We asked new Policy Associate Mercedes González to introduce herself.
My interest in social justice stems from the issues I’ve seen my family struggle with firsthand.
As immigrants with low-wage jobs, my parents have faced homelessness more than once. Upon their arrival to the United States, they had little resources and were forced to double-up with family members. My parents were able to secure housing after a few months, but even then, our accommodations were inadequate. Heavy rains frequently inundated our home to the point where it was no longer habitable and we were forced to sleep on a mattress in the back of a U-Haul more than once. Needless to say, my family’s experience with homelessness drives my desire to assist those who face a similar uncertainty.
I pursued my undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I double-majored in Sociology and Latina/o Studies. At U. of I., I engaged in my first social justice campaigns: Organizing in opposition to Arizona’s SB 1070, legislation that required police officers to inquire about an individual’s immigration status based on “reasonable suspicion.” Although the most significant parts of the law were repealed, it caused widespread fear and led many other states to pass similar legislation.
After receiving my bachelor’s degree, I moved onto the University of Texas at Austin to pursue a Master’s of Public Affairs. While at UT, I interned at the Texas House of Representatives. I had the opportunity to work on Juvenile and Criminal Justice legislation and assisted in HB 2398’s passage, a bill effectively decriminalizing truancy in the state of Texas.
Upon graduation, I moved back to Chicago and began working at Illinois Action for Children. During my two years there, I monitored changes to federal programs and policies that impact young children and working families across Illinois.
In my transition to CCH, working on ways to help mitigate the effects of poverty will continue to be a focus of mine, specifically in removing barriers for people reentering the community after incarceration and other criminal justice initiatives. I hope that in the coming months, I can meaningfully contribute to CCH’s mission to end homelessness.