Climb for a cause on April 16

photo of a person on a climbing wall. Words on the image read: CCH on the Rocks, April 16, 2022. Brooklyn Boulders, Lincoln Park."

The Associate Board of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless will once again host an afternoon of indoor rock climbing at the Brooklyn Boulders at the Lincoln Park location (2121 N. Clybourn). 

The event runs from 3 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 16.  Tickets are $30 per person and can be purchased here. $20 of each ticket goes to support CCH’s mission to prevent and end homelessness.

Included with the ticket is an instructional demonstration by the venue staff and all the necessary gear for the climb. Guests are welcome to bring their own beverages to be consumed after the climb. This event happens rain or shine because it is indoors!

CCH’s Associate Board has been active since 2008, staging fundraising events to support CCH’s mission and spreading awareness of the work that CCH does.  Anyone interested in learning more about how to become involved with the efforts of the Associate Board is welcome to contact the membership co-chairs through this interest form.  

Springfield advocacy: CCH’s 2022 state legislative agenda

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

This year the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) is advocating for several statewide measures that would remove barriers for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. CCH policy and organizing staff, along with our grassroots leaders, are leading efforts to pass four bills that will impact students experiencing homelessness, extremely low-income families and children, and people using rental assistance or housing vouchers.

CCH is advocating for the following legislation: 

HB 5265: Financial Equity in Education for Students (FEES)

Illinois school districts are permitted to charge students and their families annual mandatory fees. Fees can include textbooks, instructional materials, and school activities. These fees can add up quickly, putting a strain on low-income parents and guardians who are trying to make ends meet. Fortunately, public school students experiencing homelessness or whose families are classified as low-income have access to fee waivers. Charter schools are obligated to waive fees for students who are experiencing homelessness under the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act but are not required to waive fees for low-income students and their families. 

HB 5265 will create parity between students at public schools and charter schools to ensure students and families living in poverty are not burdened by financial barriers to their educations. 

Continue reading Springfield advocacy: CCH’s 2022 state legislative agenda

Learn about our recent victories in our 2021 Annual Report

CCH grassroots leaders and staff, clad in bright yellow CCH t-shirts, standing with fists raised in front of the Illinois state capitol building. Text includes the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless logo and the words 2021 Annual Report.

We are grateful for the strong coalition of people with lived experience, community members, direct-service and advocacy organizations, institutional partners, donors, and volunteers who are working every single day to prevent and end homelessness.

Five blocks in a row. Block 1: Photo of a young woman wearing a hijab, standing, speaking to a Black woman in a trucker hat, seated. Block 2: Blue square that reads: 3,000 people who experienced homelessness were reached by our community organizers and legal aid attorneys. Block 3: photo of a white man speaking to a crowd with a bullhorn. The man is wearing a yellow t-shirt with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless logo. Block 4: Blue square that reads: 408 legal aid cases were closed by the Law Project, representing 319 clients. Block 5: two young women with brown hair from behind, seated in front of a laptop.

Strong community support contributed to CCH’s many accomplishments over the last year. Read more about our shared victories during Calendar Year 2021 in our annual report.

Blue box with white letters: Read our annual report now

Have a cannabis conviction in Illinois? You may be eligible for expungement. 

By Arturo Hernandez, Senior Attorney 

By now, many people are probably aware that recreational cannabis use is legal in Illinois. The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA) legalized the use of recreational cannabis beginning January 1, 2020. The Act also established new ways for people with cannabis-related records to clear their records and work in the cannabis industry.  

New Leaf Illinois logo with quote from client: "I was so apprehensive about my future because of my legal record. But after talking with New Leaf, I got the info and motivation to move forward	 and put it behind me.” – New Leaf Client.

Cannabis Expungement 

The Law Project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless provides free legal representation to those wishing to expunge their records as a proud partner in New Leaf Illinois.   

New Leaf Illinois is a statewide network of legal aid organizations that provide services to assist individuals with expunging their cannabis records and other legal services.  

For questions about expunging cannabis records or to see if you may be eligible, visit the New Leaf Illinois website or call the New Leaf Illinois hotline at (855) 963-9532.

Continue reading Have a cannabis conviction in Illinois? You may be eligible for expungement. 

Take Action for Illinois Families

The Illinois House Appropriations-Human Services Committee will vote on HB4423 this Thursday, February 24 at 8 a.m.

HB4423 would support families living in extreme poverty by increasing the cash assistance families receive each month. This increase would ensure families are able to meet their basic needs including paying rent, purchasing clothing, hygiene products, and maintaining transportation. This legislation would also ensure that when a noncustodial parent pays child support that the money goes directly to the family. Currently, the state and federal government are given a portion of the child support payment.

Please file a witness slip on behalf of your organization or yourself to indicate your support for an increase in the TANF Cash Grant amount and ensure that child support payments go directly to the child.

How to fill out the online witness slip: 

  1. Go to this link.
  2. If you can file a slip on behalf of your organization, include your organization name under “Representation.” If you do not represent a firm or organization, please write “NA” in the Firm/Business Or Agency and Title fields and “Self” under Representation. 
  3. To indicate your support of the bill, please click “Proponent.”
  4. Under Testimony, select “Record of Appearance Only.”
  5. Agree to the Terms of Agreement and click on the “Create(Slip)” button.

Bill that would create parity for charter school students moves forward with bipartisan support

UPDATE: Thanks to the shared advocacy of our community, Facilitating Equity in Education for Students (FEES) (House Bill 5265) was moved out of committee with unanimous, bipartisan support on February 16. Sixty-five people submitted witness slips as proponents of the bill.

Representative Will Guzzardi, CCH Grassroots Leader and Board Member Maxica Williams, and CCH Education Attorney Alyssa Phillips testified at the hearing. CCH is grateful to be one step closer to ensuring every student in Illinois has access to a free and comprehensive education.  

Read our fact sheet on HB5265 here.

Photo of grassroots leader April Harris, smiling from her neck up. April is quoted: “Waivers at charter
schools prevent students from falling through the cracks and help students stay focused on their academics and not their current situation. It is important for students to feel that they matter and that they’re not forgotten during difficult times.”
Grassroots Leader and Outreach Assistant April Harris

Continue reading Bill that would create parity for charter school students moves forward with bipartisan support

CCH statement on Gov. Pritzker’s State of the State speech

“The measure of any society is how willing we are to care for those who need us.” 

Today in Springfield, Governor Pritzker began his 2022 Budget Address and State of the State with this statement from Margaret Mead, noting that this ethos has guided him and his administration as they have governed through the ravages of the pandemic.  

The Governor’s proposal for the Fiscal Year 2023 budget strives to “protect the most vulnerable” and, on many fronts, it does just that. We understand that Illinois’ fiscal outlook continues to improve. With that positive direction, Illinois should look at this moment as an opportunity to invest in our lowest-income residents, particularly individuals and families who experience housing insecurity. 

Continue reading CCH statement on Gov. Pritzker’s State of the State speech

Photographer Jeffrey Wolin unveils new project: Faces of Homelessness

Photographer Jeffrey Wolin’s work has spanned from documenting Holocaust survivors to Vietnam war veterans, and he has now turned his camera towards Chicago’s unhoused population. He has called West Town his home for nearly 10 years, and he is now debuting a project about unhoused community members, Faces of Homelessness.  

The work is currently on display at the Catherine Edelman Gallery at 1637 W. Chicago Ave. through February 15. And on Tuesday, February 8, CCH is hosting a virtual panel with the Chicago Public Library featuring Wolin, CCH Executive Director Doug Schenkelberg, Alderperson Matt Martin of Chicago’s 47th Ward and two photography subjects, Ronald Matthews and Melodi Serna. 

Continue reading Photographer Jeffrey Wolin unveils new project: Faces of Homelessness

CCH Mutual Aid Fund reopened for third round of grants

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless’ Fund will provide $500 grants to 120 households that are or at-risk of becoming homeless. 

Updated February 8 – Responding to continued community need, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) reopened applications to the CCH Mutual Aid Fund for another round of 120 grants. The Fund will provide direct cash support of $500 to Illinois residents in need.  

Applications were open Tuesday, February 1, and the 250-application cap was reached within two hours. 

Continue reading CCH Mutual Aid Fund reopened for third round of grants

CCH method for quantifying doubled-up homelessness published in leading housing policy journal

By Sam Carlson, Manager of Research and Outreach 

On Monday, Housing Policy Debate published CCH research on quantifying doubled-up homelessness, adding credibility to the years-long Homelessness Data Project research on measures of homelessness. 

Many definitions of homelessness include “people temporarily staying with others”—doubling-up because of economic hardship or housing loss. Temporarily staying with others can have negative consequences that should be addressed, but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s methods for enumerating homelessness exclude these arrangements, and Department of Education counts of doubling-up include only school children.  

Continue reading CCH method for quantifying doubled-up homelessness published in leading housing policy journal