For 30 years, since 1980, 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.”
CCH leads strategic campaigns, community outreach, and public policy initiatives that target the lack of affordable housing in metropolitan Chicago and Illinois. CCH also presses for access to jobs, training, and public schools. Our policy specialists, public interest attorneys, and community organizers work with people hurt by homelessness - mothers with children, unaccompanied youth, ex-offenders, prostitution survivors, and low-wage workers.
We are the only Illinois non-profit dedicated to advocating public policies that can curb – and one day, end – homelessness. CCH works to preserve the shelter safety net, to secure more affordable housing and rents, boost access to transitional jobs, support services, and schools, and create re-entry options and alternatives to incarceration.
Community organizers train homeless and recently homeless people to advocate on these key issues. More than 4,500 people a year participate in weekly to monthly outreach at 30 shelters, transitional housing, and street programs across Chicago.
CCH staffs the only legal aid office in Illinois dedicated solely to serving homeless people, with focus on students turned away by public schools or denied school services. The Law Project represented 204 clients in the city and suburbs, more than half of them teens and schoolchildren in 2009.
The legal staff includes a youth attorney who works full-time with homeless teens. Most of her clients are unaccompanied youth living on their own, without family to care for them. The Youth Futures mobile legal clinic runs street and school outreach, with weekly hours at Teen Living Programs, the Center on Halsted, and a drop-in youth group that meets at the Broadway Youth Center.
To preserve its independent voice, CCH does not take government funding. Instead, when we advocate for public funds, it’s to create more housing, better services for those who are homeless or at-risk, and help support providers who serve the homeless.
CCH effectively pairs community organizing with advocacy. As an example: Homeless moms helped our housing campaign convince the state to create homeless prevention grants, one-time grants that help families avoid foreclosure or eviction. CCH advocates yearly for funds, and doubled state funding by 2007. Over 10 years more than 91,000 Illinois families were helped, with an average grant of $800 in FY 2008; 86 percent remain housed 18 months later.
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