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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2023 – 2

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

Cash Assistance is Key to Ending Poverty for Families in Need 

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a program that gives monthly cash grants to children and their families in need. Families use it to pay rent, utilities, clothing, hygiene products, diapers, and transportation. Families that qualify for TANF are the poorest of the poor. Though families qualify for TANF almost a third decide not to apply because of the barriers they face throughout the process.  CCH, along with our advocacy partners, are working to make TANF a workable program for all.   

Jump to a section:

2018: COIN (Creating Opportunities for Illinoisans in Need) Act 

During the 2018 legislative session, the Creating Opportunities for Illinoisans in Need (COIN) Act was passed. This began years of action and impact to come. 

The COIN Act raised Temporary Assistance for Needy Families cash assistance for the first time in a decade.  

The COIN Act changed the monthly grant amount. It was now 30% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) at the time (2018), up from 21%-25%.  For example, a family of three in Cook County (a mom with two children) used to get$432 per month but could now get $520 per month. The legislation also pegged the grant amount to the annual change in FPL. So each year families receive an annual bump in their cash benefits.  

The COIN Act lifted more barriers too. It removed county groupings, so the grant amount cannot change based on where you live.  

2019: HB 3129 

As part of the 2019 Legislative agenda, CCH worked with Representative Mary Flowers and Senator Mattie Hunter to further strengthen TANF for families.  

This Legislation ensured that 75% of the TANF grant belongs to the child.  

Meaning sanctions can only affect the parent’s portion of the cash assistance. A sanction is when a family has their benefits stopped because the adult has not met a certain requirement set by their caseworker.  

These sanctions can last for months and take weeks, or longer, to resolve. Families experiencing these sanctions reported utility shut-offs, eviction or housing insecurity, mother or child hunger, and not being able to get medical care. 

2021: HB88

House Bill 88 opened TANF to more people across the state. 

In 1996 the federal government passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, also known as welfare reform. One provision in the Act barred parents with drug felonies from being able to apply for TANF grants and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) support. 

Illinois opted out of the SNAP ban in 2014 and made the TANF ban only 2 years for some parents. 

HB88 removed the barrier of denying cash assistance to families where a parent has a drug felony. 

This bar only worked to ensure families remained in a cycle of poverty.  This made parents face an uphill battle in gaining employment, housing, and support services. HB88 gives parents a real chance to successfully re-enter their communities and successfully parent their children. 

TANF Research 

Each year CCH hosts focus groups with TANF-eligible families to learn more about the program and the barriers they face in applying for and maintaining TANF. With that work in mind CCH along with Heartland began a project that would change the way we think about cash assistance programs in our community.  

In expanding the work, Heartland and CCH wanted to move away from focus groups and instead have the people impacted (those with lived experience) create the hypothesis and questions, and engage their communities to determine the next steps in the advocacy.  This led to the creation of the Research Advisory Board (RAB), with the collaboration of Heartland Alliance, Heartland Alliance’s Social IMPACT Research Center and CCH’s Organizing and Policy Departments.   

The Research Advisory Board includes Ms. Betty, Maxica Williams, and Taishi Neuman. Two RAB members Ms. Leeanna Majors and Ms. Edrika Fulford passed before the report was finished. We remember them both, and their work as researchers and advocates for this project will never be forgotten.  

Their research started by looking at TANF administrative data from October 2017 – April 2021. 

The research had a few major takeaways: 

Less than two-thirds of estimated eligible families with children under 5 were enrolled in TANF in 2018 (62%) and 2019 (63%). Black families are disproportionately sanctioned as compared to other racial groups in Illinois. While the bureaucracy of TANF is the most frequently reported reason that a family is sanctioned, Black families are more likely to be sanctioned for child support non-compliance. 

2022: HB4423  

This year, in the FY22 legislative session CCH and Heartland Alliance worked alongside Leader Marcus Evans and Senator Adriane Johnson to introduce HB4423: Creating Opportunity for Illinoisans in Need II (COIN II). This legislation will raise the TANF grant amount to 50% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). This is the next step from the COIN Act passed in 2018 which raised grants to 30% of the FPL.  

With COIN II, the same mom and two children would now be able to get $915 in cash grants each month. This bill would also make sure all paid child support goes to the child and isn’t retained by the government.  Currently, the state retains $30-50 million annually in child support paid by the noncustodial family For each dollar these parents pay in child support only 14 cents is given to their child.

In other states, when child support went to supporting the child relationships between kids and their non-custodial parent relationships improved as well as the relationship between the two parents when the family received these funds.

The COIN II Act commits all child support funds go straight to families across Illinois. 

Housing is just the start of making a home. Help give families another chance to start a cycle of change, to keep the utilities on, food on the table, and to make housing a human right.  

You can take action here in support of HB4423, and you can read the report brief below:  

This blog was put together by CCH’s communications department using past legislative summaries written by Niya Kelly, and with considerable reference to the TANF: Resigned to the Process report.  

Where to Turn for Help When Temperatures Drop

Originally posted January 2022, last updated December 2022.

Chicagoans should call 3-1-1 if they need weather-related assistance in frigid winter weather, including access to homeless shelters or city warming centers.

Here is a list of warming centers in the city:

Englewood Community Service Center
1140 West 79th Street, Chicago, IL 60620

Garfield Community Service Center (only shelter open at night and on weekends)
10 South Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, IL 60612

Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service Center
4314 South Cottage Grove, Chicago, IL 60653

North Area Community Service Center
845 West Wilson Avenue, Chicago, IL 60640

South Chicago Community Service Center
8650 South Commercial Avenue, Chicago, IL 60617

Trina Davila Community Service Center
4312 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60639


In addition to functioning as a warming center, Garfield Community Service Center at 10 South Kedzie Avenue is open 24-hours day, seven days a week to connect families and residents to emergency shelter.

Chicago residents can also seek shelter at Chicago Public Library locations and select Park District buildings during business hours. Library locations and hours of operations available here. Park District information is available here.

Older adults are welcome at one of the city’s 21 Senior Centers. Location and hours are available here.

In the suburbs, people can contact police non-emergency numbers to ask about warming centers, many of which are housed in police station lobbies and libraries. To find a warming center statewide, see www.keepwarm.illinois.gov

People experiencing homelessness can seek legal aid by calling the CCH Law Project at 1 (800) 940-1119.


Victory Celebration Recap 2022

We thank all the attendees and recipients who joined us on December 8th for our Annual Victory Celebration. To commemorate this event we have put together a photo gallery to share with family and friends the successes and joy we have built together this year.

This year’s winners were:

  • Honorable State Representative Will Guzzardi for his legislative advocacy supporting people experiencing homelessness in Illinois
  • Honorable State Representative Lakesia Collins for her legislative advocacy supporting the expansion of early learning opportunities for families in care
  • Start Early- Illinois Policy Team for their advocacy in expanding early learning and supportive services for families and their children
  • Commissioner Marisa Novara and Commissioner Brandie Knazze for their leadership in providing housing for households living doubled-up
  • Deb Dempsey, Kane County, Regional Office of Education, for her advocacy on behalf of students experiencing homelessness
  • Bob Palmer, of Housing Action Illinois, Les Brown Award for Excellence in Public Policy
  • Research Advisory Board Members Heartland Alliance’s Social IMPACT Research Center in recognition of the creation and development of  the TANF Research Project

As we end 2022 Victory Celebration and enter 2023 we look forward to our collaboration with the community working to ensure housing is accessible to everyone. Addressing homelessness has many layers and together we will continue to be tenacious to make housing a human right. 

Changing the world is a family affair

Horizontal banner. White text in blue box reads: "Changing the world is a family affair." Includes photo of a smiling Black family (two teen girls, one adult woman, and one teen boy) posing in front of a colorful mural.
CCH Board Member and grassroots leader Maxica Williams survived cancer and navigated homelessness. Now she and her family are working to make sure others don’t have to endure the same challenges they did.

Maxica and her three school-age children moved into their new home in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood last January. It has six bedrooms and a big backyard – perfect for making snow angels in the winter and leaf angels in the fall. The residential streets and proximity to parks offer ample space for family strolls with their new puppy, Roxy. And a nearby community garden provides fresh produce for cooking and eating together.  

DeNaysa,16, is a bookworm. The salutatorian of her 8th grade class, the now high school sophomore enjoys band, choir, and volleyball. She is also learning how to drive. DeSera, 14, is a “momma’s girl,” – a natural caregiver and straight-A honors student. She loves choir and is a sprinter on her high school’s track and field team. DeVon, 13, is a talented athlete, playing basketball, football, softball, and volleyball. He likes turning his poetry into music, using skills learned from an After School Matters program. 

“My kids are my heart and soul and the centers of my life,” said Maxica.  

Continue reading Changing the world is a family affair

We Are Stronger Together: CCH raises $90K on Giving Tuesday thanks to 400 individual donors

The staff and volunteers of CCH are overwhelmed with gratitude over the enthusiastic support offered this past Giving Tuesday. Over 400 generous people contributed more than $90,000 to CCH during this annual celebration of giving.   

CCH is grateful to longtime supporters Robert Pasin & Muriel Quinn for committing $30,000 to kick off the effort. CCH recruited 19 staff, Board Members and Associate Board members to follow their lead and become Giving Tuesday Ambassadors, spreading news of CCH’s work and enlisting others to invest in our advocacy.  

Giving Tuesday progress bar with 90% filled up yellow on green background. Left side reads "$90,666" right side reads "$100,000"

Ambassadors employed all types of creative tactics to call attention to CCH’s impact. Camilla Krauss, a staff attorney with CCH’s Law Project, posted a photo of her dog Charlie wearing CCH’s signature yellow shirt as a kerchief. Development Director Michael Nameche thanked his personal network of supporters throughout the day with funny palindromes. CCH Board member Jessica Staiger offered to match her family and friend’s combined donations to CCH with one of her own. 

Perhaps the most unique Giving Tuesday campaign on behalf of CCH was a combined effort from fans of the Netflix sketch comedy series I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson. A spoof website referring to a particular skit of the show directed fans to make donations to CCH via Venmo. This has been an ongoing source of support for CCH for over a year, but on Giving Tuesday an impressive 45 fans of the show delivered over $700 to CCH.  

Thanks to everyone that made contributions of any size to CCH on Giving Tuesday. We often like to say that we are stronger together, and this Giving Tuesday is one more example of that collective power to make change.  

Mayra knows a little help can go a long way

Mayra Fajardo, a Latinx woman in her 20s, poses in front of the Chicago River, a big smile on her face. She is wearing a white blouse. Banner text reads: Mayra knows a little help can go a long way.

Mayra Fajardo recently graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She earned a double major in psychology and criminology/law, with a double minor in history and Spanish. Having navigated high school and college as an unaccompanied student, Mayra is passionate about using her skills and experiences to help others.  

Born and raised in Chicago, Mayra moved with her family to Ecuador at 15. A year later, she made the difficult decision to return to Chicago alone to pursue better educational opportunities. Her goal? To provide hope and support for her mother and younger sister. 

Continue reading Mayra knows a little help can go a long way