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Surprising Faces of Homelessness

The guy standing at a highway offramp with a cardboard sign is clearly homeless. But he's not an accurate representative of the 85,000 people in Chicago who experience homlessness each year.

In our five-part blog series, we take a look at just who is homeless in Chicago. You may be surprised.

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20% of homeless Chicagoans also have a job - so it's not an issue of being lazy.


Our blog post exploring the plight of the working homeless reveals:

  • Low wage workers who can't get first and last month's rent together often stay in rent-by-night motel rooms. Way more expensive in the long run, they're stuck in a cycle of never being able to move to traditional rental properties.

  • Three in five personal bankruptcies are due to medical bills - starting folks on the path towards homelessness.

  • Address and background checks that are part of most job applications are a disqualifer for homeless job seekers.

  • Lack of access to laundry and showers make it difficult to stay employed

Read More

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There were 16,450 Chicago Public School students without a permanent home during last year's school year.

The post has a few interesting findings:

  • Homeless students who get sick are out of school longer than their housed classmates - setting them back academically.

  • Anxiety surrounding where the student will sleep tomorrow lowers students' academic performance.

  • There's a clear linkage between getting sufficient nutrition and test performance.

  • Students may trade sex for a place to stay in an attempt to continue their education.

Read More

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Since Illinois is the top ten states with the largest veteran homeless population, we felt we needed to take a look at this group, too.

In the post that looks a thte homeless Chicagoans who have served in some branch of the military, you'll learn:

  • Veterans are 50% more likely to become homeless than other Americans

  • They remain homeless for about 2 years longer than non-veterans

  • Issues related to their service make them more likely to experience homelessness.

  • Combat deployments make veterans more likely to divorce - coming home without a social support system to stay out of homelessness. For females deployed to combat, this liklihood rises to a 50% divorce rate in her first 5 years.

Read More

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There are 3,000 LGBTQ-identifying youth who are homeless in Chicago. Some surprising facts to be found in the this blog post:

  • Even today, 25% of kids who come out to their parents will eventually be kicked out of the family home because of it.

  • Chicago is a destination for many teens kicked out from the more conservative suburbs.

  • LGBT youth attempt suicide 24% more frequently than their straight counterparts.

  • They are three times more likely to be sexually assualted and three times more likely to engage in "survival sex"

  • One in five transgender youth will experience homelessness in their life - and stay homeless for an average of 52 months - way longer than general homeless youth

Read More.

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Our justice system releases 600,000 people into the general community each year, having determined that they've approprately served their time for the crime they committed.

On the outside, though, a prison-to-homelessness pipeline makes them nearly 10 times more likely to be homeless than the general public.

In this post, learn:

  • Studies found the formerly incarcerated to be better workers with more longevity than the general population.

  • Yet they are 50% less likely to get called for an interview as a result of their incarceration.

  • There are 118 jobs that former prisoners can be prevented from holding - including solid waste site operator, slaughterhouse processor, architect, roofer, land surveyor and more.

  • Depending on their crime and community, they must keep 1,000, 2,000 or even 3,000 feet away from parks, schools and a variety of other places where kids may be - zoning them out of nearly every corner of the communities they are required to live post-incarceration.

  • Landords can discriminate on the basis of criminal records when deciding who to rent to, and some former offendors can be completely barred from being admitted to public housing or receiving Section 8 housing vouchers.

Read More.

Our Sleepout For Homelessness helps Care For Friends continue to make a difference in the lives of Chicago's homeless. Click the button below to learn more:

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