CCH awards college scholarships to seven new high school graduates

Updated July 27 – Seven high school graduates who will receive a CCH college scholarship were celebrated at an outdoor celebration with CCH staff, selection committee members, and limited guests on July 26. 

CCH offers $3,500 renewable scholarships to students who succeeded in school while experiencing homelessness. Twenty students will be assisted next school year, including three sophomores, three juniors, and seven seniors. 

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Bring Chicago Home: Advocates Reintroduce Resolution at City Hall to Combat Homelessness

Outside City Hall on Wednesday, July 21, 2021, elected officials and advocates stood together to demonstrate support and to speak on the pressing need to address homelessness and housing instability. As Illinois’ Eviction Moratorium is set to be lifted, a dedicated funding stream for affordable housing is needed. 

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CCH closes application for second round of Mutual Aid Fund assistance

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless’ Fund will provide up to $500 to those who are or have been homeless. 

Updated July 12 – The COVID-19 pandemic amplified the hardships experienced by people who are homeless as well as those at-risk of homelessness. With the impending end of the eviction moratorium, many more Illinoisians will be placed further at-risk of homelessness. 

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Grassroots leaders share original poetry at Horizons virtual showcase

Horizons’ virtual showcase is now available to stream on Facebook and YouTube. A special prescreening of the program for participants, grassroots leaders, staff, and board was held Thursday, June 24 via Zoom.

Horizons is a creative writing outreach program offered at family shelters, facilitated by Special Projects Organizer Claudia Cabrera. Twice-a-month sessions involve more than 100 people a year.

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CCH welcomes Northern Illinois Community Organizer Alex Shapiro

Alex Shapiro joined our staff this month, filling a new organizing position with a focus on Illinois communities outside of Chicago. We asked Alex to introduce himself.

Hi! I’m Alex Shapiro, and I’m excited to be joining the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless as the Northern Illinois Community Organizer. I’ll be working to build and support the Homeless Prevention State Network in northern Illinois communities outside of Chicago.

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CCH advocacy leads to two new bills removing barriers and $1 billion in housing funding

Advocacy and organizing in Springfield this legislative session resulted in the passage of HB88 and SB190, bills removing barriers for TANF recipients and homeless college students, and a budget that includes $1 billion in funding dedicated to housing, homelessness prevention, and services. 

By Niya K. Kelly, Director of State Legislative Policy, Equity and Transformation

During this successful legislative session, CCH policy and organizing staff alongside our grassroots leaders worked on various initiatives to remove barriers for people experiencing homelessness.   

CCH advocated with Heartland Alliance and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law to remove the eligibility restriction that bars people with drug-related felony convictions from receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), House Bill 88, (sponsored by Leader Mary Flowers in the House and Senator Patricia Van Pelt in the Senate). TANF is a cash grant providing families living in extreme poverty with assistance to meet their basic needs.  

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Horizons to host virtual showcase on June 25

DeNaysa Williams sharing a poem at the 2020 virtual showcase

Horizons’ virtual showcase will be available to stream on Facebook and YouTube beginning June 25. A special prescreening of the program for participants, grassroots leaders, staff, and board will be held on Zoom the previous afternoon. The streamed event will feature original poetry read by 12 grassroots leaders with lived experience of homelessness and their children. This years’ showcase will be emceed by grassroots leader Edrika Fulford. 

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College Access Bill passes Illinois General Assembly

SB190 received bipartisan support and passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly unanimously.

By Niya K. Kelly, Director of State Legislative Policy, Equity and Transformation 

We encourage youth to reach beyond their present to change their circumstances, but often overlook impediments preventing them from reaching their dreams. A bill designed to remove these impediments and deliver the assistance necessary for students experiencing homelessness to successfully complete their education – SB190 –unanimously passed the Illinois House on May 21, after passing the Senate in April.  

Many students experiencing homelessness who enroll in higher education share similar stories of getting to college and feeling overwhelmed. In high school, they had a liaison who assisted with fee waivers, transportation, and pointed them to services in the community, but for most this does not exist at the college level.  

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Bring Chicago Home hosts citywide housing forum

Chicago advocates demanded funds for affordable housing from $1.9 billion meant for pandemic relief amid potential spike in homelessness.

On May 4, Bring Chicago Home and the Right to Recovery Coalitions convened over 150 people via Zoom to demand the city take the necessary next steps to address the housing crisis that exists in Chicago. “Before COVID-19, 77,000 Chicagoans were already experiencing homelessness on the streets, in shelters or doubling-up,” said Jasmine Crawford, shelter manager with Franciscan Outreach, “and now the situation is even worse.” 

The groups pointed to a survey done by the Census Bureau this past March, which showed how over 400,000 Chicagoland households expressed slight or no confidence in their ability to pay next month’s rent. In addition, calls to Chicago’s Homelessness Prevention Call Center increased by as much as 300% compared to previous years.  

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CCH welcomes Vanessa Álvarez to head our new Communications Department

Earlier this month, Vanessa joined our staff to guide the creation of a new two-person department which will focus, enhance and streamline CCH’s existing communications efforts, ensuring alignment with CCH’s strategic goals and efforts to advance racial equity. We are excited to have her join our staff. 

E. Vanessa Álvarez is a strategist and marketing and communications pro from and living in Chicago. Her love for her city and its people lead her to be a catalyst for its communities. 

Vanessa was born with natural curiosity, always asking questions. Early on, storytelling became a part of her life. So much so that in 2013, Vanessa wrote her mother’s obituary, which caught the eye of an editor. Vanessa was interviewed and a week later a full-page feature about her mother was printed in the Chicago Sun-Times. This affirmed to Vanessa that she could and should continue to base her career on words.  

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