Mutual Aid Fund distribution nearing completion

Updated July 29 – Chicago Coalition for the Homeless has notified 341 people who are receiving one-time grants from its Mutual Aid Fund. The distribution of funds will be completed by early August. 

Those whose applications were denied have been notified via email or phone call.

The coronavirus pandemic amplifies hardships experienced by people who are homeless as well as those who have been homeless and risk facing it again.

Responding to pressing community need, CCH created its Mutual Aid Fund. The fund provides direct cash support of up to $500 to Illinois residents in need.

During a 5-day application period, which ran May 11 – 15, over 6,000 people applied online or over the phone, with Spanish speaking operators available.

CCH grassroots leaders – people who have experienced homelessness and work in partnership with CCH staff – run the fund. Leaders designed the fund and decided which requests received support.

“Tragically, the homeless community has been overlooked and underserved. The COVID-19 crisis is no exception. It’s important that the Mutual Aid Fund is governed by people with lived experience because we have a unique perspective on the needs of our community,” said Edrika Fulford, a grassroots leader and founding member of the Mutual Aid Committee.

“As an organization that works to build power for people who are often pushed to the side, it is important to CCH that we create a fund run by our leaders,” added Community Organizer Alyssa Rodriguez.

The fund was open to residents of Illinois who are currently homeless or have been homeless in the past and at risk of becoming homeless again. Applicants must be at least 18 years old; or if they are an unaccompanied youth, at least 16 years old. Undocumented individuals and permanent residents are welcome to apply. No more than one grant per household will be awarded.

CCH is able to distribute more than $170,000, thanks to generous grants from the Affirm Cares Employee Foundation, Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund, Grassroots Collaborative, Homestead Affordable Development Corporation, and the Jay Pritzker Foundation, as well as modest donations from more than 350 individual donors.

“With over 80,000 people in Chicago experiencing homelessness, we know that this fund cannot help everyone facing hardship. But we hope that it can make a difference in the lives of those we can reach as we continue to advocate for broader systems change, putting both funding and policies in place that will end homelessness once and for all,” said Doug Schenkelberg, CCH’s Executive Director.

– Anne Bowhay, Media