The Architect’s Newspaper: Chicago uses Airbnb fees to house 100 homeless families

By Matthew Messner

While many cities struggle with their relationship with house-sharing micro-rental companies, Chicago is looking on the bright side of the relatively new phenomenon. The city has announced that it will use $1 million raised from fees paid by homeowners who use home-sharing platforms, such as Airbnb, to help house 100 homeless families. The Housing Homeless Families program is a joint initiative with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, one of the city’s primary resources for information on and advocacy for the homeless population.

The program will focus on families in areas of the city with high violent crime rates, including Austin, Englewood, West Englewood, and Humboldt Park. Working with shelters that specialize in family services and the Chicago Public School system, the program will focus specifically on families with school-age children.

“The goal of this initiative is to help our most vulnerable families to establish stability so that their children can succeed,” said Department of Family and Support Services Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler. “Thanks to collaboration with our partners at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, the city will deliver a coordinated response to ensure the needs of our most vulnerable families are met, and to prevent families on the cusp from experiencing homelessness.”

The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless recently released a report on the number of homeless people in the city. The count includes data on those who “double-up,” referring to people that do not have their own home but stay with friends or relatives. The report, which looks at 2015, found the city to have 82,000 homeless individuals, which includes nearly 10,000 homeless families. It is estimated that 87 percent of those who identified as homeless were “doubled-up.”

The money for the new program was raised through a $1 million investment by the Chicago Low Income Housing Trust Fund, with matching funds from a four percent surcharge leveled against homeowners using Airbnb and other home-sharing programs. That money will go towards providing housing vouchers to families and provide additional transition services. Those services will include helping families set up appointments, navigate the housing application process, and work with housing providers. The ultimate goal is to find permanent housing for the participating families.

“Around the city, children should be able to focus on their studies, and not where they are going to sleep at night,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the announcement of the initiative. “Working with our partners at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless on this new initiative, we will work to ensure that more families experiencing or on the verge of homelessness can find and maintain the housing and stability they need to thrive and provide for their children.”

CBS-TV Chicago: Homeless problem includes families forced to ‘double-up’

By Vince Gerasole

(CBS) — For the first time, the city of Chicago has some money to helpfamilies who don’t fit the traditional definition of the word “homeless.”

Most people who are without a home are not living on Lower Wacker Drive or beneath an expressway underpass, according to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

Their new definition of homeless includes families who are “doubled-up,” their term for families living temporarily with relatives or friends and not in a shelter.

They say more than 80 percent of homeless people are doubled-up.

Dominique Moore and her two children spent four months living with cousins before they went to a shelter. She says the shelter was actually better.

“Your family — you get in expecting them to be more open and welcoming, knowing that you’re in a bad situation. But you only get bad results,” Moore, 27, says.

Areasha Jackson is another example. She raises two daughters in a single room in a friend’s basement, while working as a home care aide for $250 a week.

“I get up and go to work every day and try and do my best and just pray — that’s it,”  Jackson tells CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole. LINK TO THE TV video here.

Federal money has not been available to help doubled-up families. But now the city says a portion of $1.8 million from a city surcharge on Airbnb rentals will help some of those families.

A new count estimates there are 82,000 homeless people in Chicago, most of them in the doubled-up situation.

WTTW: Chicago to house 100 homeless families, address ‘doubled-up’ population

By Maya Miller

This fall, 100 homeless families with school-age children will gain permanent housing and support services, thanks to a partnership between the city and the nonprofit Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the program Thursday morning, just one day after the coalition released its most recent figures on Chicago’s homeless population: 82,212 in 2015.

For the first time, the organization’s count includes the so-called “doubled-up” population – people who stay with friends and relatives in hard times. Though many self-identify as homeless, the U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development does not recognize them as such, according to Julie Dworkin, the director of policy at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

Continue reading WTTW: Chicago to house 100 homeless families, address ‘doubled-up’ population

Chicago Sun-Times, Mark Brown: They don’t live under a bridge, but they’re still homeless

These Chicago public high school students want others to know that “doubled up” families like theirs should be recognized as homeless. From left are Michael Hunter, Avion Smith, Chrishauna Thompson, Sonitra Mitchell, Jakyla Mitchell and Emilia Rendon. | Mark Brown/Sun-Times

By Mark Brown

I spent a heartbreaking couple of hours last week sitting around a table with six high school students who would tell you without hesitation that they are homeless even though they go to bed at night with a roof over their heads.

Each of these young people has been living “doubled up,” staying with relatives or friends after losing their own housing because of financial hardships.

It’s a hard way to live, they wanted me to know, in some ways more difficult than staying in a homeless shelter, which several of them also have done.

Continue reading Chicago Sun-Times, Mark Brown: They don’t live under a bridge, but they’re still homeless

Cook County Clerk’s office: David Orr lauds legislation making birth records free of charge for homeless, domestic violence victims, formerly incarcerated

Editor’s Note: Chicago Coalition for the Homeless advocated for this measure with Mr. Orr’s office, and a similar bill to assist homeless people statewide, House Bill 3060.

Cook County Clerk David Orr on Wednesday commended the Cook County Board of Commissioners for their passage of legislation that removes the fees for birth certificates from his office for homeless residents, domestic violence victims living in shelters and recently released inmates.

Orr worked with legislation sponsors Commissioners Larry Suffredin, John P. Daley, and Robert Steele on the amendment to the ordinance detailing Clerk’s Vital Records fees. The County Board approved the measure at their Wednesday meeting.

The amendment to the Vital Records fees ordinance states that homeless Cook County residents or not-for-profit organizations representing them, individuals who have been released from the state Department of Corrections or the Cook County Department of Corrections in the past 90 days and individuals residing in domestic violence shelters, “may receive a copy of their birth record at no cost.”

Continue reading Cook County Clerk’s office: David Orr lauds legislation making birth records free of charge for homeless, domestic violence victims, formerly incarcerated

The Columbia Chronicle: New response center to help homeless families

By Jackie Murray, Metro Reporter

Chicago’s first rapid response center designed to help homeless families get on the path to permanent housing will be built on the West Side through a collaboration between city officials and the Salvation Army.

“We’re just very thankful for the opportunity the city is providing us,” said Lt. Col. Charles Smith, metropolitan divisional commander for the Salvation Army. “We look forward to this service as the years go by.” 

The Shield of Hope, 910 N. Christiana Ave., will have a 20-room unit that can house up to 75 beds and a multipurpose room that can house cots if necessary.  Families can stay at the shelter from one to 10 days while being assessed and then will be referred to one of the 50 family shelters in the city before hopefully moving to permanent housing, Smith said. 

Construction is scheduled to begin in April or May 2017, and the facility is scheduled to open  its doors in the latter part of spring 2018, he added.

Continue reading The Columbia Chronicle: New response center to help homeless families

Illinois NPR: Bill would ban box that blocks college students

CCH NOTE: Chicago Coalition for the Homeless works in a reentry coalition advocating passage of Rep. Wheeler’s bill, House Bill 3142.

Our Reentry Project is part of the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois (RROCI). The coalition was organized in 2015 by CCH, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Community Renewal Society, and Heartland Alliance. RROCI advocates for policies that remove barriers for ex-offenders in community reentry.

By Dusty Rhodes

In a way, it’s just one little box on a lengthy college application form. But for many would-be students, that box is more of a stop sign if the instructions say “check here if you have a criminal record.” State Rep. Barbara Wheeler, a Republican from Crystal Lake, wants to change that.

She sat down with Education Desk reporter Dusty Rhodes to explain why.

Rep. Wheeler: A couple of years ago, a constituent came to me after he had been in some trouble during his high school years, and he needed some help with expungement as well as some advice in regard to going on with his life after high school graduation.

Continue reading Illinois NPR: Bill would ban box that blocks college students

Equal Voice News: Marguerite Casey Foundation honors César Chavez Day heroes for 2017


CCH leader Taishi Neuman is among 26 community leaders honored by the Marguerite Casey Foundation, a national funder based in Seattle.


Taishi Neuman – A Mom Fights for Good Housing, Inspiring Her Kids


Hero’s name: Taishi Neuman

Home city: Chicago

Organization affiliation: Chicago Coalition for the Homeless 

How does the person’s work advance social justice? What is the person’s vision for an equitable world?

“Taishi Neuman is inspired to help families coping with poverty. First homeless at age 15, she experienced homelessness again when multiple sclerosis left her unable to work as a nursing home assistant.

She thought she was too reserved to speak up, until Taishi met a community organizer from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH). He was running an outreach session, telling parents at her transitional housing program how they could speak up about school issues.

Continue reading Equal Voice News: Marguerite Casey Foundation honors César Chavez Day heroes for 2017

The Columbia Chronicle: Homeless lose refuge at Tent City

Mark Saulys, a resident of Tent City and organizer at One Northside, will benefit from the city’s housing pilot program and move into a home soon, he said. (Wesley Herold | Chronicle)

By Caroline Bowen, Metro Reporter

Below the busy Lake Shore Drive bridge over Wilson Avenue, snow and ice secures Mark Saulys’ tent to the cement. He has been homeless for more than a year but will trade his nylon walls for a sturdier home in a couple of weeks because of a city housing initiative, he said. 

“I’m worried for the people here, and I can see that they are worried about being tossed out,” Saulys said about his neighbors remaining in Uptown’s Tent City. 

Dozens of homeless people find refuge under the viaduct, which has often put them at odds with Chicago politicians. But construction slated to begin on the Lake Shore Drive bridges intersecting with Wilson Avenue and Lawrence Avenue this spring means time is dwindling for a place many call home, said Diane O’Connell, a staff attorney with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. 

Continue reading The Columbia Chronicle: Homeless lose refuge at Tent City

Chicago Sun-Times, Mark Brown: Trump budget would put bite on more than Meals on Wheels

Budget director Mick Mulvaney says administration officials should not provide any further details about the budget plan beyond what was in the 53-page document. | Getty Images

By Mark Brown, columnist

The problems that President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget would cause for Chicago extend far beyond the Meals on Wheels program that so far has received most of the attention.

As I explained in Sunday’s column, the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program that Trump would eliminate provides $1.8 million — or 20 percent — of the $8.6 million the city spends on its version of Meals on Wheels.

That’s not fake news. That’s a real cut that could severely impact a vital service that brings nutritious meals to 8,000 needy seniors a year.

But it’s also just a fraction of the city’s total expected $81 million CDBG allotment for 2017. Take away that money entirely, as Trump proposes, and you poke a painful hole in numerous other city social service efforts.

Continue reading Chicago Sun-Times, Mark Brown: Trump budget would put bite on more than Meals on Wheels