Bring Chicago Home: Homeless advocates denounce Ald. O’Connor’s misrepresentations; say he was instrumental in delaying bid for ballot referendum

After motion to stall public hearing on the measure appeared to fail, O’Connor permitted repeated votes until it passed. 

A coalition backing a proposal to alleviate Chicago’s pervasive homelessness problem vehemently disputed Alderman Patrick’s O’Connor’s self-aggrandizing announcement today that he honored his “commitment” to the group, and instead said that he mounted a strenuous – and possibly improper – effort to derail their bid.

On Monday, March 11, in what appeared to be an act of parliamentary mischief aimed at stalling the proposal to expand funding for homelessness relief, the City Council’s Finance Committee, which O’Connor chairs, repeatedly strayed from proper procedures – and even misrepresented the results of a key vote – in order to delay a public hearing on the measure, according to representatives of the Bring Chicago Home campaign.

Nonetheless, O’Connor claimed in a link posted on Twitter that he “fulfilled my commitment to the Bring Chicago Home Coalition and the coalition of groups seeking to end homelessness in Chicago.”

In fact, the coalition said he played an instrumental role in thwarting a bid to conduct a public hearing on Monday regarding a resolution that would have authorized a March 2020 ballot referendum on whether the city should raise a one-time tax on the sale of properties worth more than $1 million to fund programs that combat homelessness.  Instead, Alderman Brendan Reilly disputed whether the Finance Committee was the proper jurisdiction, arguing that the ballot measure should be considered in the Rules Committee. However, unlike most ballot measures, the Bring Chicago Home proposal would have a legal effect and an impact on the city’s finances and should arguably be considered by the Finance Committee.

Continue reading Bring Chicago Home: Homeless advocates denounce Ald. O’Connor’s misrepresentations; say he was instrumental in delaying bid for ballot referendum

CCH monitors Monday’s Tent City cleanup

Updated: Chicago Coalition for the Homeless had four staff members on site Monday to monitor the clean-up of a homeless encampment known as Tent City, located along the Dan Ryan Expressway near the 700 block of West Taylor.

Notices posted last week announced plans to clean the South Loop site Monday morning. City crews arrived about 10 a.m. and left about 1 p.m.  Also on site were representatives from three city agencies – Chicago Police, Streets and Sanitation, and the Department of Family and Support Services – as well as Illinois State Police.

No representatives from the Illinois Department of Transportation were present, despite posted signage that IDOT would be part of the cleaning.

Residents were not required to remove their belongings Monday. CCH will continue to monitor the situation at the encampment, with indications that the city plans ongoing activity at the site.

On Feb. 18, a Tent City man was shot and killed at the encampment. Another male resident, also 57, was charged. Cleaning notices were posted last week.

CCH attorneys and organizers were at the encampment to monitor that residents’ rights were not violated under the guise of cleaning. Residents and advocates were concerned there might be a group eviction after the cleaning, as city officials have done at other Chicago encampments, including Lower Wacker last June and at viaducts around the city.

Twenty to 30 people appear to live at the Tent City encampment. Several other organizations showed up to assist residents, including Featherfist, Haymarket Center, Pilsen Alliance, and Thresholds.

“The city or state should not punish people for being homeless,” said CCH Community Lawyer Diane O’Connell. “Displacing residents of the Tent City would only cause more harm to some of the most vulnerable in our city.”

Chicago Tribune, Feb. 26: Residents of ‘Tent City’ fear eviction after city, state crews arrive to clean the area

Chicago Sun-Times, Feb. 25: Homeless allowed to stay at South Loop ‘Tent City’ – for now

Chicago Sun-Times, Feb. 20: Could ‘Tent City’ be shut down? Advocates fear for homeless as city plans cleanup

2019 Mayoral Candidates Voter Guide

NOTE: The voter guide has been updated to correct an earlier inaccuracy. 

A five-question questionnaire was sent to all 2019 Chicago mayoral candidates. We received responses from seven candidates: Bill Daley, Amara Enyia, LaShawn Ford, Lori Lightfoot, Susana Mendoza, Toni Preckwinkle, and Willie Wilson. The full voter guide can be found here.

The purpose of this voter guide is to educate voters impartially on a nonpartisan basis. As a 501(c)(3) organization, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless does not intend to advance the electoral interests of some candidates or to disparage others. Continue reading 2019 Mayoral Candidates Voter Guide

CCH statement on Gov. Pritzker’s first state budget address

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) applauds Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s recognition that addressing homelessness and the issues related to homelessness are core to the work of Illinois. Now we need to work with his administration to put the dollars behind this priority.

The governor’s budget proposes $5.15 million in funding for homeless prevention grants, a $250,000 or 5% increase. This modest increase does not bring funding for this critical program – which keeps people from ever entering into homelessness – back up to the $11 million level that it was once at. Still, it is a clear recognition that this is both a smart preventive program and solid investment for our state. CCH and our partners will continue to advocate with the governor and the legislature to increase funding back to $11 million.

Gov. Pritzker also spoke to the need for a new capital budget to address Illinois’ infrastructure needs. Permanent supportive housing is a critical piece of Illinois’ infrastructure. Any capital plan should include a $1 billion investment in supportive housing.

In addition, CCH has been in the fight to raise the hourly minimum wage to $15 for many years. Many people experiencing homelessness are working in low-wage jobs and cannot afford a home. Living-wage work is a critical tool for both preventing and ending homelessness. We thank Gov. Pritzker and the legislators who voted to raise the minimum wage for backing real policy change that will improve the lives of thousands of Illinoisans.

Finally, we appreciate the governor’s focus on long-term solutions to the state’s structural deficit. CCH agrees that Illinois should establish a graduated income tax to increase state revenue and allow the state to begin to rebuild the human services infrastructure so everyone in Illinois has true access to opportunity.

– Niya K. Kelly, State Legislative Director

CCH attorneys co-edit new ABA book, ‘Educating Students Experiencing Homelessness’

Beth Malik and Patricia Nix-Hodes (Photo by Claire Sloss)

The Law Project’s Patricia Nix-Hodes and Beth Malik are co-editors of Educating Students Experiencing Homelessness, an American Bar Association book for educators, advocates and policymakers.

The revised fifth edition addresses federal educational mandates related to homeless students under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act.

“We are excited about the release of this book. It is an important tool to raise awareness and share information about the critical legal rights of students who are homeless. Education is a solution to homelessness and this book will help ensure that more homeless students succeed in school,” said Ms. Nix-Hodes, director of the Law Project.

The ABA manual offers innovative strategies and resources for educators and school administrators, state coordinators and policymakers, advocates and attorneys to ensure the educational rights of children and youth who experience homelessness.

The 136-page book includes chapters covering young children, youth, students living in foster care, disabled students, youth pursuing higher education, and the impact of prior litigation.

Three-fourths of legal aid clients served by the CCH Law Project are homeless students and youth, according to Ms. Malik, associate legal director and CCH’s lead youth attorney. The Law Project serves more than 500 homeless Chicago area clients each year.

Laurene Heybach, the founding former director of the Law Project, co-authored the first four editions of this respected ABA guidebook.

A portion of proceeds from the sale of the book provide supports the youth leadership and scholarship program at SchoolHouse Connection, a national organization whose director is among the book’s seven co-editors.

The $14.95 book can be ordered from the ABA.

– Anne Bowhay, Media

Effect of the recent government shutdown on Illinois SNAP recipients

By Tanya Gassenheimer, Youth Health Attorney

Updated Feb. 14

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has announced it will issue all SNAP assistance for March on March 1, 2019, no matter when in the month households usually receive their food benefits.

The recent federal government shutdown caused Illinois to issue its February SNAP assistance by January 20, 2019. With the government’s reopening last month, funding for March was secured.

Issuance of April and May assistance will depend on the federal government’s actions in coming days, but as of now, IDHS plans to issue April assistance between April 1 and April 10. It also plans to issue May assistance on households’ regular schedules. CCH will continue to monitor the situation and post updates.

SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, provides low-income households with a monthly amount of money that can be used only for groceries. The money is provided through an EBT or LINK card. For low-income individuals and families, SNAP can be the difference between housing maintenance and homelessness. For those already experiencing homelessness, receiving SNAP assistance in a timely fashion is a matter of basic survival.

Despite assurance of funding for March, the federal government shutdown’s impact on SNAP households remains significant. Due to the early issuance of February assistance, Illinois SNAP households experienced a gap of at least 39 days between receiving assistance in late January (for February) and receiving assistance on March 1 (for March). The law requires that no SNAP household experience a gap in issuance of more than 40 days. For more details, refer to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ latest update.

Continue reading Effect of the recent government shutdown on Illinois SNAP recipients

Kudos Corner – with thanks to our business donors

Celebrating with Call One staff

By Michael Nameche, Director of Development

We have so many generous business donors to thank this winter!

First, CCH would like to humbly thank the staff of Call One, Inc. for choosing to support our work for a second year.

Call One staffers raised an impressive $25,360 during 2018 through a variety of fundraisers, including its annual Caddyshack golf outing.

Another partnership that dates back over a decade is Zumiez. The apparel company donates several pallets of new winter coats and outwear to CCH each year. We have come to rely on their generosity to help hundreds of people each winter with whom we outreach in Chicago area shelters.

The same can be said of Blistex, Inc., which each year gives a combination of money and products for distribution, including lip balm and foot cream.

The retail store, That’s Our Bag, is another annual donor that we are always happy to hear from as they give us new travel bags every year.

We were proud to take on new partnerships this winter season as well. The good people from Chance the Rapper’s charity, SocialWorks, invited CCH to bring homeless families to two of their signature Warmest Winter events – A Night at The Museum and the Taste for the Homeless.

Another great partnership in the works – the newly emerging non-profit GiveNkind, which matches up donations of valuable products and goods to non-profits that needs them. Through their efforts, CCH was able to give out over 100 portable cell phone battery chargers.

Boxes of beautiful hat, glove and scarf sets were donated by staff of the National Black MBA Association‘s Chicago chapter office.

Furious Spoon gave furiously when its celebrated ramen restaurants generously raised $6,000 to support CCH’s work this season.

Also on the culinary front, Captain Porky’s seafood and barbecue eatery in suburban Wadsworth donated a share of their sales during the Polar Vortex. The results were almost $1,000!

Local brewery Goose Island is looking to settle a debate on whether Chicagoans are more Pro-Dibs or Anti-Dibs by releasing a special beer in two distinct cans.  A portion of the profits will benefit our work, with a Feb. 2 event raising $1,085 for CCH.

And coming up: On Saturday, February 23, Empty Bottle at 1035 N. Western Ave., will collect donations on behalf of CCH at its annual Music Frozen Dancing Winter Block Party.

Join CCH at Dear Evan Hansen!

We’re selling out our last 20 tickets to Dear Evan Hansen on February 28!

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless is excited to partner with Broadway in Chicago again to bring you exclusive ticket access to the critically-acclaimed Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen.

Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 7:30 p.m., Oriental Theatre (24 W. Randolph Street)

Purchase Dear Evan Hansen tickets here.

These are Loge/Dress Circle seats. When you buy tickets through the provided link, 36% of the ticket price is a tax-deductible donation to CCH to help further our mission.

Chicago promises extra outreach and shelter capacity during polar vortex; available resources

(Updated) As the Midwest braces for a polar vortex, Chicago officials promise extra outreach and shelter capacity to assist homeless people, knowing they face life-threatening conditions in harsh weather.

It’s proving a stark reminder that, as a prosperous city, we must do something substantial to end the homelessness that impacts more than 80,000 children, youth and adults in Chicago.

“The steps that the city of Chicago and its partners are taking to provide shelter and warmth to people experiencing homelessness in this weather are critical,” said Executive Director Doug Schenkelberg.

“I hope the sense of urgency that is being felt now continues past this moment, so that those in power put the funding in place to provide the permanent housing our city needs so that no one is forced to be homeless in any type of weather.”

Continue reading Chicago promises extra outreach and shelter capacity during polar vortex; available resources

Bring Chicago Home: Advocates call on city to prioritize aid for homeless people after court permits their ouster from public property

City defends controversial tactics targeting homeless people, even as it opposes a measure to reduce homelessness by 35,000 in 10 years

Chicago officials should focus on adequately funding support for victims of homelessness, rather than concocting ploys to purge them from the public view, advocates said Tuesday, after a Cook County judge permitted the city to clear out viaducts used as shelter by homeless people under the guise of improving infrastructure.

On Friday, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Celia Gamrath dismissed a lawsuit arguing the city had unlawfully discriminated against homeless people in 2017 when it redesigned the sidewalks under two viaducts in the Uptown neighborhood in order to prevent them from sleeping there. The city demolished the encampments purportedly so it could convert the sidewalk space where they resided into bike lanes – a quest that deviated from its own conventions for transportation planning.

Continue reading Bring Chicago Home: Advocates call on city to prioritize aid for homeless people after court permits their ouster from public property