Homelessness is caused by many factors that include less affordable housing, too few living wage jobs, and too few resources for those trying to restore their lives after incarceration or unemployment.
Our non-profit uses community organizing, advocacy and legal aid to press for measures that help homeless people get back on their feet. CCH counters public complacency about people left homeless and without options due to extreme poverty.
By example, CCH mobilized homeless moms to ask Illinois legislators to create Homeless Prevention grants. Almost 100,000 Illinois households have been assisted since 2000. Administered by community providers, the state provides one-time grants to help families avoid foreclosure or eviction. Follow-up studies show that 86% remained housed 18 months later.
Unfortunately, state support for homeless prevention yo-yos over the years, so CCH must advocate every year for its funding. Illinois increased prevention funding to $11 million in FY 2007 and FY 2008. But by FY 2012, funding was less than $1.5 million and federal stimulus for prevention grants was running out. Working with our homeless leaders, community supporters and Housing Action Illinois, CCH persuaded legislators to restore $4 million in FY 2013.
CCH works in these key areas:
• Community organizing trains homeless people to advocate on key issues. Each year, more than 4,500 people participate in weekly to monthly outreach programs at shelters, transitional housing and street programs across Chicago. Hundreds of shelter residents later work with us at rallies, meetings and trips to City Hall or Springfield.
• Advocacy and public policy works to preserve the shelter safety net, develop affordable housing, and improve the supply of transitional and living wage jobs. We press for access to support services and public schools. CCH also pursues re-entry options for the formerly incarcerated, including women who were trafficked in the sex trade.
• The Law Project offers no-charge legal aid services. In 2012, three attorneys represented 252 clients in Chicago and the suburbs, 96% of them homeless students and unaccompanied youth. It is the only legal aid program in Illinois solely dedicated to serving people who are homeless or at-risk.
A variety of foundations help fund the breadth of this work at CCH, including the Marguerite Casey Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, Woods Fund of Chicago, Helen Brach Foundation, Crown Family Philanthropies, and the Alphawood Foundation.