Homeless youth ask state leaders, ‘What Am I Worth?’

This year, the state of Illinois supports programs for its homeless youth at an average cost of $128 for each youth.

With yearly cuts over four years, the state is spending $3.2 million for homeless youth shelters and services this year (FY 2012). That’s a 32% ($1.5 million) cutback from peak annual funding of $4.7 million in FY 2008.

An estimated 25,000 youth live unaccompanied across Illinois – youth living homeless and on their own, without family or guardian. This includes 3,189 youth who were enrolled in Chicago Public Schools last year. Many youth providers must turn away more youth than they can serve when funding averages $128 a youth.

“You can’t even buy a good iPod with that!” remarked a teen from H.E.L.L.O., a street youth group that’s facilitated by the CCH youth attorney, The Night Ministry and Lakeview Action Coalition.

To tell your legislator to support homeless youth, click here: http://bit.ly/AhyuDT

The teen’s remark inspired the CCH Youth Committee to join with H.E.L.L.O. to make a short video, What Am I Worth?

In the 3-minute video, youth explain the need as they see it. Several tell their own stories of how they became homeless.

Through its No Youth Alone campaign, 29 providers and agencies on the Youth Committee are advocating that Illinois restore funding to $4.7 million. Along with services, the funds help support 209 shelter beds for youth in Chicago, a statewide total of almost 400 beds.

The video was produced by 20 members of the HELLO youth group, with help from Denise Powers and Anne Holcomb from The Night Ministry, Ed Negron of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Jim Belanger of UCAN’s LGBTQ Host Homes Program, and CCH’s Jenifer Nyhuis, Beth Cunningham and Daria Mueller.


– Anne Bowhay, Media