An estimated 58,273 people were experiencing homelessness in Chicago, IL in 2019, immediately prior to the COVID–19 outbreak, per an analysis by CCH using data from the Chicago Homeless Management Information System and the U.S. Census American Community Survey.  

The decrease in homelessness from year-to-year was almost exclusively among people experiencing homelessness by temporarily staying with others. Since 2015, the count of people that access homeless services throughout the course of each year has remained between 21,919 and 23,808 people.  

Most of Chicago’s permanent housing resources for those experiencing homelessness do not include those temporarily staying with others in their eligibility criteria. Therefore, many households move out of Chicago where market rent is more affordable.  

Prior to the COVID–19 pandemic, an estimated 12,599 Chicagoans age 18-24 were in the same situation as Smith, living doubled-up in an overcrowded household.  

People live doubled up due to the loss of their own housing—which is the most common form of homelessness among families. During the 2019-20 school year, only 11% of students experiencing homelessness in Chicago were staying in a shelter. Most families experiencing homelessness were moving frequently between motels, cars, trains, and doubling up.  

The COVID–19 pandemic is pushing many Chicagoans into homelessness, but just how many is still unknown. While this report shows declining numbers of people experiencing homelessness, it is important to note that all the findings are based on 2019 data, collected prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.