Now recruiting Chicago Marathon runners

CCH is proud to be an affiliate charity for the 2020 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, October 11, 2020. We are now recruiting our next Team to End Homelessness, offering a limited number of guaranteed entries to the race.

Runners who join our team before December 3, 2019 will be required to set a $1,250 minimum fundraising goal, to be raised online in conjunction with their race training. Those who join our team after December 3 will be required to set a $1,750 minimum fundraising goal.

Benefits of joining our team include:

  • Free guaranteed entry into the 2020 Bank of America Chicago Marathon
  • Moisture-wicking team shirt
  • Race day location near the start gate, with private bag check, bathrooms, and refreshments
  • Team building events, including a pre-race pasta party
  • Virtual coaching during training months
  • Discounted in-person training
  • Team email updates
  • Personal fundraising page and fundraising support from CCH staff
  • The opportunity to support CCH’s mission to prevent and end homelessness

If interested in joining our team for the 2020 race, please contact Claire Sloss at csloss@chicagohomeless.org or complete this interest form.

CCH champions a complete census count

The 2020 Census is almost here, and CCH is helping ensure that homeless children, youth, and adults across Illinois are counted. As one of 42 partner organizations with Forefront’s IL Count Me In 2020 program, CCH is providing outreach and education to support a fair and accurate count among hard-to-count communities.

Our message? People experiencing homelessness count, too!

As part of this initiative, CCH organizers and attorneys are providing census education at shelters, schools, drop-in centers, and events across Chicago in the months leading up to Census Day on April 1, 2020. This includes targeted outreach to homeless families, students, unaccompanied youth, and single adults; promoting the census to shelter providers; and distributing outreach materials. Between now and March 2020, we anticipate educating about 750 homeless people and 850 service providers as well as distributing more than 7,000 census-related handouts.

Our focus? To emphasize why a complete count is critical and inform people how to participate if they’re homeless.

The U.S. Census Bureau invites most households to respond through the mail, but the process looks different for those without a permanent roof over their heads. To make sure this hard-to-count group isn’t overlooked, CCH staff created a census fact sheet that is tailored specifically for people experiencing homelessness.

This piece covers all the basics: what the census is, when it’s happening, and why it matters. It also outlines the steps a homeless person can take to make sure they’re counted, whether they are living in a shelter, on the street, or doubling-up with a friend or relative.

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

Questions about the census? Contact Gloria Davis, our Census 2020 Project Manager, at gloria@chicagohomeless.org or (312) 641-4140.

– Erin Sindewald, Media

Alyssa Phillips is CCH’s new Education Attorney

From left, leader Bridgette Barber, Education Attorney Alyssa Phillips, and Organizer Bisma Shoukat at a CPS back-to-school training. (Photo by Claudia Cabrera)

I am thrilled to assume my new position as education attorney with the Law Project at CCH. I run outreach, professional training, and legal clinics on the educational rights of students who experience homelessness. These are offered at school and community venues throughout the Chicago area, focusing on suburban Cook County and the collar counties. I also run monthly legal clinics at the Waukegan Public Library, Family Resource Center in BolingbrookWayside Shelter in Elgin, and family shelters in the Chicago area  

I help our staff of six attorneys provide legal aid to homeless children, youth, and families on school-related matters. Issues include immediate enrollment, school discipline, special education services, preschool access, transportation, and school fee waivers. I also assist clients in disputes over the rights and services to which homeless students are entitled under state and federal law. 

In September, I concluded a two-year fellowship at CCH – the second Equal Justice Works fellow assigned to CCH in five years. My project was to advocate and provide legal assistance focused on the educational rights of homeless students, including new outreach sites in the suburbs. I closed 143 educational rights cases in two years. The cases included transportation, enrollment, preschool access, and school fee waiver issues.  

While attending Notre Dame law school, I spent a summer at CCH interning through the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI). I also interned another summer at the Chicago Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. For both internships I conducted case intakes and outreach to homeless youth. I also drafted a memo that led to Illinois state agencies releasing guidelines that clarified unaccompanied youth are eligible for SNAP food benefits.  

  I am excited to continue advocating for the educational rights of families and children experiencing homeless. Education plays a significant role in ending homelessness. Quality and appropriate education provides consistency, resources, and a social network for students. For students experiencing homelessness, school might be the only space that feels familiar to them and the only place they know they will receive support, including regular meals.  

 The CCH model of combining advocacy, community education, and direct representation is incredibly impactful in addressing systemic barriers for people experiencing homelessness. I am honored to be given the opportunity to work for an organization that works tirelessly for the rights of students, youth, families, and adults who are coping with homelessness.  

Alyssa Phillips, EJW Fellow Interview (February 2019)

October 21 benefit concert for CCH honors the late Rob Warmowski, musician and friend to those who were homeless

More than 40 Chicago punk, prog, noise, rock, and surf musicians, including current and former members of PiL, Pegboy, Naked Raygun, and Local H, will perform an October 21 memorial concert at Metro, raising money for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

The Rob Warmowski Memorial: A Benefit for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless will honor the lifelong Chicagoan who was a fixture on the local music scene since forming the surf-punk band The Defoliants in 1984. Rob died last month after a brief illness.

Musician and audio engineer Steve Albini will emcee the evening. Pegboy, Cheer-Accident, ONO, Silver Abuse, Watchmen, 007, and Dummy will perform, along with Rob’s own bands, The Defoliants, Buzzmuscle, SIRS, and San Andreas Fault.

When: Monday, October 21, 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Where: Metro,  3730 N. Clark Street, Chicago

The evening will feature a DJ set by Scary Lady Sarah and a performance by the jazz band at Mather High School, Rob’s alma mater. Also performing will be special guests Martin Atkins of PiL and Pigface, Eric Spicer of Naked Raygun, and Scott Lucas of Local H and The Married Men. Metro owner Joe Shanahan is providing use of the iconic music hall.

Rob Warmowski

Rob Warmowski was 52 when he died on Sept. 1, following a short illness. After breaking onto the Chicago 1980s punk rock scene with his band The Defoliants, he went on to form several other music projects over the next four decades. His most recent was San Andreas Fault, a surf-noir band.

Rob’s widow, Maureen Sullivan, planned the memorial to celebrate her husband’s life and work while raising money for a cause he cared deeply about – homelessness in Chicago.

A sound technician who worked at the Chicago Cultural Center, Rob saw the enormity of Chicago’s homelessness crisis as he walked downtown. He would often stop to talk with the unhoused people he met, helping them with cash, food, and other assistance.

Rob was grew up in the city’s Rogers Park neighborhood. He later lived in the South Side Bridgeport neighborhood for 28 years, where his wife Maureen was born and raised. In addition to his musical legacy, Rob wrote frequently about sports and labor issues, running the popular Twitter accounts @whitesoxski and @ScabbyTheRat

The Rob Warmowski Memorial: A Benefit for the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless is an all-ages, donation-based event with a cash bar. All proceeds go to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. For more information, please visit https://www.facebook.com/events/492048414860791/?ti=icl

If you’re unable to attend and would like to make a donation visit https://tinyurl.com/CelebrateRobW

Chicago Sun-Times: Rob Warmowski, dead at 52, started surf-punk band The Defoliants, also played with Buzzmuscle, SIRS

Alex finds her voice

Helped by a scholarship from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, this fall Alexandria Bolling starts her freshman year at Howard University, her dream school. Alex is studying to become a teacher, another dream she has held for as long as she can remember.

But her journey has not been easy.

Originally from southeast Louisiana, Alex’s parents split when she was four, leaving her mother to raise Alex, her twin sister, and two brothers on her own. Soon after, Hurricane Katrina destroyed the family’s apartment and most of their belongings. They bounced around relatives’ homes until her mother could get them back on their feet.

“My mom was always socially conscious and demanded the best of ourselves,” Alex recalled. “She taught us to have a voice of our own.” But Alex was shy, more observant: “I liked to hear what other people had to say.”

When she was 14, Alex made the difficult choice to leave home, moving north to Evanston for better educational opportunities. Money was tight – she stayed with an aunt and seven younger cousins – but the change in academic environment proved beneficial.

It was at her new school that Alex began to speak up, and her passion for social justice was ignited. Class discussions around social issues were encouraged: “I learned what it means to fight for what’s right.” She joined the Debate Team, serving as captain her senior year.

“Debate opened my world to who I could be when advocating for others,” Alex said. She competed around the country, championing mock legislation to support youth programs. She spearheaded a group for classmates of color to share their experiences. She participated in a school walkout against gun violence.

But the summer before her junior year, financial challenges caused her aunt to be evicted from their Evanston home. Alex was forced to double-up with relatives on the far South Side of Chicago. Her commute to school topped three hours round trip, involving two buses and a train. This took away valuable study time and made getting to school on time challenging. She lost friends and her grades suffered.

“Homelessness broke my confidence,” Alex said. “It took a toll on me emotionally. I struggled to keep up a level of scholarship that I felt I was capable of.”

Despite these challenges, Alex persevered. She continued to make the honor roll. She participated in Evanston Scholars, a college readiness program. She worked as a counselor for a camp serving homeless children. And after years of struggle, she is proud to be attending an historically black university, like her mother did.

“Homelessness doesn’t have to keep you from succeeding,” she said. But support is crucial.

Alex credits her mother and her Evanston Scholars mentor for their guidance, as well as a teacher that showed empathy for her situation. “When I came to class really late, instead of scolding me, she got me caught up right away,” said Alex. “She prioritized my success and education over my tardiness.”

As a future educator, Alex seeks to do the same.

“There’s more to education than the textbooks and history lessons,” she said. “It’s a community inside a classroom.”

And her wish for her future students? “I want them to find happiness and peace, no matter what they’re going through.”

– Story by Erin Sindewald

– Photos by Claire Sloss

A record set, with thanks to Riot Fest

For the eighth year in a row, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless was honored to be a part of Riot Fest, held in Douglas Park on September 13, 14 & 15.  The Riot Fest staff has been staunch supporters of our work since 2012, and this partnership has helped CCH raise over $200,000 to fulfill our mission.

We could not be more grateful to Team Riot Fest, the artists that donated prizes, and to the wonderful volunteers that helped out this year!

CCH’s tent was stuffed to the rafters with prizes to win – over 90 in all.  Headliners among the raffle prize inventory were the 11 autographed guitars, signed by such veteran acts like Bad Religion, Social Distortion, and the Violent Femmes. Continue reading A record set, with thanks to Riot Fest

Bring Chicago Home: Aldermen denounce the high number of homeless CPS students on the South Side and West Side, call on Mayor Lightfoot to support an immediate solution

As another school year begins this week, data released today shows that homelessness remains a major issue for students in Chicago’s public education system — particularly in wards with predominantly African American populations. This data has prompted several aldermen with the highest numbers of homeless students in their wards to urge Mayor Lori Lightfoot to support a dedicated funding stream to combat the problem.

Alderman Walter Burnett – Photos by Sam Carlson

“Everyone is very concerned about the budget deficit right now and I am as well,” said Alderman Walter Burnett (27th Ward). “But the underfunding of housing and support services that has left thousands of children in our schools homeless is also part of our budget hole. It is time to make addressing homelessness a priority in our city and in our budget.”

Continue reading Bring Chicago Home: Aldermen denounce the high number of homeless CPS students on the South Side and West Side, call on Mayor Lightfoot to support an immediate solution

Going to Riot Fest? Stop by the CCH tent in Douglas Park to win signed music memorabilia

For the eighth year, CCH is proud to be a charity partner of Riot Fest, a three day music festival and carnival held in Chicago’s Douglas Park.

This year’s festival runs Friday, September 13 through Sunday, September 15.  Tickets are still available at www.riotfest.org

Here is a map of where to find our tent! Continue reading Going to Riot Fest? Stop by the CCH tent in Douglas Park to win signed music memorabilia

Chicago schools reopen Tuesday: Free CTA rides, legal aid available for homeless families facing school issues

To encourage attendance when Chicago Public Schools reopen this Tuesday, September 3, the CTA is again offering free rides to school for all CPS students. Students and adults accompanying them can ride for free on the first day of classes.

As always, the Law Project at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless will offer free legal aid and advice to city and suburban families and students experiencing homelessness if they encounter issues upon their return to school. Those recognized as homeless includes households living in shelters or doubled-up in someone else’s home.

Common issues include being allowed to remain in the original school attended before becoming homeless, being allowed to enroll in the school nearest where you now live, or being recognized as homeless and entitled to transportation assistance. Continue reading Chicago schools reopen Tuesday: Free CTA rides, legal aid available for homeless families facing school issues