorneys and volunteers from JPMorgan Chase Bank, staff of the CCH Law Project ran targeted outreach April 18 at two elementary schools and a family shelter on Chicago’s West Side.

The event assisted 63 parents at Howe and Ward elementary schools and the Single Room Housing Assistance Corporation (SRHAC).

Attorneys assisted homeless and at-risk families on more than 100 issues, including birth certificate requests, public benefits enrollment, and enrolling in preschool. Continue reading Chase Day of Service outreach helps 63 parents

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