Hidden Homelessness in the United States

Why Congress must change the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of homelessness to align with other federal agencies

An FAQ created by Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Family Promise, National Network for Youth, and SchoolHouse Connection. 

What is HUD’s role and how does it define and measure homelessness? 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the federal agency that oversees national policy and programs related to housing needs and fair housing laws. This includes programs intended to address homelessness, such as rental assistance, housing vouchers, public and subsidized housing, and funding for emergency shelters and wrap-around services. 

HUD defines homeless as “a person who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.”  

To estimate the number of people experiencing homelessness in the United States, HUD conducts an annual Point-in-Time (PIT) count on a designated night in January. The PIT count tallies people staying at shelters, transitional housing programs, or a place not meant for habitation, such as a park or car.  

Continue reading Hidden Homelessness in the United States

SB1367 Public Housing Access Bill

The Public Housing Access Bill (PHAB) created standards for Illinois Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to use in the criminal background screening process, improving equity and access to affordable housing for individuals with criminal records. The bill shortened look-back periods and provides applicants with an opportunity to present mitigating circumstances before being denied due to their background.      

The current legislation will clarify data collection and the programs covered by PHAB.  

Sponsors: Sen. Belt, Sen. Peters, and Sen. Simmons

Updated February 24: Filed with Secretary by Sen. Laura M. Murphy

Community Comments:

As organizers gather in Springfield and Witness Slips are submitted we will keep you up to date with community comments and opportunities to take action.

Return to CCH’s 2023 Legislative

HB2481 / SB2241: Commit to Funding and Ending Homelessness in Illinois 

The recently completed state plan required by Governor Pritzker’s executive order, Home Illinois, creates a framework for achieving functional zero homelessness. The shortage of affordable housing compounded by losing employment, chronic physical and/or mental health problems, domestic violence, or a family turning away a child are just some of the circumstances that result in homelessness.  

State-funded programs to prevent and end homelessness receive deeply inadequate funding to achieve the goals of the plan. Providers have continuously stepped up to serve more people in crisis during the pandemic. Providers continue to struggle with: 

  • Increasing rents in the private market, making it harder to help people maintain or find a home.  
  • Agencies unable to pay competitive wages to retain and recruit qualified staff. 
  • Shelters losing donated spaces and volunteers due to COVID-19 concerns. 

This legislation will increase the housing and homeless service line items. These funds will help support the development of new housing opportunities, keep people on the brink of homelessness to maintain their housing, provide supportive services and make sure that staff in these programs are provided with a living wage.  

Supportive Housing Services  

  • Current Funding: $42.59 million 
  • Total Increased Funding Need: $17.9 million 

The Homeless Youth Program 

  • Current Funding: $7.28 million 
  • Total Increased Funding Need: $5 million 

The Homelessness Prevention Program  

  • Current Funding: $10 million 
  • Increased Funding Need: $5 million 

The Emergency and Transitional Housing Program 

  • Current Funding: $10.38 million 
  • Increased Funding Need: $51 million 

Sponsors: Rep. Mussman and Sen. Johnson

Update: February 15, 2023 – Referred to Rules (House), Referred to Assignments (Senate)

Community Comments:

As organizers gather in Springfield and Witness Slips are submitted we will keep you up to date with community comments and opportunities to take action.

Return to CCH’s 2023 Legislative

HB2302 / SB1580: Creating Opportunities For Illinoisans in Need (COIN Act)

In 1996, Congress changed public benefits providing states with block grants to assist people living in extreme poverty. States are permitted to use the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant in the way they see fit, though the main purpose of the grant is to provide cash assistance to families. Of the billion dollars Illinois has in TANF funds, we use 4% on cash assistance.  The monthly grant for a family of 3, a parent and their two children, living in Illinois is $549. Parents share that the grant is not enough to meet their basic needs, including rent, utilities, clothing, personal hygiene products, diapers, transportation, etc. 

This legislation will increase monthly TANF grants to 50% of the FPL. Increasing the cash grant amount to at least 50% of FPL would lift a quarter of Illinois children living in extreme poverty out of extreme poverty, which would lead to improved economic, health, and educational outcomes. 

Sponsors: Rep. Evans and Sen. Johnson  

Update: February 14, 2023 – Referred to Rules Committee (House), Assigned to Appropriations-Health and Human Services (Senate)

Community Comments:

As organizers gather in Springfield and Witness Slips are submitted we will keep you up to date with community comments and opportunities to take action.

Return to CCH’s 2023 Legislative

HB 3116: Learning to Support Students Experiencing Homelessness

For students experiencing housing insecurity, school is often the only place where things are stable and provide some form of normalcy. Maintaining their presence and consistent attendance is critical for their futures. Experiencing homelessness as an adult can be traumatic but can be more so for young children and teens. 

This legislation will provide training to teachers and staff to assist and support students experiencing homelessness.

Sponsors: Rep. Stuart and Sen. Villa

Community Comments:

The legislation will require teachers and other staff to participate in a training to best support students experiencing homelessness. We know annually in Illinois there are nearly 40,000 students who experience homelessness. This legislation will provide school personnel with the tools needed to best support these students and keep the students enrolled and connected to their school and services.

This bill is no longer accepting Witness Slips.

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SNAP Emergency Allotments Ending

En Español

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has announced that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will return to pre-pandemic levels beginning in March 2023. Illinois will sustain emergency SNAP benefits through February, but the federal increases will end on March 1, 2023. 

With the end of emergency benefits, SNAP participants will see benefits reduced. The reduction in SNAP benefits is a result of a federal policy change, not because of changes in individual SNAP cases. 

Since April 2020, all Illinois SNAP households received both the regular monthly benefit and an emergency SNAP allotment. Beginning on March 1, 2023, each SNAP household will only receive benefits based on factors like household size, income, and deductions. This means that the decrease in the benefit amounts will depend on each household’s size and financial circumstances. 

All SNAP recipient households will receive a client notice listing the amount of benefits they will receive. 

IDHS has also put together a resource page to help SNAP households with the transition. Customers will receive their regular normal SNAP benefits through their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card beginning in March 2023 on their regularly scheduled issuance date. 

To prepare for this change, IDHS recommends SNAP customers visit www.abe.illinois.gov and update their account if there is a change in address, increase in housing costs, or decrease in income. This will ensure that SNAP households are receiving their maximum benefits. 

If you have any questions regarding public benefits such as SNAP, TANF, or Medicaid, please contact Venus Rivera, Public Benefits Specialist at the CCH Law Project, by email at venus@chicagohomeless.org or call (312) 720-1800. 

Find a Food Pantry

Sobre el fin de las asignaciones de emergencia de SNAP (borrador)

Febrero de 2023

El Departamento de Servicios Humanos de Illinois (Illinois Department of Human Services, IDHS) ha anunciado que los beneficios del Programa Suplementario de Asistencia Nutricional (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP) volverán a los niveles anteriores a la pandemia a partir de marzo de 2023. Illinois mantendrá los beneficios de emergencia del SNAP hasta febrero, pero los aumentos federales finalizarán el 1 de marzo de 2023.

Con el fin de los beneficios de urgencia, los participantes del SNAP verán reducidos sus beneficios. La reducción de los beneficios del SNAP se debe a un cambio en la política federal, no a cambios en los casos individuales del SNAP.

Desde abril de 2020, todos los hogares SNAP de Illinois recibieron tanto el beneficio mensual regular como una asignación SNAP de emergencia. A partir del 1 de marzo de 2023, cada hogar SNAP sólo recibirá beneficios basados en factores como el tamaño del hogar, los ingresos y las deducciones. Esto significa que la reducción del monto de los beneficios dependerá del tamaño de cada hogar y de sus circunstancias económicas.

Todos los hogares beneficiarios del SNAP recibirán un aviso de cliente en el que se indicará el monto de los beneficios que recibirán.

El IDHS también ha creado una página de recursos para ayudar a los hogares SNAP con la transición. Los clientes recibirán sus beneficios normales de SNAP a través de su tarjeta de Transferencia Electrónica de Beneficios (Electronic Benefit Transfer, EBT) a partir de marzo de 2023 en su fecha de emisión regular programada.

Para prepararse para este cambio, el IDHS recomienda a los clientes de SNAP visitar www.abe.illinois.gov y actualizar su cuenta si hay un cambio de dirección, aumento de los costos de vivienda o disminución de los ingresos. Esto garantizará que los hogares beneficiarios del SNAP reciban el beneficio máximo.

Si tiene alguna pregunta sobre beneficios públicos como SNAP, TANF o Medicaid, póngase en contacto con Venus Rivera, Especialista en Prestaciones Públicas del CCH Law Project, por correo electrónico en la dirección venus@chicagohomeless.orgo por teléfono al(312) 720-1800.

Para más información, visite www.abe.illinois.gov/abe/access.

Encuentre una despensa de alimentos local en Illinois: https://eat-move-save.extension.illinois.edu/#food-finder

Encuentre una despensa de alimentos local en Chicago: www.chicagosfoodbank.org/findfood

Budget Address

Illinois state building sits on a dark blue background with white text above it that reads "CCH's Response to the Governor's Budget Address
By Doug Schenkelberg, Executive Director, February 15th 2023

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) appreciates Governor Pritzker’s focus on addressing homelessness, housing, and poverty in his budget address and proposed Fiscal Year 2024 State of Illinois Budget. As the Governor stated in his address, “…we will have failed everyone in Illinois if we don’t place a higher priority on tackling poverty…” This proposed budget is a step in the right direction. 

The Home Illinois initiative puts needed focus on addressing the needs of those experiencing homelessness and poverty. As the Governor noted, “In Illinois, Black people are eight times more likely to experience homelessness than white people…” and underlined tackling homelessness is fundamental to advancing racial equity. Moreover, he included people living doubled-up in his description of homelessness, which aligns with CCH’s annual estimate of homelessness for Illinois.  

We are encouraged by the proposed investment in new funding to tackle homelessness. We look forward to working with the legislature and governor’s office to ensure the final budget includes increased funding for Emergency and Transitional Housing, Youth Homelessness, and Supportive Housing services. These funds can be used to make sure every person living in Illinois has a safe place to call their own along with supportive services to allow them to live independently. Homeless and housing providers have weathered the pandemic, changing their model to keep their clients, who are likely to be high-risk, safer. They have lost staff due to COVID as well as their inability to pay competitive wages. 

The Governor’s proposal to increase the TANF monthly grant amount to 40% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is a step in the right direction toward ending familial poverty in Illinois. The need is growing for Illinoisan families with the cost of living and prices soaring on basic but necessary items, and with the end of the emergency SNAP allotment families are looking for relief, especially those living in deep poverty. We encourage the legislature to work with the Governor’s office to include an increase in TANF to 50% of FPL to provide additional funds to pay off debt, to save, and to make the necessary purchases for their families.   

The Governor and the General Assembly have shown through their actions over the past few years they want to invest in the needs of those that are too often pushed to the margins. We look forward to working with them this year to enact a 2024 budget that continues this work. 

Read more about the state work CCH is doing.

CCH Senior Attorney Reflects on Recent Civil Rights Victory for Ms. Julie Campos

“It will take action”… to repair relations between the police and the community.

Our client, a young single mother experiencing housing instability was at work providing for her family when her interactions with the Chicago police occurred. This incident took place during a period of civil unrest in our city following the murder of George Floyd. Relations between the police and the community, already tense, were now fractured. This was an opportunity for the police to restore relations with the community. They could have offered a hand, or at the very least, demonstrated gratitude for the employees working to restore a local business. What happened instead: our client was arrested unlawfully, detained, and was charged with resisting/obstructing a police officer.   

We (CCH, Porter Wright and ACLU of IL) obtained a substantial settlement for our client, and not long after this lawsuit was filed, the main officer involved in violating our client’s constitutional rights retired from the Chicago Police Department.

This officer had a history of numerous complaints filed against them during their career as a police officer.  

As a youth, I aspired to be an advocate for individuals who were more likely to experience adversity because of the inequities that exist in this society and our city. As a Latino man that was born and raised in Chicago, I have witnessed these inequities firsthand and have lived in communities disproportionally impacted by them. I want to be an advocate for change. I want to see us get to a place where the color of a person’s skin doesn’t impact their interactions with the police or the criminal justice system. Where it doesn’t determine the level of dignity and respect afforded to them. I want to live in city that doesn’t over-police the same communities it disinvests in.  

I believe relations with the police and the community are fractured but they can still be repaired. But it’s going to take action and not rhetoric to achieve this result. At CCH, we engage in work that moves us closer to a just society. This case is evidence of that, and I am humbled and honored to play a crucial role in this work.  

– Arturo Hernandez, Senior Attorney for the Law Project at Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.  

Related Media Coverage:

Video of Police Cam footage: https://youtu.be/rCNyyBjFeo

Press Release February 6, 2022

Press Release May 26, 2022



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Remembering Dem Hopkins – Punk Rock’s Passionate Advocate for Fighting Homelessness

By Michael Nameche, Director of Development 

CCH is sad to announce that long-time supporter, advocate, and former Board Member Dem Hopkins passed away this week. Dem will be remembered for the passion and creativity that he brought to fight against homelessness.  

Continue reading Remembering Dem Hopkins – Punk Rock’s Passionate Advocate for Fighting Homelessness