CCH’s Mutual Aid Fund (MAF) is an innovative, low-barrier direct cash-assistance program for Illinois individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Created in May 2020 in response to the pandemic, the fund was designed by and continues to be managed by grassroots leaders with lived experience of homelessness.
To date, the Mutual Aid Fund has distributed 710 grants of $500, totaling $355,000 in direct assistance!
MAF recipients have used the funds for critical, urgent needs, including security deposits, hotel/motel stays, monthly bus passes for work, and doctor’s appointments and medicines.
Join us in helping even more individuals and families impacted by homelessness: Through October 31, donations up to $50,000 will be matched by long-time community partners Marta Delgado & Sam Nandi.
CCH aims to raise at least $100,000 for the Mutual Aid Fund this year, enough to provide 200 cash grants to community members impacted by homelessness.
Your support makes a difference: CCH’s Mutual Aid Fund in action
“I did the application because I’m living in a difficult situation – I am diabetic and need a balanced diet. Sometimes I go to sleep without a dollar in my pocket, not knowing how I will pay for rent. I used the funds to buy food and pay a portion of my rent.”Vicente H
“Being homeless during the pandemic felt impossible, but the fund helped me with food, hygiene products and most importantly art supplies…which helped me to earn more income and to feel more secure in the post-pandemic world, that had seemed to forget the homeless. CCH didn’t forget though…the fund was there to help.”Trevor R.
“When I found out I was chosen to receive the Mutual Aid Funds, I was so happy and appreciative. I had recently moved into a new apartment and abruptly lost my income temporarily. I was able to open a checking account and had a little cushion to pay my bills. Resources such as this should always be available for hard-working people who do not qualify for government assistance.”Juanita R.
Shamaje pays it forward
At the start of the pandemic, Shamaje Singleton, then 18, was unable to afford housing on his own. He bounced around Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood, living doubled-up with various family members and sharing crowded hotel rooms with friends.
A month after turning 19, Shamaje received wonderful news: He had been accepted into the Solid Ground transitional living program at La Casa Norte. Shamaje instantly connected to the community living in the dorm-style building in Humboldt Park.
His caseworker Jordan Geary recalls, “Even though he had experienced a lot of bad luck himself, Shamaje was always kind and willing to pay attention and help out others when they were in crisis.”
At his caseworker’s recommendation, Shamaje applied to CCH’s Mutual Aid Fund online in July 2021, finding the process to be “smooth and convenient.” When he learned that his application had been funded, he said, “I was shocked but so grateful to receive this support.”
A $500 grant from CCH’s Mutual Aid Fund gave Shamaje the chance to open a bank account and use the funds for moving fees, food, and transportation.
Later, when CCH Community Organizer Alyssa Rodriguez invited Shamaje to join CCH’s advocacy efforts as a grassroots leader, he knew he had the skills for it. As a member of an inaugural action research project, Shamaje worked with other young people who had experienced homelessness to decide what issues are important to them and develop proposed solutions.
The action research project has since evolved into a core youth advocacy group, which continues to develop strategies for addressing housing and mental health issues for young people in Chicago.
“I am proud to stay involved,” Shamaje said. “I always like to do community work. I want to help people in similar situations to never give up.”