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.