By Ikenna Asomba, Editor
CHICAGO– Mayor of Chicago, Illinois, Rahm Emanuel has announced a commitment to support 1,600 new units of housing for individuals and families experiencing homelessness in Chicago.
A statement on Wednesday says, the commitment is part of the Mayor’s five-year housing plan and will result in a 21 percent increase in available housing for Chicago’s most vulnerable residents.
“Everyone should have a roof over their heads, and every child should have a safe space to call home,” Mayor Emanuel said.
According to him, “By creating more housing that is stable, safe and secure for the most vulnerable among us, we can help put an end to homelessness in our city.”
The 1,600 housing units will be allocated from the City’s existing housing programs and resources and earmarked for homeless residents including those who experiencing multiple barriers to housing, and are unable to maintain housing stability without supportive services.
The expansion will include both non-time limited rental assistance and new subsidized housing units to be used as permanent supportive housing units.
Through the five-year housing planning process, the City along with CHA and other stakeholders will identify the projected cost and investment plan to meet this commitment, leveraging existing multi-family affordability financing programs, CHA vouchers, and the new Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool.
The Chicago Continuum of Care, a partnership consisting of dozens of public and private partners who work to prevent and end homelessness in Chicago, will collaborate to identify funding sources to support wrap around social services to accompany the housing units. By combining housing with social service supports, Chicago can reduce the number of residents experiencing homelessness.
The new units will serve to more quickly move individuals out of Chicago’s shelter system or off the street by providing housing and the supports needed to help individuals and families gain or regain independence. Services are designed to build independent living and tenancy skills, while connecting people with health-care, treatment, and employment services. Currently Chicago has approximately 7,600 publicly- and privately-funded supportive housing units.
“Time and again, Mayor Emanuel has shown leadership to leverage resources and generate partnerships with our community to provide solutions for our residents experiencing homelessness,” Nonie Brennan, Chief Executive Officer of All Chicago said, adding that, “Based on the success that Chicago has seen with various initiatives, we are confident that together, we can secure housing for those individuals who need it most.”
“Mayor Emanuel’s leadership is critical as community partners and the City work to effectively address the well-established need for more affordable, supportive housing throughout Chicago,” Betsy Benito, CSH Director in Illinois said.
Benito said, “The Mayor and City are going beyond an acknowledgement of the problem. They are recognizing that housing is what solves homelessness, and are stepping up to find and align the resources necessary to create the homes and supports we know will permanently house hundreds of our neighbors now living on the streets and in shelters.”
“Mayor Emanuel’s administration has made continued, strategic investments to support this vulnerable population,” Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler said.
According to Butler, “Housing is a key component in helping those who are experiencing homelessness regain control of their lives and we look forward to continuing to build out this plan with the Mayor and the Continuum of Care.”
Since Mayor Emanuel took office in 2011, the City of Chicago has increased funding for homeless initiatives by more than 10 percent and invested in new programs targeting veterans, youth, families and victims of domestic violence.
As part of the City of Chicago’s 2018 Budget, Mayor Emanuel announced an additional $1 million investment to help support Chicago’s shelter infrastructure, a critical investment to support capacity and maintain the City’s shelter system.
This investment will help programs operate more effectively and efficiently, while providing the needed services for the clients to thrive. This increase will allow shelters to better support program operational costs, hire additional case managers, and connect individuals experiencing homelessness with permanent housing solutions.
Recognizing that the solution to homelessness is housing, Mayor Emanuel, together with the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) and the Center for Supportive Housing, created the innovative Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool (FHSP). The one-of-a-kind supportive housing rental subsidy model combines both housing/rental subsidy expertise and intensive case management to effectively house residents who are experiencing homelessness.
With a $1.8 million investment from the City of Chicago and CHA, the FHSP will establish a rental subsidy source that will allow partners to quickly house and provide supportive services to some of Chicago’s most challenging and costly homeless populations, including individuals who are high users of emergency rooms and the criminal justice system.
Last year Mayor Emanuel launched the Housing Homeless Families program, an unprecedented joint initiative with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (the Coalition) and its HomeWorks Campaign to address homelessness impacting families in the most at-risk communities.
Using funds derived by the City of Chicago’s surcharge on the house sharing industry, the City has worked with the Coalition to connect 100 homeless families in high crime communities with permanent housing.