Pat speaks up to help others

Black grandmother and her three grandkids -- ages 11, 12, and 16 -- pose smiling with their arms around each other. They are sitting on a bench and wearing winter jackets. Banner text reads: Pat speaks up to help others

Born to a large family with nine siblings, Patricia “Pat” Franklin understands the importance of working together so that everyone has what they need to thrive. A grandmother of three and self-described jokester, Pat aspires to make the world better for families like hers.

“Growing up, I never knew we were poor,” recalls Pat. “Sleeping three to a bed – I just thought that’s the way it was. My mother was always helping and taking people in. She taught me that there’s always someone else out there who is worse off than you.”

Today, Pat channels her mother’s generous spirit by serving as grassroots leader with CCH, leading advocacy efforts to support people experiencing homelessness.

“CCH is like my second family,” Pat said. “I just love being here and advocating. By sharing my story, I hope it helps the next family and prevents them from going through what I did.”

Smiling portrait of a Black woman in her 60s. She is wearing glasses, delicate gold earrings, and a red, white, and blue stripped knit sweater.
Pat Franklin, CCH grassroots leader and grandmother of three

Pat first experienced homelessness in 2015 after her husband died and she could no longer afford the mortgage. She later moved into a 2-bedroom apartment, but after gaining guardianship of her three grandkids, the landlord evicted the family, claiming the home was too small for four people. Forced to seek refuge at a shelter, they later doubled-up with friends and family.

It was a challenging time for the family. The kids were struggling in school, and Pat’s attempts to get support were left unanswered. Then Pat met CCH Organizer Bisma Shoukat at her grandkids’ elementary school.

“Bisma saw me crying in the hallway,” Pat shared. “She said maybe she could help me, and then she did.”

CCH helped Pat’s family connect to resources through Chicago Public Schools’ Students in Temporary Living Situations (STLS) program. CCH also helped the family secure a home of their own through Families in Transition (FIT), a program created through CCH’s HomeWorks campaign. Pat and her grandkids were one of 100 families from systemically marginalized neighborhoods chosen to receive permanent housing subsidies.

Thanks to the FIT program, Pat and her three grandchildren – Lamarr, 16, Jamarcus, 12, and Destiny, 11 – remain stably housed in their Grand Crossing apartment more than six years later. 

Although Pat has been a committed community advocate since 2017, it took time for her to build her confidence as a grassroots leader.

“When I started with CCH, I would go to the meetings and just listen. I wouldn’t say anything or do anything,” Pat shared. “But they taught me that I have a voice. And now that I have a voice, I’m using it.”

With leadership development opportunities and the support of her peers, Pat is now one of CCH’s most active grassroots leaders.

As a member of the Speakers Bureau, Pat educates community members on homelessness by sharing her story. With the CPS Focus Group, she works to improve services for students at Chicago Public Schools. 

Pat has served on the governance committee for the Edrika Fulford Mutual Aid Fund and attended lobby days in Springfield with her grandkids in tow. She is also a leader with the Bring Chicago Home (BCH) campaign, which seeks to create a dedicated revenue stream to address homelessness.

Pat is proud of her many contributions over the years, most recently supporting the five-year effort to secure the BCH referendum question on the ballot in Chicago’s next election.

“My experiences made me a stronger person,” said Pat.  “I’m no longer afraid to speak up. It’s helping me to bring my grandkids up in a better way and to remind them that regardless of what happens, you’re not alone.”  

Six Black adults stand smiling in front of a yellow tent with a Chicago Coalition for the Homeless logo. They are wearing black hats and t-shirts with the Bring Chicago Home logo. Several are holding clipboards.
Pat (third from the left), poses with other CCH grassroots leaders at a Bring Chicago Home outreach event.

“With CCH, I feel most happy and grateful that I have this opportunity to help someone. I feel like I’m doing something meaningful by helping others.”