U.S. Census modifies procedures, deadlines for counting people experiencing homelessness

To ensure the health and safety of the public, the U.S. Census Bureau is modifying some of its census operations in the wake of COVID-19.

Here’s what you need to know.

The deadline to respond to the census has been extended from July 31 to Friday, August 14. But households are still strongly encouraged to respond early to minimize the need for follow up visits from a census official.

Are you living in a house or apartment or staying doubled-up at the home of a friend or relative?


  • Every household has been sent multiple mailings from the U.S. Census Bureau with instructions on how to participate.
  • You can complete the census online, over the phone, or by mail.
  • Visit my2020census.gov or call 844-330-2020 to participate. (Para español haga clic aquí o llame al 844-468-2020). Language support is available in 60 languages.
  • Every person living in the house should be counted, including family and friends who are residing temporarily or couch surfing.
  • Didn’t receive or can’t find your census mailing? You can still respond online without a Census ID number.

Are you living in a shelter?

(Delayed, with modifications)

  • Counting people at service-based locations (shelters, soup kitchens) has been delayed one month to take place between Wednesday, April 29 and Friday, May 1.
  • In-person interviews by census officials are suspended.
  • Instead, service providers will count their residents/clients by either
      • Providing the Census Bureau with response information using records from a check-in form or case management system; or
      • Scheduling a time for the Census Bureau to drop off and pick up census forms at the service site for residents/clients to fill out themselves.
  • If you are living in a shelter or receive services in the community, talk to staff to confirm when and how their location will be counted to make sure you’re not missed.

Are you living on the street or in an encampment?


  • The count at non-sheltered outdoor locations, such as tent encampments and underpasses, has been delayed one month. It will now take place the evening of Thursday, April 30.

You can still be counted if:

  • You are living doubled-up and were not included on your household’s form for any reason.
  • You started staying at a shelter after Friday, May 1 and missed the service-based count.
  • You are living on the street and a census worker did not find you the evening of April 30.

People experiencing homelessness who were not counted through the methods above can still complete a census form online or over the phone. This linked guide provides step by step instructions on how to respond online if you are homeless.

Don’t have access to a phone or computer? Chicago Public Library locations are currently closed as part of Governor JB Pritzker’s shelter in place order, but many shelters and social services agencies remain open. Shelter staffers may be able to help, so ask!

CCH’s outreach activities are on pause, but you still can help us ensure all Illinoisans are counted in the 2020 Census, no matter their housing status:

  • Share this blog post on social media.
  • Email our revised 2020 Census fact sheet, palm card, and poster to your networks. These documents, designed by CCH, were updated to reflect the U.S. Census Bureau’s modified operations.
  • Encourage your friends and family to complete the census online, over the phone, or by mail. Be sure to fill out your own form, too!
  • Check out the U.S. Census Bureau’s official 2020 Census page for more information.

Questions about the census counting those who are homeless?

Contact Gloria Davis, CCH Census 2020 Project Manager, at gloria@chicagohomeless.org or (312) 641-4140.

– Erin Sindewald, Development Manager



As city of Chicago ramps up its response to COVID-19, homeless advocates stress the need to expand on solutions

Today, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced her plan to ensure that all Chicago residents are cared for during the coronavirus pandemic. The plan includes two key measures: First, up to 2,000 hotel rooms will be made available for people who are exposed to or mildly ill with COVID-19 and unable to self-quarantine or isolate themselves at home. Second, the city has partnered with the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago to expand its shelter capacity and add another 400 beds to an already burdened shelter system, with another 500 anticipated later this week.

The announcement represents a significant step forward in the city’s fight to tackle this unprecedented crisis and its potentially dire repercussions on people experiencing homelessness. We thank Mayor Lightfoot’s administration, the YMCA, and all other civic leaders who have worked in concert and offered their support and resources to begin to address this profound need.

At the same time, additional steps to protect the city’s large homeless population from contracting the virus – an instrumental part of the strategy to limit its spread throughout our community – will be needed very quickly if Chicago is to effectively contain and conquer this threat.

In conversations with Mayor Lightfoot’s administration, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) has advocated for expanding isolation housing, amplifying on today’s initiative to expand shelter capacity and increase staffing.

Communal living spaces, such as homeless shelters and encampments, inherently impede the social distancing practices that have been declared a public health imperative at this time. And if the people living in these conditions cannot find safer refuge elsewhere, they pose a COVID-19 risk not only to themselves but to the general community at large. Accordingly, ensuring safe housing for those who are homeless and in a high risk category but not currently ill will require a larger number of units than what is currently proposed.

CCH estimates that over 2,800 units of isolation housing would be needed just for people experiencing homelessness. This response is what is needed to provide shelter for people living on the streets and those who are living in a shelter but remain particularly vulnerable because of their age or underlying health conditions.

“It is critical that we develop a comprehensive, preventative strategy for those that are living on the streets and those most vulnerable in our shelter system,” said Leeanna Majors, a grassroots leader with the coalition. “If we do not, it will be increasingly difficult to flatten the curve. We must also keep in mind that the problem of homelessness existed before this crisis and will continue once it is over, and we need to advance short-term solutions to the crisis at hand without forgetting the need for long-term permanent housing.”

The mayor’s plan includes a significant number of hotel rooms to alleviate the likely influx of people in our hospital system. We urge the city to expand this strategy to house more people experiencing homelessness who lack the resources to safely shelter-in-place and distance, as dictated by Gov. JB Pritzker.

In addition, the city leaders today mentioned offering shelter to those on the street who are highly vulnerable to the virus.  Experience has shown that people living on the street do not want to be in shelters and would be even less likely to accept shelter placement now when social distancing is recommended. The isolation housing strategy needs to include people living on the street to prevent an outbreak at encampments where people are highly vulnerable.

Additional staffing resources are also needed due to a variety of reasons. These include the increasing number of shelter staff not reporting to work, the need to staff for work previously done by volunteers no longer able to help, and the need to keep shelters open 24 hours so that people have somewhere to go during the day. Funding is needed for hazard pay, to hire additional staff, and for personal protective gear.

“We want to work with our partners in government to identify enough housing to meet the scope of the problem and advocate for the necessary funding,” said CCH Executive Director Doug Schenkelberg. “This plan is an important step forward. Let’s build on it.”

Tell Congress to provide for the housing and health needs of people experiencing homelessness

People experiencing homelessness and facing housing instability are already suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. Many are seniors, people with disabilities and/or people with underlying health conditions, making them high-risk populations for the virus. And the federal legislation passed to date has overlooked their critical needs.

Congress must meet the housing and health needs of people experiencing homelessness and housing instability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have the chance to provide for these communities: legislators are currently debating a stimulus relief bill that could include funding for people who need housing. But we need to act now. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to pass legislation through the chamber by the end the day today, Monday, March 23.

Email your legislator TODAY to urge them to take action on behalf of Illinois’ most vulnerable communities:

COVID-19 Response Fund

Many have reached out to learn what they can do to help people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. And while this response is warranted and admirable, CCH ​is joining with many other organizations in closing our office and instructing our staff to stay at home to help reduce the spread of the virus. ​​We also encourage those that are able to do the same.

The region’s health and human service organizations are experiencing a surge in demand for services from neighbors and communities significantly impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. In collaboration with the City of Chicago, The Chicago Community Trust and United Way of Metro Chicago launched the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund to unite the funds raised by Chicago’s philanthropies, corporations and individuals to be disbursed to nonprofit organizations across the region. You can contribute here.

We are continuing to work with our leaders to ensure people experiencing homeless are included in plans to respond to this crisis. On Sunday, CCH sent these recommendations to city, Cook County, and state officials.

Financial support at this time is truly the best option for those willing to help. Supply drives would be difficult to coordinate and inefficient by comparison. Thank you all for your concern. We are truly in this together.

CCH recommendations for state and local government response to COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless sent these recommendations to city, Cook County, and state officials on March 15.

We recognize the scope of this pandemic and the response needed is unprecedented. The homeless advocacy and service community stands ready to work with the city, county, and state government to ensure Illinois’ homeless population receives the care and attention necessary to ensure both their and the broader community’s safety.

These recommendations are based on input from homeless service providers — both shelters and street outreach — as well as community leaders that have experienced homelessness. They also reflect action being taken in other parts of the country to address the particular needs of people experiencing homelessness.

We urge the city of Chicago to immediately identify government resources (city, county, state, federal) to create isolation/prevention housing with supportive services in hotels or federal/military facilities for the following groups:

  • Individuals who are staying on the street during the social distancing period, prioritizing those of vulnerable populations (age 60+ or with underlying health conditions),
  • Individuals staying in shelter, especially large congregate dormitory type settings, or doubling-up and exhibiting symptoms,
  • Individuals of vulnerable populations (age 60+ or with underlying health conditions) staying in shelters, even if they are asymptomatic.
  • Individuals who contracted COVID-19 and are discharged from the hospital, but still need to rehabilitate and/or isolate

In addition, spaces should be held in longer-term shelter programs for those who wish to return to their programs after hospitalization or isolation.

Additional recommendations are provided below.

  • Access to supplies
    • City-coordinated bulk buying of cleaning supplies from manufacturers to distribute to homeless service providers and people experiencing homelessness
    • Provide shelter, outreach, and health care staff with personal protective equipment
  • Educational materials
    • Create physical and e-materials that explain the branches of our local governments, their responsibilities, and the best ways to access, communicate with each entity.  This may include ways to get city alerts and updated county materials
    • Create age and developmentally appropriate health materials for diverse populations.
    • Develop and make widely available a concise list of locations for testing and medical care, and update as needed
  • Staffing concerns
    • Create flexibility in grants so that staff funded through one grant can cover absent staff funded through another grant
    • Move staff between agencies when one facility is low on participants (e.g. child care centers where parents are keeping children at home)
    • Waive DCFS licensing requirements to enable moving staff between programs
    • Create and share a contingency plan in case there are not enough staff able to come in to work to operate a shelter
  • Guidance on outstanding questions
    • If a participant has symptoms but refuses medical care
    • If a shelter resident is identified having COVID-19 and may have infected other staff and residents
    • If drop-in centers should continue all current activities or reduce contacts
  • Impact on future funding
    • Waive city and state grant performance measures for the duration of the pandemic
    • Automatically grant extensions for people who are reaching the end of their stay in time-limited programs
  • Screening measures
    • Create outdoor screening locations before infected people mingle with others in the shelter. Utilize medical student volunteers to staff these locations
    • Help advocate for expanded ability for testing amongst people experiencing homelessness. Current CDPH guidelines are too strict
  • Encampment recommendations
    • Provide educational materials about COVID-19, preventative measures and where to go if you contract the virus
    • Widespread distribution of hand sanitizer, food and water
    • Handwashing stations at all locations where people are living outside (not limited to large encampments)
    • Portable toilets at all locations where people are living outside
    • Suspension of usual street cleaning procedures; limit cleaning to removing garbage; do not require people to move themselves or their belongings; protection of people’s belongings
    • Develop a plan for keeping mobile outreach vehicles clean and sterile while continuing to be able to deliver services
    • Distribute supplies to help those in encampments implement social distancing and self isolation
  • Help advocate for/identify resources
    • Identify and allocate emergency, flexible general operating funding that can be used towards any crisis needs, including, but not limited to:
      • paying for additional staffing,
      • covering expanded paid sick leave,
      • hiring specialized cleaning services,
      • buying cleaning and medical supplies
      • providing food and water
      • providing curtains/dividers at congregate shelters
      • storage containers
      • gender specific hygiene materials
      • additional shelter spaces to increase social distancing especially to reduce the population in large, congregate settings
    • State and County should allocate resources for suburban communities that rely on volunteer churches for shelter.  Provide alternative shelter options such as hotels
    • Identify any available ESG funding to put toward this effort which has been deemed eligible by HUD already
    • Identify support for free, charitable health clinics that are not Federally Qualified Health Centers and will not qualify for federal resources
    • Increase funding for the state Homelessness Prevention Program
  • Support students experiencing homelessness during school closures
    • Provide students and families experiencing homelessness with transportation assistance to get to alternative locations where food is being distributed, or to a school location that is open for students who do not have a safe place to be.
    • Provide students who are homeless additional technology and data support if e-learning is being delivered during the period schools are closed. Completing schoolwork online is obviously difficult for students without access to technology or data plans. Doing schoolwork generally is very challenging in shelters or overcrowded doubled-up situations, where there may not be a suitable place to study.
    • Communicate with students and families to make them aware of food resources, transportation assistance and other support; include these messages in all communication strategies related to school closures, including emails, media, social media and website information
    • Colleges should make clear that students experiencing homelessness or who have no safe place to go may remain in on-campus housing.  In addition they should help to identify grants to help them  buy food
  • Preventive measures in other systems
    • Release those from Cook County Jail who are only there because they cannot afford cash bail
    • Place a moratorium on initiating evictions
    • Call on the CHA the Chicago Low-Income Housing Trust Fund to temporarily halt hearings and paperwork requirements that could lead to tenants losing their housing.
    • Request mortgage companies on the verge of foreclosing on homes of residents to suspend actions that could lead to families already dealing with deficits to lose their homes
    • Promote and support general health screenings beyond COVID-19, to support general immune system health like flu, asthma, early detection of other immune system challenges
    • Work to guarantee that individuals also receive coordinated care for other pre-existing conditions or needs (e.g., medically assisted drug treatment, HARRT medications, HCV meds, etc.) they had prior to the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Create safe and continuing access to public benefits
    • Suspend redeterminations and terminations for programs such as SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid;
    • Expedite approval and suspend terminations for ABD (aged/blind/disabled) Medicaid cases;
    • Request statewide SNAP ABAWD waiver;
    • In order to reduce the need to visit local FCRCs in person, increase access to applications and other case management services over the phone or online, including access to ABE accounts where ID proofing is impossible due to age or lack of credit history of users;
    • Hold DHS appeals and benefits interviews telephonically wherever possible.
    • Expedite unemployment claims determinations



Office closure and advocacy work around COVID-19

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, like most organizations and people throughout the world, is taking the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic seriously. Because we want to ensure the health of staff and everyone we come in contact with, as well as do our part to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, we are taking the following steps:

  • CCH’s offices are closed while the state of Illinois is under shelter-in-place orders. CCH staff is continuing to work and can be reached by email and phone.
  • During this time, CCH is suspending all in-person outreach, including the Youth Futures mobile legal clinic. Our staff continues to meet with clients and grassroots leaders by phone and to hold regular leadership meetings by conference call and Zoom.
  • Prior to reopening our office and restarting outreach, we will evaluate whether this period needs to be extended based on provided guidance.
  • CCH can be reached by phone on its general office line, (312) 641-4140. For people with legal needs, the Law Project can be reached at 1 (800) 940-1119.
  • Resources and notifications for homeless youth can be found on StreetLight Chicago, a free mobile app and website co-managed by CCH.


Chicago Coalition for the Homeless is concerned about the impact of the pandemic on those experiencing homelessness. We are advocating for concrete steps to be taken to ensure they are able to both protect themselves from possible infection and get appropriate treatment if an infection occurs. Chicago and Illinois homeless service providers and outreach workers need adequate guidance and resources in order to do their work during this time. Moreover, policies need to be put in place that halt evictions and provide extra support to those that are precariously housed so homelessness does not increase as a result of this situation.

We will continue to both work with and push the city, county, and state to provide guidance to shelter providers and outreach workers, quickly adopt smart policies, and put in place additional resources to curb the spread of the virus and protect those most in need of protection.

Thank you,

Doug Schenkelberg

Executive Director

Make sure you’re counted in the 2020 census – here’s how

March marks the start of the 2020 Census and CCH is committed to supporting a fair and complete count among Illinoisans experiencing homelessness.

The census counts every single person living in the United States. Everyone counts no matter their housing status, income, age, race, or country of origin. The census happens once every 10 years, so it’s critical to get it right.

Whether you are permanently housed or living on the street, in a shelter, or doubled-up with family or friends, you should be counted!

What’s at stake

Counting every person matters because census data impacts access to important programs and resources in your community:

  • Population counts are used to determine how $675 billion in federal funding is distributed.
  • Without an accurate count, Illinois could lose funding for schools, hospitals, roads and important programs like Medicaid, SNAP, and Section 8 housing vouchers.

The census also determines how much representation you have in Congress:

  • Undercounting leads to homeless individuals and families not being fairly represented in policy-making decisions.
  • When you’re not counted, your community is denied a full voice.
How to get counted in 2020

The census runs from March 12 through July 31. When completing the census form, you’ll note where you are living on April 1.

Are you living in a house or apartment or staying doubled-up at the home of a friend or relative?
  • Between March 12 and March 20, every home will receive a mailing from the U.S. Census Bureau with instructions on how to participate.
  • You can complete the census online, over the phone, or by mail.
  • Every person living in the house should be counted, including family and friends who are residing temporarily or couch surfing.
  • Respond by April 30 to avoid a home visit from a census official.
Are you living in a shelter, on the street, or in a car?
  • Census workers will visit service-based locations (shelters, soup kitchens) to record responses between March 30 and April 1.
  • Non-sheltered outdoor locations such as encampments and underpasses will be counted on April 1.
  • If you are living in a shelter or receive services in the community, talk to staff to confirm when their location will be counted to make sure you’re not missed.
You can still be counted if:
  • You are living doubled-up and were not included on your household’s form for any reason
  • You started staying at a shelter after April 1 and missed the visit from a census worker
  • You are living on the street and a census worker did not find you on April 1

People experiencing homelessness who were not counted through the methods above can still complete a census form online or over the phone. Don’t have access to a computer or phone? Visit your local library and ask a staffer for assistance.

Help us make sure all Illinoisans are counted in the 2020 Census, no matter their housing status:

Questions about the census counting those who are homeless? Contact Gloria Davis, CCH’s Census 2020 Project Manager, or call her at (312) 641-4140.

– Erin Sindewald, Media 









Disappointed by news coverage of a recent city ‘cleanup

CCH Legal Intern Ezra Lintner recently submitted the following letter to the editor to the Chicago Tribune, responding to its coverage. 

Legal staff from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless were onsite February 10 when city of Chicago crews bulldozed the Tent City located near the Dan Ryan Expressway at Roosevelt Road and South DesPlaines.

The conditions that our homeless neighbors living near the Roosevelt exit experience are inhumane: They are living in a society that cannot (or will not) provide them adequate shelter, healthcare, and social services. As a result, they are forced to live in destitute conditions. No human being wants to live in the conditions that we have left our neighbors to – mud, trash pile up, and lack of shelter from the elements.

Cleaning an area inhabited by people in is necessary, as we believe the quotes from Tent City community members in your coverage show. In contrast, waiting a year to clean, and then bringing dozens of city workers and bulldozers to conduct such a cleaning is not necessary.

During our monitoring, we assisted homeless residents distressed that city crews were hauling off their tents and many of their possessions. We helped advocate for one man who had to insist that city crews not confiscate his tent with a bulldozer.

We were deeply disappointed that the Chicago Tribune covered the Monday morning “cleanup” by quoting just one resident who said he supported it. In the course of our time at the Tent City, we spoke with numerous other residents who told us they were scared about losing their tents and possessions in the sub-freezing winter weather. Moreover, we personally witnessed city workers berate residents who tried to salvage their things.

Instead of waiting a year to clean the area, the city should provide portable toilets and dumpsters to help residents keep the area clean.

Bulldozing was unnecessarily destructive, as are most of the Tent City cleanings we’ve monitored. We are saddened but not surprised that it took the presence of two attorneys, a legal intern, and a street organizer to prevent further mistreatment of some of our homeless neighbors by the city of Chicago.

As Lightfoot touts poverty initiative, ideas from people actually experiencing poverty were left out, groups say

On Wednesday, groups led by people living in poverty and pushing for bold solutions to tackle Chicago’s affordable housing crisis and the lack of investment in its neighborhoods, said that Mayor Lori Lightfoot neglected to take their views into account during a much-heralded Poverty Summit she held last week purportedly to address their needs.  

Pointing to Lightfoot’s four-part poverty plan unveiled at the summit, the groups called attention to the fact that the ideas that people experiencing poverty have been promoting for months were absent from the conversation. 

“The people who know what solutions will work to end poverty are those that have been living it every day,” said Colt Seidman, a leader with ONE Northside. “We have been trying to work with Mayor Lightfoot on concrete solutions since last May, but the mayor has neither embraced them nor responded to requests to reach a middle ground.”

Since the beginning of the mayor’s term, community groups and aldermen have been pushing for solutions to address poverty which ensure that those who can afford it, pay their fair share to tackle the city’s problems.  Mayor Lightfoot has ignored, watered down, or outright opposed many of these solutions. For instance, the Bring Chicago Home Coalition has an offer on the table that would give the mayor all the revenue that she is seeking from the Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT), but she has yet to agree to strike a deal with the coalition, despite supporting the coalition’s proposal during her campaign for mayor. Bring Chicago Home is working to raise the RETT on properties over $1 million to generate dedicated funds to address homelessness.

“Our mayor says she wants to end poverty in a generation and collaborate with community groups,” said Craig Nance, a grassroots leader with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. “But the day before her poverty summit, she came out clearly against a compromise proposal that would both close a hole in the city’s budget and significantly reduce the number of Chicagoans experiencing homelessness. She claims it is too much money to spend on one issue. However, if the mayor truly wants bold solutions to poverty, it will require a deep investment in addressing homelessness, an extreme symptom of poverty. She should be jumping on board.” 

In addition, many groups have been working to reform the city’s TIF program to stop giving handouts to big developers and continuing to drive dollars into downtown development, an area that is clearly not blighted.  The Grassroots Collaborative wants to see downtown TIFs shut down and resources spent in neighborhoods where jobs that can lift people out of poverty are lacking. However, there is concern that the mayor’s proposed reforms would loosen restrictions on downtown spending and hand control over decisions about TIFs to a politically connected corporation.

“Ending poverty requires a significant commitment of resources, but when the mayor was asked about this at the summit, she brushed it aside and said it was just a matter of greater fiscal responsibility,” said Veronica Rodriguez of Brighton Park Neighborhood Council. “We strongly disagree. If we want to tackle big problems like the lack of affordable housing and the racial disparities in health in the city, we need progressive revenue solutions and we need to reclaim our property tax dollars in TIF districts for investment in schools and communities that need development.”

The Lift the Ban Coalition is advocating to abolish the state law that bans rent control, a measure that could greatly increase housing affordability in the city.  At a speech at the City Club of Chicago just prior to the summit, Lightfoot affirmed her opposition to this effort claiming it was not the right tool.

The Obama Community Benefits Agreements Coalition has been working for years with community members in the neighborhoods surrounding the Obama Presidential Center. After the coalition introduced a community vetted proposal, the mayor responded by introducing her own watered-down ordinance that ignores the grassroots solutions proposed by those most impacted by the new development.

Members of the community groups present were clear that they stand ready to work with the mayor on solutions to poverty.  But they also were clear that real inclusion of the voices of people living in poverty and paying attention to the solutions they propose were both necessary to getting the job done.

Groups in Attendance:

Brighton Park Neighborhood Council

Bring Chicago Home Coalition

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

Chicago Democratic Socialists of America

Communities United

Grassroots Collaborative

Kenwood Oakland Community Organization

Lift the Ban Coalition

Obama Community Benefits Agreement Coalition 

ONE Northside

Southside Together Organizing for Power

United Working Families


Voting: People experiencing homelessness can register to vote

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

Illinois residents who are homeless have the right to vote in upcoming local, state, and national elections.

If someone lives on the street, in shelters, or doubled-up in the homes of others,  they are considered homeless.

In Illinois, adults can vote on Election Day even if they are not yet registered to vote. Election Day polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Primary Election on Tuesday, March 17 will help decide which candidates appear on the ballot in the General Election on Tuesday, November 3.  This includes some countywide offices, state legislators, U.S. congressional representatives, and presidential nominees.

Illinois uses a closed primary system: Voters must declare party affiliation and will receive one political party’s ballot. The voter then chooses from candidates on their political party’s ballot.

Check online to see if you are already registered: https://ova.elections.il.gov/RegistrationLookup.aspx

You can register to vote on Election Day!

Any Illinois resident can register to vote on Election Day only at the precinct polling place assigned to his/her/their residential mailing address — that is, the address provided on one’s state I.D. or driver’s license.

You are required to bring two (2) forms of identification (ID), including one that shows proof of residence or a mailing address.

What are acceptable forms of ID?

Acceptable forms of ID include mail postmarked to the applicant; an Illinois driver’s license or state ID card; a municipal ID card (for example, the Chicago CityKey); an employee or student ID; Social Security card; birth certificate; credit card; valid U.S. passport; lease or rental contract.

As one form of ID, a homeless person can provide a letter from a drop-in center, shelter, or the person in whose home they are living doubled-up. The letter must confirm that the named person has permission to use their address for the purpose of registering to vote.

People experiencing homelessness can exercise their right to vote, as protected by state and federal laws, including the 2013 Illinois Bill of Rights for the Homeless Act.

To register to vote, you must be a U.S. citizen; at least 18 years old on or before the November 3 General Election; and you cannot claim the right to vote elsewhere.

If you are in pretrial detention and have not been convicted, you remain eligible to vote. But you cannot vote if you are currently incarcerated for a conviction. Learn more about voting in pre-detention.

In Illinois, if you have a driver’s license or state ID card, you can register online until Sunday, March 1 via the Illinois State Board of Elections website.

Key Dates

Can register online until Sunday, March 1, 2020

Early Voting: Monday, March 2 through Monday, March 16, 2020

“Grace Period” Voter Registration & Voting: Wednesday, February 19, 2020 through Election Day, Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Election Day Registration & Voting (Call local election office): Tuesday, March 17, 2020

When is ID needed and not needed to vote?

Identification is not necessary if the homeless voter has already registered to vote at the polling place; the signature s/he/they provides matches the one on file; and an election judge does not challenge the person’s right to vote.

But identification is necessary if the homeless voter faces these situations:

– S/he/they registered by mail and did not include the Illinois ID/driver’s license number or Social Security number.

– An election judge challenges the person’s right to vote. Please note: A common reason for challenging a person’s right to vote occurs after the Board of Elections has sent mail to verify a voter’s mailing address, but the mail was returned.

– If a voter needs to show ID but cannot present ID, s/he/they may cast a provisional ballot. In order for that provisional ballot to be counted, the voter must present ID within seven (7) days of the election to the Board of Election.

Voting after a recent move, whether homeless or housed

If you moved within the same precinct within 27 days of the election, you can vote a full ballot by signing an affidavit.

If you moved outside of your precinct more than 30 days before the election and did not register in your new precinct, you may grace-period update your registration through Election Day, and then grace-period vote.

If you moved outside of your precinct less than 30 days before the election, but still live in Illinois and did not transfer your registration, you may grace-period update your registration to your new address through Election Day and grace-period vote. Or, you can vote a full ballot in your old polling place after completing an affidavit.

For Election Day assistance, call these legal help desks:

– Chicago Board of Elections, (312) 269-7870

– Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough, (312) 603-0236

– Illinois State Board of Elections has phone numbers in Chicago at (312) 814-6440, and in Springfield at (217) 782-4141. Operators will be standing by until 11 p.m in Chicago and until 12 midnight in Springfield.