WGEM: Illinois lawmakers could boost TANF benefits this year

By Mike Miletich

March 17, 2022

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) – Low-income families in Illinois who receive TANF benefits could get an extra boost thanks to a proposal in Springfield.

Rep. Marcus Evans (D-Chicago) said the Illinois Department of Human Services should increase grant amounts for temporary assistance for needy families. The state currently provides 30% of the federal poverty guidelines for each family size. Evans would like to see that raised to 50%.

His bill could help a family of three currently receiving $549 per month from TANF get $915 in benefits. Evans said his plan also allows dollars for child support to go directly to parents or guardians instead of the current system where some of the money is dispersed by the state.

Continue reading WGEM: Illinois lawmakers could boost TANF benefits this year

Streets Blog Chicago: Homeless coalition hopes CTA security plan won’t “criminalize” unhoused people on the ‘L’

By Amber Drea

March 14, 2022

Unarmed CTA security guards on the Jackson Blue Line platform. Photo: John Greenfield

Last Wednesday Mayor Lori Lightfoot, along with the heads of the Chicago Police Department and the CTA, announced at a press conference that police resources would be shifted from the Bureau of Counterterrorism to the ‘L’ system in order to address the spike in violent crime on transit during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when many Chicagoans have been experiencing economic and mental health crises. The deployed officers (asked how many, police chief David Brown simply said replied, “As much as we need to send to the CTA to make it safe,”) will focus on the 24-hour Red and Blue lines, using data to target high-crime stops with an emphasis on preventing gang- and drug-related violence.

Continue reading Streets Blog Chicago: Homeless coalition hopes CTA security plan won’t “criminalize” unhoused people on the ‘L’

Streets Blog Chicago: Homeless coalition hopes CTA security plan won’t “criminalize” unhoused people on the ‘L’

By Amber Drea

Unarmed CTA security guards on the Jackson Blue Line platform. Photo: John Greenfield Last Wednesday Mayor Lori Lightfoot, along with the heads of the Chicago Police Department and the CTA, announced at a press conference that police resources would be shifted from the Bureau of Counterterrorism to the ‘L’ system in order to address the spike in violent crime on transit during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when many Chicagoans have been experiencing economic and mental health crises. The deployed officers (asked how many, police chief David Brown simply said replied, “As much as we need to send to the CTA to make it safe,”) will focus on the 24-hour Red and Blue lines, using data to target high-crime stops with an emphasis on preventing gang- and drug-related violence.

Continue reading Streets Blog Chicago: Homeless coalition hopes CTA security plan won’t “criminalize” unhoused people on the ‘L’

Block Club Chicago: Smoking, Urination And ‘Unruly Behavior’ Is On The Rise On Trains, CTA Riders Say. But Will Private Security Fix Problems?

By Mack Liederman March 3, 2022 9:59 a.m. CT

Passengers wait for an arriving O’Hare-bound CTA Blue Line train at the CTA Jackson Blue Line station in the Loop on Feb. 25, 2022.

CHICAGO — When Max Merkow steps onto the train for his morning commute, most days he’s hit with clouds of weed and cigarette smoke.

“People have gotten more ballsy as of late,” said Merkow, who rides the Red and Blue lines. “Smoking on the trains is a daily occurrence. Especially in the last few months, it’s gotten absolutely rampant.”

Merkow isn’t the only one noticing. Riders across the city have lit up social media in recent weeks complaining about conditions on public transit, including smoking, littering, urination, public defecation and unruly behavior.

Chicago Reader: Lukewarm welcome

By Katie Prout

March 2, 2022

I didn’t expect to be escorted off the premises of the city’s only overnight warming center on a 28-degree evening, though perhaps I should have. After all, I’d been warned. Last fall, when I learned I’d gotten this job, I asked people who live on Lower Wacker what kinds of stories they’d like to see in the Reader. Repeatedly, folks suggested I take a look at the city’s six official “warming areas” run by the Department of Family & Support Services (DFSS). “What about them?” I asked.

Continue reading Chicago Reader: Lukewarm welcome

The Night Ministry: COVID Continues to Create Barriers for Chicago’s Homeless Population

The temperature is dropping on an already cold January morning. Still, Marcus, a client of The Night Ministry’s Health Outreach Program, has removed his coat and sweatshirt and pulled his arm out of his shirt sleeve so Stephan Koruba, The Night Ministry’s Senior Nurse Practitioner, can give him a COVID vaccination booster.

Marcus had lost his vaccination card a few months prior when the tent he lives in on the edge of downtown Chicago was ransacked. Koruba scrolls on a phone to locate Marcus’s electronic vaccination record and then issues him a new card with the date, brand, and vial number of his first vaccination, and now his booster.

Continue reading The Night Ministry: COVID Continues to Create Barriers for Chicago’s Homeless Population

Chicago Suntimes: These are some of the faces of homelessness in Chicago, captured by Jeffrey Wolin

Andon K., Chicago 2018

By Mark Brown   Feb 4, 2022, 11:00am CDT

When photographer Jeffrey Wolin began work four years ago on a project about people experiencing homelessness in Chicago, he worried for a time that his concept would be obsolete before he could finish.

Surely, this country would soon step up to solve the homelessness crisis, he thought.

In his new book, “Faces of Homelessness,” Wolin betrays no lingering naivete about quick solutions as he explores the scope and depth of this deeply entrenched social problem.

Chalkbeat Chicago: Illinois Students missed a lot of school last year: it’s a sign that something isn’t working

By Max Herman

For the past 19 years, when students in Kane County have missed school, Kari Glenn has visited their homes to see what’s preventing them from attending classes.

As a truancy officer, she says this year has been the hardest. 

In one of the families Glenn works with, the single parent died, leaving behind four young children. “Now they’re going to be living with a relative and that relative isn’t completely prepared to take on four little kids,“ she said. 

Continue reading Chalkbeat Chicago: Illinois Students missed a lot of school last year: it’s a sign that something isn’t working

Chicago Suntimes: ‘The need gets larger and larger’

By Neil Steinberg Jan. 23, 2022

The Night Ministry’s case manager Sylvia Hibbard checks on a person living at a homeless encampment — offering services from the street medicine van, such as free health care, food and other survival supplies — at North Kedzie Avenue and West Belmont Avenue Wednesday morning on the Northwest Side.
The Night Ministry’s case manager Sylvia Hibbard checks on a person living at a homeless encampment, offering services from the street medicine van, such as free health care, food and other survival supplies — at North Kedzie Avenue and West Belmont Avenue Wednesday morning on the Northwest Side.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

“We’re missing an outreach worker who normally drives, answers the phone, plans the route and does needle exchange,” Koruba says. “We have a reduced presence due to COVID. We’re struggling a little bit.”

So those duties are now theirs, the missing worker one tiny twist of the vise that is slowly crushing frontline social service agencies at the beginning of the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Continue reading Chicago Suntimes: ‘The need gets larger and larger’