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Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
September 28, 2017

Letter to the Editor: What city do we want to be?

By Doug Schenkelberg,
CCH Executive Director

As was well-publicized over the past few weeks, the city of Chicago evicted a community of people experiencing homelessness under Lake Shore Drive viaducts on the North Side to make way for a construction project.

When the city set a date to evict the residents, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless filed a lawsuit on behalf of the people in the encampments. Does CCH believe that crumbling bridges should not be rebuilt or that bike lanes are a bad idea or that people should be living on the street? No. We believe everyone has the right to housing, and that it is our collective responsibility to ensure that everyone can access that right.

Our motion to halt the eviction and delay the construction was denied by the judge, and the city evicted the people and disbanded the community. So rather than the city putting resources into transitioning people into permanent housing, resources were put into a line of police standing behind a row of tents, ready to pull them down from their new spot because the city is clearly determined to keep homelessness from being visible in Uptown. Read more.

The Law Project at CCH welcomed two attorneys to its legal team in September.

Tanya T. Gassenheimer serves as the Youth Futures health attorney. Alyssa Phillips holds a two-year Equal Justice Works fellowship, focused on assisting children and teens facing educational barriers. 

Through the Youth Futures mobile legal clinic, Tanya will offer outreach and legal aid to homeless and unaccompanied youth seeking access to Medicaid, health care, and public benefits.

Alyssa’s work will expand Law Project outreach and legal aid to students and youth living in suburban Chicago. She also will advocate on Chicago Public Schools policies impacting homeless student enrollment in preschool, charter and magnet schools. Read more.

A new state law to provide free birth certificates for people experiencing homelessness is another example of “access to records” advocacy by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. 

A similar measure enacted by the Cook County Board covers homeless people as well as residents of domestic violence shelters and people released from incarceration within the previous 90 days. The county ordinance was effective upon adoption in April. The statewide measure will take effect January 1, 2018.

Access to one’s birth certificate is a key issue for many who are homeless, particularly unaccompanied youth living on their own.

Many county clerk’s offices charge a $15 fee for a copy of a birth record, which is used to acquire other legal IDs, including a state ID card. Read more.

On Sunday, October 8, twelve runners on our Team to End Homelessness will run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon! To date, they have raised almost $17,000 to support our mission to prevent and end homelessness.

Please consider supporting one of our amazing runners with a tax-deductible donation. You can find their individual fundraising pages here

If you are interested in running with us next year, we are now recruiting our 2018 team! Contact Claire at csloss@chicagohomeless.org for more information. 


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