NBC NEWS: Three times as many people were experiencing homelessness in Chicago this year as migrant numbers surged

By Daniella Silva, June 10, 2024

Nearly 19,000 people were experiencing homelessness in Chicago in January, more than three times as many as last year, as the city struggled to manage the thousands of newly arrived migrants in its shelter system. 

An annual city survey released Friday — a snapshot of estimated homelessness in Chicago on a single night — found that 18,836 people were without permanent housing on Jan. 25, up from 6,139 the year before.

The survey numbers are based on the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s definition of homelessness, which includes unhoused people and those living in shelters. 

A majority of the increase was driven by thousands of new migrants’ arriving in Chicago and needing shelter. The migrants have been facing delays in getting work permits, if they qualify for the permits at all, a critical step in obtaining housing.

While the city has “steadily continued to work to prevent and end homelessness,” this year’s count “reflects an increased need for housing and homeless services,” not only in Chicago, but also across America, said Maura McCauley, managing deputy commissioner of the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services.

There were 13,679 new arrivals living in Chicago’s shelters the night the survey was conducted, an increase from the 2,176 living in shelters in January 2023, according to the survey. There were also 212 migrants living completely unsheltered this year, compared with 20 last year, the survey said.

The large increase showed that the migrants and the city were “dealing with a lot of hardship” earlier this year and that the city, Cook County and the state have tried to add resources to address “this unprecedented influx,” said Doug Schenkelberg, the executive director of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. 

WBEZ: Chicago’s homeless population increased threefold, a city snapshot shows, owing largely to migrants

By Tessa Weinberg, June 7, 2024

More than 18,800 Chicagoans experienced homelessness on a single night in January — a threefold increase over last year that was largely driven by 13,900 asylum-seekers who had no permanent place to stay.

The estimates released Friday come from the city’s annual snapshot of the number of people experiencing homelessness on a single night. This year’s point-in-time count was conducted on Jan. 25 — shortly after the city saw its peak of the number of migrants it sheltered. During the count, 13,679 asylum-seekers were living in shelters, with 212 unsheltered.

Outside of the population of asylum-seekers, the number of people who were in city shelters or staying on the street saw an uptick to 4,945 — a 25% increase from the 3,943 “non-new arrivals” who were sheltered and unsheltered last year.

Of that demographic, Black Chicagoans experienced higher rates of homelessness, with 72% identifying as Black, compared to Black residents making up roughly a third of the city’s population.

Overall, 18,836 people were experiencing homelessness compared to 6,139 during last year’s count. Around 30% were children under 18.

The figures underscore why the city has tried to build capacity to resettle the more than 43,000 migrants that have arrived to Chicago while also working on strategies to end homelessness, said Maura McCauley, managing deputy commissioner for the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services.

“Those things have been happening together,” McCauley said. “One didn’t stop in order to serve another population.”

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which mandates the counts, defines a person experiencing homelessness as someone who “lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.” The counts capture a static picture, but it’s among the ways to estimate the number of people experiencing homelessness. When accounting for those living “doubled up” temporarily with others, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless estimated there were 68,440 people unhoused in Chicago in 2021, for example, compared to just 4,477 reported during that year’s point-in-time count.

WTTW: Number of Unhoused Chicagoans Tripled Amid Surge of Migrants, Survey Found

By Heather Cherone, June 7, 2024

The number of Chicagoans living in city shelters or on city streets tripled between January 2023 and January 2024, according to the annual survey used by federal officials to track homelessness, city officials announced Friday.

More than 18,800 people in Chicago lacked a permanent place to sleep, according to the annual “point-in-time” count, which sends volunteers out to count the number of unsheltered people on the city’s streets on a single night and is used by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development officials to determine federal funding levels. The 2024 count took place on Jan. 25.

That is an increase of more than 200% in the past year, driven largely by the arrival of 35,000 migrants from the southern border, all of whom are in the country legally after requesting asylum. Children account for one-third of Chicago’s unhoused population, according to the survey. 

Read the full survey results.

“We aren’t rising to the occasion,” said Doug Schenkelberg, the executive director of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

The results of the point-in-time survey are “disheartening but not surprising,” Schenkelberg said.

“It is clear that the problem is continuing to grow,” Schenkelberg said.