Homelessness is caused by many factors that include inadequate stock of affordable housing, too few living wage jobs, and too few resources for those trying to restore their lives after incarceration or unemployment.
Our non-profit uses community organizing, advocacy, and legal aid to press for measures that help people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. CCH counters public complacency about people left homeless and without options due to extreme poverty.
By example, CCH mobilized homeless moms to ask Illinois legislators to create Homeless Prevention grants. Through Fiscal Year 2018, 118,023 Illinois households were assisted since FY 2000. Administered by community providers, the state provides small, one-time grants to help families avoid foreclosure or eviction. Follow-up studies show that 88% remained housed.
Unfortunately, state support for homeless prevention yo-yos over the years, so CCH must advocate every year for its funding. Illinois increased prevention funding to $11 million in FY 2007 and FY 2008. But by FY 2012, funding was less than $1.5 million and federal stimulus for prevention grants was running out. Working with our homeless leaders, community supporters and Housing Action Illinois, CCH persuaded legislators to restore $4 million for FY 2013 through FY 2015, and up to $4.9 million a year through FY 2019. CCH secured a significant increase for FY20, to $9 million for prevention funding.
CCH works in these key areas:
• Community organizing educates people experiencing homelessness on the options available to them and trains those who are interested to be community leaders, advocating on key issues. In FY 2021, more than 3,000 people participated in monthly outreach programs at shelters, transitional housing, and street programs across Chicago. Through CCH’s State Network in 14 suburbs and downstate cities, 747 people were mobilized, including community and religious groups, as well as 300 people impacted by homelessness. Hundreds of shelter residents work with us at rallies, meetings, and trips to Chicago City Hall or Springfield.
• Advocacy and public policy works to preserve the shelter and public benefits safety net and develop affordable housing. We press for ready access to public schools. CCH also pursues reentry options in housing and employment for people who were formerly incarcerated.
• The Law Project offers no-charge legal aid services. In FY 2021, six attorneys closed 450 cases in Chicago and the suburbs, with 59% of clients either students or youth. Legal outreach connected with over 830 students and youth and 80 people who live on the street. It is the only legal aid program in Illinois solely dedicated to serving people who are homeless or at-risk.
A variety of foundations help fund the breadth of this work through general operating support, including the Marguerite Casey Foundation, The Chicago Community Trust, Crown Family Philanthropies, Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, Woods Fund of Chicago, Helen Brach Foundation, VNA Foundation, The Chicago Bar Foundation, Little Flower Fund, Glasser & Rosenthal Family Foundation, and Landau Family Foundation.