The seven-year, Plan to End Homelessness 2.0 in the City of Chicago includes an additional $2.5 million to fight homelessness from existing city funds. It does not require new taxation. This breaks down into $500,000 for job placement and preparation of 220 people, and $2 million to fight youth homelessness: $1 million for new or expanded support centers throughout the entire City; and $1 million to serve 400 youth annually with 100 year-round shelter beds, a 38 percent increase. The City of Chicago Task Force on Homeless Youth is also legitimized as the body of advocates to address the issue.
Plan 2.0 includes five additional goals beyond fighting Youth Homelessness and Advocacy/Civic Engagement:
1. Crisis response systems that prevent homelessness whenever possible and rapidly return people to stable housing. The key objective is to coordinate prevention (a one-time grant to pay rent and utilities), emergency shelter and interim housing by the end of 2013. By 2019, prevention and diversion resources should increase twofold from $2.2 million to $4.4 million.
2. Access to stable and affordable housing, which means increasing rapid rehousing units from 737 to 2,768 and permanent supportive housing from 6,842 to 8,814. Before these units are complete, a central referral system will prioritize access to permanent supportive housing by “vulnerability,” those most likely to die if they remain on the streets, and the length of their homelessness.
3. Increased opportunities for meaningful employment upon leaving homelessness assistance. In the short-term, the Plan seeks to build more partnerships between workforce programs, emergency shelters, and interim housing programs. This would also include a standard employment readiness assessment. In the long term, opportunities would be improved for ex-offenders by increasing clemency and expungement legal services. Micro-lending programs could also be administrated to encourage entrepreneurs.
4. Cross-systems integration would increase collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Jesse Brown VA Medical Center as well as the Illinois Department of Corrections. Increased services would aid homeless students and families in Chicago Public Schools.
5. Increased management capacity to implement Plan 2.0 as well as the federal Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009.
- Suzanne Hanney