CCH Policy Reports And Publications

Since 1980, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) has had a clear mission: “We organize and advocate to prevent and end homelessness, because we believe housing is a human right in a just society.” We've collected all of our mission-driven policy documents here and provide access to downloadable documents as noted. Search, browse, access and get the facts, stats, and real story behind homelessness.
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Illinois State of Homelessness 2022

September 19, 2022

An estimated 65,611 people were experiencing homelessness in Chicago in 2020. This in-depth analysis includes sheltered, unsheltered, and people temporarily staying with others, and it is a 7,338-person increase (+12.6%) from 2019, immediately prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fewer Chicagoans experienced sheltered and unsheltered homelessness, but Chicago saw a large spike (+20%) in people temporarily staying with others (or "doubling up"). 

Gaps in Educational Supports for Illinois Homeless Students

February 27, 2014

Homeless children and youth in Illinois have the right under state and federal law to receive supports from their school districts to help them enroll, prevent school changes, and succeed in school. The federal government supplies some resources for school districts to achieve these goals, but the resources are far from adequate. A December 2013 statewide survey found that in a majority of school districts, more than half of homeless students who needed support were not getting the following services:52% said that more than half of homeless students did not receive tutoring52% said that more than half of homeless children that needed preschool did not access it.56% said that more than half of students did not receive counseling58% said that more than half of students did not receive help with public benefits50% said that more than half of students did not receive help with long-term housing44% said their capacity to identify and enroll homeless children and youth not in school was limited to very limited.The survey findings indicate a strong need for more resources. Chicago Coalition for the Homeless advocates that the state of Illinois restore $3 million in school grant funding to assist the growing and unmet needs of homeless students.

Children and Youth and Homelessness

Treatment Courts and Court-Affiliated Diversion Projects for Prostitution in the United States

November 1, 2012

In February of 2009, staff of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless began a dialogue with the Honorable Paul P. Biebel, Presiding Judge of Cook County Criminal Courts, regarding the possibility of a new problem-solving court specializing in prostitution offenses. For our own edification, we searched for other court models around the country with this same focus. We found several; however, there was no centralized source of information. There was also a lack of shared information among those responsible for coordinating these court projects. In fact, few of these court teams were aware of the other courts in operation. We found more and more court models randomly via keyword searches on the Internet or word of mouth. Those that we contacted regarding their court models were eager and enthusiastic about their models, willing to openly share any information requested, and excited about the prospect of new models and connecting with other existing courts and their associated programs.As we moved further into developing and preparing for the WINGS Project, the newly formed felony prostitution court in Cook County, Illinois, we felt that it would be highly beneficial to begin sharing the knowledge, best practices, and contact information among the courts throughout the country. We wanted to create a tool that facilitated communication and learning between all of the court teams. The information regarding these courts was invaluable in the creation of the WINGS Project, and we hope it can be as useful for other specialty courts for prostitution offenses around the country.The authors of this report have not physically observed any of the court or diversion projects described in this report other than the WINGS Project/Feathers and the Maywood court calls. The information presented about each project is based on countless hours of phone interviews and email communication, as well as any online articles or reports; therefore, the information presented is not completely neutral, and any subjective information or views expressed within those sections do not necessarily reflect the views of the authors.The court and diversion projects in this report are by no means meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather only what we have been able to find through extensive research to date. This report is, and may always be, a work in progress. Our hope is that this report will also help us gain awareness of other projects and even spur other communities to develop similar projects. The sharing of this tool should lead to even greater sharing, ever-improving models, and a much more comprehensive base of knowledge on the subject of effective criminal justice-based models that divert individuals with prostitution offenses away from prison and into desperately needed community-based services.


Sweet Home Chicago: The Story of an Affordable Housing Campaign

May 1, 2012

The Sweet Home Chicago (SHC) Coalition was comprised of nine community organizations and two labor unions that conducted a two and a half year campaign that resulted in passage of the Vacant Building TIF Purchase Rehab Program on May 4, 2011. This ordinance is one of the very few pieces of legislation to benefit low-income people that passed during Mayor Richard Daley's 22 years in office.

Housing and Homelessness

Giving Hope: The City of Chicago Task Force on Homeless Youth Report

April 12, 2011

Homeless youth are defined in this report as unaccompanied young people ages 14-25 that do not have a safe, stable place to live. Youth often leave home or are forced out due to physical and sexual abuse, substance abuse by a parent, and long-term family economic problems. Pregnant and parenting teens, LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) youth, and current and former wards are disproportionately represented in the homeless youth population. During the 2009-2010 school year, the Chicago Public Schools identified 3,682 unaccompanied homeless youth in school. Based on CPS data, data from shelters, and data from other research on homelessness, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless has developed a methodology to estimate total numbers of homeless youth, children, and adults each year including those living doubled up. According to this estimate, there were a total of 11,471 homeless youth ages 18-21 in Chicago during the 09-10 school year. This includes youth who were not in school or were not identified by the schools. Shelter and housing programs in Chicago do not come close to meeting the need for housing for young people. A survey conducted for this report found that the eight programs providing shelter and housing to homeless youth turned away 4,775 requests for housing from youth in a year. When youth are not able to access shelter they are extremely vulnerable to physical and sexual victimization on the streets. Background on the City of Chicago Task Force on Homeless YouthThe City of Chicago Task Force on Homeless Youth is a network of city and state agency officials, youth providers and advocates, and homeless youth working to address the issue of youth homelessness in Chicago. The group was developed through the advocacy of the H.E.L.L.O. youth activism group.H.E.L.L.O. stands for Homeless Experts Living Life's Obstacles and is composed of homeless and formerly homeless youth and co-sponsored by The Night Ministry, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), and Lakeview Action Coalition. The group is rooted in community organizing and positive youth development principles. The youth educate the public, policy-makers and the media about issues affecting homeless and unaccompanied youth while learning to communicate effectively and non-violently. The group is very diverse, consisting of youth of color, pregnant and parenting teens, and LBGTQ youth.Every year, H.E.L.L.O. hosts a homeless youth "art show and speak out", where youth are invited to submit spoken word and visual arts pieces. Over 200 members of the community attend the show each year. In November of 2009, Mayor Daley attended the Art Show. He spoke briefly and promised the youth in attendance he would meet with them to discuss how the city can better serve homeless youth.In January 2010, 25 members of the H.E.L.L.O. Group had a private meeting with Mayor Daley and other city officials. The youth shared their stories and gave a presentation on different ways the city can improve services for homeless youth. They identified five different areas in which the city could improve services for homeless youth: transportation, education, jobs, increased shelter beds, and improved drop-in services.The Mayor also committed to the creation of a city-wide homeless youth task force. The Department of Family and Support Services hosted the task force. Out of the task force, five work groups were developed to work on the specific issues identified by the youth. Each work group met over several months, researched their area of concern, collected information and developed recommendations that the City of Chicago could use to guide a citywide effort to first improve the plight of homelessness experienced by youth and eventually eradicate this problem. Homeless youth were represented on each workgroup and were given a chance to react to the recommendations. Finally, the task force as a whole approved the recommendations. This report represents the recommendations of the city-wide youth task force.

Children and Youth and Homelessness

A Drop in the Bucket: An Analysis of Resources to Address Home Foreclosure in Chicago

September 1, 2010

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) is Chicago's primary source of funds to redevelop neighborhoods devastated by the home foreclosure crisis. Yet NSP is able to fund a minute fraction of the resources needed to effectively address the crisis. The city of Chicago has another available resource, Tax Increment Financing (TIF), which could be used in a similar way to the way NSP dollars are used, though they are not currently being allocated for this purpose.Of the city's 159 TIF districts, all but three allow TIF funds to be used to purchase and rehabilitate properties. The Sweet Home Chicago ordinance, now pending before the Chicago City Council, would designate a yearly share of TIF funds to build and rehabilitate affordable housing, including foreclosed houses and apartment buildings. If enacted, TIF funds would complement the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, allowing the city to more significantly impact the continuing foreclosure crisis.This report examines the current impact of NSP, the extent to which TIF resources can be used to address foreclosures, and the resources available in TIF funds within neighborhoods hard hit by foreclosures.Key findings include:The Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), launched in 2009, has already depleted 28 percent of its funding through the purchase and rehab of only 83 properties. These properties comprise less than 1 percent of the total number of foreclosures completed in Chicago during 2009 alone.The maximum number of foreclosed properties acquired in any of 27 NSP communities as of July 30, 2010 is 11.32% of home foreclosures in NSP communities occurred within TIF districts. These properties could be rehabilitated as affordable housing using TIF dollars.In 2009, 507 foreclosures were completed and 1,415 foreclosures were filed within TIF districts in communities that were ineligible for NSP.Communities reporting more than 50 foreclosures within a TIF district have uncommitted funds available in the TIFs within their boundaries. Estimates of uncommitted funds that will be available over the life of these TIF districts range from $19 million to $761 million.

Communities and Homelessness

Who's Getting Your Tax Dollars?

December 1, 2009

This report profiles corporations receiving Tax Increment Financing (TIF) money from downtown TIFs since 2000. Where public data is available, it shows the profits for these corporations as well as CEO compensation.The financial data raises questions about why these corporations are in need of Chicagoans' tax dollars -- and what the public benefits are. Most are highly profitable and reward their leadership with extravagant compensation. Corporate TIF recipients are required to maintain and/or increase jobs as a condition of receiving TIF funding, however the city's record of holding them accountable to this has not been stellar.

Facts and Statistics

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Funding and Affordable Housing: An analysis of current TIF resources and City of Chicago TIF-funded housing 1995-2008

July 31, 2009

A serious affordable housing crisis, which has plagued the City of Chicago for more than a decade, has deepened drastically during the last two years due to the rise in foreclosures and unemployment. Meanwhile, through its 158 active Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts, the city has accumulated, and likely will continue to generate, a large surplus of funds that could be used to alleviate the affordable housing problem.TIF districts were created to promote revitalization of blighted or struggling neighborhoods, and the availability of affordable housing is instrumental to a neighborhood's stability. Unfortunately, the city's policy on the use of TIF funds for housing has not gone far enough to adequately address the fundamental need for affordable housing in developing neighborhoods. Expenditures on affordable housing have accounted for too small of a percentage of TIF funds. An even smaller percentage of TIF funds have supported housing affordable to people in the neighborhoods in which it is built and for those with the greatest housing needs.Key findings are:As of 2008, there was nearly $1 billion built up in Chicago's TIF accounts at least $350 million of which has not been dedicated to a particular project.[1]Between 1995-2007, only 4 percent of TIF funds were targeted for development of affordable housing.[2] (Note: 1995 was the first year the Chicago Department of Housing began issuing detailed reports on its production and spending)TIF funds have been used to create housing that is more expensive and targeted for higher incomes than existing housing in the neighborhoods in which it has been created. In 50 percent of the wards in which TIF-funded housing was built, at least half of the units were too expensive for current residents.[3]TIF-funded units go disproportionately to higher income households. Between 1995-2008, only 27 percent of the units created with TIF funds went to the households with the most critical needs -- those earning less than $20,000 a year.[4]Recommendations:Target 20 percent of TIF funds each year for affordable housing.For those targeted dollars, affordable should be defined as housing that meets the needs of neighborhood residents and those with the greatest need.This report was prepared by Chicago Coalition for the Homeless on behalf of the Sweet Home. Chicago Coalition.

Communities and Homelessness

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth in Illinois: 2005

December 1, 2005

This report was prepared for the Illinois Department of Human Services by Timothy P. Johnson and Ingrid Graf of the Survey Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and coordinated by Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.This document reports the findings from a study designed to (1) assess the needs of unaccompanied homeless youth (UHY) in Illinois and (2) provide statewide estimates of the number of these youth in Illinois. For the purposes of this project, an unaccompanied homeless youth was defined as an individual age 21 or younger who, at the time of data collection, was not primarily in the care of a parent or legal guardian and who lacked a safe or stable living arrangement. Wards of the state or youth who had formed stable private living arrangements did not fit our definition.This study included two main data collection efforts: (1) a representative survey of service providers in Illinois who provide assistance to unaccompanied homeless youth and (2) a representative survey of UHY currently receiving services in Illinois.

Children and Youth and Homelessness

Failing to Deliver: One Stop Employment Centers

May 1, 2005

In 1999, CCH started its Day Labor Organizing Project. The project grew from a survey of over five hundred interviews with homeless individuals, conducted in shelters during one evening. The results showed that many of those surveyed were employed, but three-fourths had day labor jobs. Eighty-two percent of these jobs had wages of $5.50 or less, which were too insufficient to enable them to rent their own apartment. CCH worked from 1999 until 2002 on the abuses common to the day labor industry: no pay for overtime, transportation fees, and race, gender, and age discrimination. Day laborers continued to face homelessness because, ultimately, even under the best working environment, temporary work at low wages leaves workers in poverty. While organizing in shelters with day laborers, CCH discovered that job seekers were seeking services at local Workforce Centers. Often referred to as One-Stop centers because of the concentrated services available in one place, the centers are supposed to be a resource to job seekers that provides career training and employment services to the unemployed and underemployed. Job seekers, particularly day laborers, sought services that would lead to permanent work at livable wages. As organizers from CCH continued to hear from One-Stop clients living in shelters, we found that many were being placed into temporary jobs with low-wages and their need for skills training was not being met. The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless developed a test project to evaluate the effectiveness of the services at the One-Stop centers from January to July of 2004. The project shadowed 16 One-Stop participants as they navigated the system of services over a period of six months, as well as spoke to over 35 job seekers during that same period. To broaden the scope of our research, in August and September of 2004 CCH organized 30 volunteers from the community to survey participants at the One-Stop centers throughout the city. This report is the result of 170 interviews conducted during that time period. Overall, the research revealed that respondents were not satisfied with the services they received through the One-Stop centers. Had respondents received the services they requested, they may have been able to achieve self-sufficiency through wage or skill increases. However, over half of respondents did not receive the services they requested. While many people reported that developing a career plan with a job developer was beneficial, only one-fifth of respondents had created one. Also, most respondents received job training (69 percent), but 45 percent of those individuals reported that job training was not geared toward job placement.

Jobs and Homelessness

Buying Sex: A Survey of Men in Chicago

May 1, 2004

On April 23, 2004 staff of the CCH and 42 volunteers conducted one-on-one interviews with 159 men in nine popular Chicago bars, on the streets of high volume 'bar-areas' in scattered neighborhoods throughout the city, and at Chicago's Union Station. The Prostitution Alternatives Round Table (PART), a project of the CCH decided to make contact with some men who may pay for sexual services in Chicago to determine their characteristics, the frequency with which they paid for sex acts, their interactions with law enforcement, their knowledge of the plight of women and girls involved, and their attitudes about the sex trade industry. Why interview customers? Strategies to combat both legal and illegal aspects of the sex trade seldom focus on the demand that fuels this industry. Research in Chicago indicates that many women and girls in the sex trade experience homelessness and are victims of violence, abuse and exploitation, and that some male customers are violent and exploitative. Yet, there is little research on the customers of women in the sex trade industry. Only two researchers, Martin Monto and John Lowman, have done research with men in North America who buy sex. The reasons are obvious: It is difficult to determine and construct a representative sample of sex trade customers due to the clandestine nature of the industry. It is also likely that many male customers will be reluctant to admit that they pay for sex for a variety of reasons, including the fact that it is against the law.


Unlocking Options for Women: A Survey of Women in Cook County Jail

April 1, 2002

On October 31, 2001, 60 members of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless conducted in-depth, one-on-one surveys with 235 of the 1,117 women detained that day in Cook County Jail. These surveys were designed and conducted to gain an understanding of women's lives that may dictate and support policy initiatives and further direct service providers in assisting those in need. This study was conducted to document the lives of women detained in Cook County Jail and promote understanding of their many experiences. It reveals a great deal about the lives, current circumstances, and future hopes of 235 women detained that day.

Criminal Justice System and Homelessness; Women and Homelessness

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