2017: CCH enacted its three-bill homeless youth initiative, “Three Steps Home.” Policy and organizing staff mobilized support from 38 agencies on CCH’s Youth Committee and 148 youth leaders. The first lets unaccompanied 16- and 17-year-olds live in licensed transitional housing. The second, written by a CCH youth health attorney, allows youth ages 12 – 17 to get eight counseling sessions without requiring parent/guardian approval, an otherwise significant difficulty for unaccompanied youth. But Gov. Rauner made an amendatory veto of the third measure, the College Hunger bill, which would allow vocational-track community college students to be eligible for SNAP food assistance. The governor said he opposed requiring a state agency to help implement the change. Working with Heartland Alliance and Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, we reintroduced it in the fall veto session, where it passed the Senate. In November, the Illinois Department of Human Services adopted rules that conform to the bill, allowing low-income community college students to apply for SNAP effective January 1. It’s projected up to 40,000 students could be assisted.
2016: Youth Health Attorney Graham Bowman worked to develop a free mobile phone app for use by homeless youth in Chicago. Working with technical staff from the Young Invincibles, StreetLight Chicago launched on Nov. 14. The app provides youth with timely information while offering phone numbers for key resources and referrals, including youth shelters, health clinics, and drop-in centers. By 2017, we developed this year included a companion desktop website for use by youth providers and launched a “Book a Bed” feature piloted at a La Casa Norte youth shelter.
2015: Youth agencies were hard hit in the early years of the state budget crisis. This included a 32% funding cutback to homeless youth programs after FY 2007 and long delays in promised state payments. CCH mobilized providers on its Youth Committee to advocate for increases that over three years restored funding to $5.6 million by FY15. Gov. Rauner proposed to slash youth funding to $3.1 million (55%) in the FY 2016 budget, but CCH mobilized advocacy that later saw House Bill 4165 cut only $43,000 from homeless youth funding. Though no FY 2016 budget was enacted in 2015, the state sent summer contracts to youth providers that imposed the less than 1% cutback approved by the House.
2014: CCH drafted and advocated for House Bill 4501, which allows unaccompanied minors to consent to their own medical care for non-emergency illnesses and injuries. It took effect in October. Bringing Illinois in line with 17 other states, the amendment allows minors, ages 14 to 18, to consent to their own care, when previously they were turned away even from school-based clinics if they lacked a parent/guardian to sign a consent form.
2013: CCH pushed to maintain funding for shelters, homeless prevention grants and homeless youth programs in the state’s FY14 budget. To build strength, CCH mobilizes youth and shelter providers from Chicago and the nine cities in our Statewide Network to develop relationships with their legislators via one-on-one meetings and site visits. We began by meeting with 15 key legislators to thank them for voting down a proposed 52% ($4.7 million) cutback to shelters in FY13. In the spring, we brought 250 shelter residents and providers to Springfield to talk to legislators. We also work with several allies, including Housing Action Illinois. State funding was maintained, with small increases ($300,000) to shelter and ($500,000) homeless youth funding.
2012: CCH mobilized its HELLO street youth group to testify at public hearings to develop a new city homeless plan. When Plan 2.0 was unveiled in August 2012, the 7-year plan included key recommendations from the youth and the citywide homeless youth task force, such tripling the number of youth beds by 2019. The city asked the youth task force to help decide how to spend $2 million of homeless funding being reallocated to youth in 2013; Policy Director Julie Dworkin helped evaluate RFPs as a task force member. Chicago expanded drop-in programs and added 74 youth beds at La Casa Norte (45), Unity Parenting (24) and A Safe Haven (5), and made the 40 overnight beds at The Crib and A Safe Haven open year-round. By mid-2013, there were 374 youth beds in Chicago, 120 of them overnight beds.
Working with 30 providers on our Youth Committee, CCH helped restore some of the 33% ($1.6 million) in yearly state funding cuts to homeless youth programs since FY2008, securing $900,000 (28%) more than a year earlier ($4.1 million total).
2011: Advocacy by CCH and The Night Ministry persuaded the city to resume funding of the piloted overnight youth shelters, and add a 20-bed second youth shelter in 2012. This increased the number of youth shelter beds in Chicago by 17% (to 273 beds).
2010: Two “low threshold” youth shelters were piloted for four months in winter 2011. With a $100,000 city grant, 40 beds were opened to serve street youth, ages18 to 24, at shelters managed by The Night Ministry (15 beds) and Olive Branch (25 beds). The HELLO youth group, co-run by our youth attorney and The Night Ministry, proposed this emerging shelter model at a January 2010 meeting with then-Mayor Daley. Twenty-five youth met with the mayor, explaining that some youth who need shelter are not ready to work with a case manager and be involved in services.
2008: CCH successfully advocates for $3 million for Illinois’ first state-funded homeless education program to assist school districts during FY09 in facilitating the enrollment, attendance and success of homeless school-age students. Both houses pass a state budget including a $1.7 million increase for shelter, transitional housing and transitional jobs for homeless youth, which the Governor vetoes a month later.
2007: CCH releases a new report on homeless youth providers’ needs and outcomes at a press conference. The report, based on a survey of homeless youth service providers statewide, indicates that homeless youth programs are forced to turn away 52% of youth who need housing, largely due to lack of space.
2005: CCH’s Youth Committee coordinates a statewide study on youth homelessness and statewide conference; the statewide census indicates that there are 24,968 unaccompanied homeless youth.
2004: CCH’s Youth Committee helps override a Governor’s veto of $500,000 in funding for homeless youth programs. The new funding goes to fund a statewide census and survey of youth homelessness and to fund three programs serving pregnant and parenting teens.
CCH creates the Mobile Legal Aid Clinic for homeless youth staffed by a new attorney.
2003: CCH’s Youth Committee and Law Project advocate successfully for legislation to amend the Illinois Emancipation of Mature Minors Act to allow homeless minors aged 16 and 17 to consent to services in transitional housing programs.
1998: CCH’s Statewide Homeless Youth Initiative works with the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to increase funding for homeless youth programs from $2 million to $4 million.
1996: CCH works with the State of Illinois in order to prevent the transfer of the Homeless Youth Services Division of the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) to the Department of Corrections.
1994: CCH’s Youth Committee coordinates a state campaign to increase the state budget for programs serving homeless youth to $2 million.
1993: CCH releases “Alone After Dark,” a first of its kind report on homeless youth in Illinois that receives significant attention from the media and gives government officials a credible source of information on homeless youth. CCH researches and releases its “Statement of Need and Recommended Service Delivery System for Homeless Youth in Illinois.”
1992: CCH creates the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), a leadership group comprised of Chicago-area homeless youth.
1990: The CCH Youth Committee convinces the State of Illinois to allocate funds through the Illinois State Board of Education to 26 community-based agencies for educational outreach
1987: CCH succeeds in its work to legalize the creation of shelters for homeless minors. Previously it was illegal to shelter homeless minors.
1986: The Youth Committee brings pressure on the State of Illinois, resulting in the funding of the first five shelters serving homeless youth.
1985: CCH works with the Governor’s office to convene the first ever Governor’s Task Force on Homeless Youth in Illinois and releases a report indicating that there are more than 21,000 youth that are homeless in Illinois.
1983: CCH launches a Homeless Youth Committee in response to the murder of a homeless youth in Chicago’s Uptown community.