On The Record
Experts Respond to Questions about the Biggest Misperceptions among the General Public about Homelessness
What if there was a U.S. city where no families had homes? In a way, that city exists. There are 238,110 people in families who are homeless on any given night in the U.S., according to data collected by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. To give an idea of what that means: a city made up of just those people would be larger than Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, and have twice the population of Springfield, Illinois. Furthermore, the figure 238,110 does not take into account those who might be called the “hidden homeless,” people who are living doubled-up with friends or family or excluded for other reasons from estimates of people without homes.
Myths and misperceptions persist about the people in this phantom city. UNCENSORED asked four professionals who work with homeless individuals in various capacities to identify some of those myths and misperceptions, reveal where they come from, and discuss ways to fight them.
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Given the recognition and support that Run Home Chicago’s first inaugural race has received from local organizations, homeless advocates and hundreds of Chicagoans, imagine the potential for our future races and how they could positively and genuinely improve the lives of our homeless community. With over 26 years of experience, The Inner Voice Inc. can attest to having gone far and beyond to achieve incredible growth, which our Run Home Chicago race can only dream of. After 26 years of hard work, The Inner Voice is Chicago’s largest single agency serving single adults and families, and is the access point for emergency and trasitional shelter for any and all Chicagoans who find themselves homeless and needing help.
Every year Inner voice assists at least 13,000 homeless people all over Chicago, thanks to the expansion of its operations to nine shelter residences, six social service programs and three permanent housing programs for persons with disabilities. Last year, Inner Voice provided 315,781 meals, placed 571 individuals into full-time jobs and helped 731 households secure permanent, stable housing. The Inner Voice offers Housing and Rental Assistance Programs, Interim Housing Programs, Employment and Educational Programs and Vertan Housing and Supportive Services Programs, all to help men, women and families obtain temporary or permanent housing, conseling services, utility assistance, or get help maintaining housing when emergencies occur.
Although these accomplishments are significant, the true measure of the agency’s success will be a steady reduction in the number of households that are impacted by homelessness. In the years to come, the Inner Voice will continue to partner with groups and individuals that share their vision to dramatically reduce Chicago’s homeless population.
To run with the Inner Voice, please view their Charity Profile Page on our website for more information.
To reshape the lives of homeless Chicagoans throughout our city, Run Home Chicago is gathering runners, walkers, our energy and our thoughts to emphasize the prevalence and state of our homeless population. While this is our first attempt in gathering a community of hundreds of Chicago’s runners and homelessness supporters for Run Home Chicago, Lincoln Park Community Shelter regularly uses community involvement to empower homeless men and women to make life changes. The Lincoln Park Community Shelter (LPCS) is a comprehensive social service agency serving adult men and women who are experiencing homelessness. Located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, the LPCS has been providing shelter and other basic needs to our homeless neighbors for 25 years. Today, the LPCS provides interim housing, meals, and a targeted array of social services to over 300 people each year.
The entire premise of creating an uplifting organization began when a group of concerned neighbors in the Lincoln Park area got together to discuss a way to help homeless people in their community. Given these concerns, a partnership was formed with four neighboring churches, and on February 12, 1985, the Lincoln Park Community Shelter opened its doors to a handful of homeless neighbors. And since its inception, and with 25 years of experience, LPCS has grown in terms of sleeping facilities, kitchen facilities, showers, storage rooms, the creation of a meal program, capcity for more beds and social serivces to help guests return to self sufficiency.
Lincoln Park Community Shelter has a variety of programs to help their clients get back on their own feet and lead stable lives. LPCS’s Intermin Housing Community currently serves up to 35 guests each night year-round, providing meals, storage space, showers and laundry facilities for guests. While an average length of stay is three moths, there is no time limit as long as guests are making progress toward their goals. LPCS also has an On Track Program, that provides employers with a list of resumes of their LPCS’s guests and Graduates; this program challenges guests to see beyond the present and immediate basic needs, and allows for them to plan ahead and look towards the future of achieving their goals. Guests can choose to follow more than one of the following tracks: Track 1: Addictions Recovery, Track 2: Mental & Physical Health, or Track 3: Employment & Education, with a goal of returning to self-sufficiency through improved social functioning and indepenedent living. Also, LPCS’s Graduate Community has continued access to services, including meals, rental assistance, access to donated items, case management and referrals and continued guidance and support of the LPCS community of stuaff, volunteers and other guests, a true embodiment of LPCS mission and community-based approach.
If you’d like to run the Run Home Chicago races on Lincoln Park Community Shelter’s team, please visit their Charity Profile Page on our website; they already have 33 runners!
This year’s Run Home Chicago
first inaugural race could not have been as influential or paramount for Chicago’s homeless community had it not been for the hard work of our local non-profit organzations. With 15 years of experience, Renaissance Social Services Inc.
(RSSI) is helping end homelessness in Chicago through prevention, housing and supportive services and has continued to expand their agency’s visibility to the general public; these consequential and trivial initiatives not only promote a space and context for our Run Home Chicago race, but also help challenge the everyday misconceptions of those affected by homelessness.
Since the inception of its founding, Renaissance Social Services has taken a two-fold approach to providing quality housing to Chicago’s homeless, which rests on the separation between supportive services and building management. This clear split was initially desgined by Nancy Kapp, a for-profit developer of affordable housing and founder of RSSI, who realized that the low-income residents in the buildings she developed and managed needed more than a safe place to live. Kapp also recognized the residents wanted help with the skills necessary to escape the cyclical nature and systemic issues of poverty. With a push for a collaboration between business sector stakeholders and non-profit organizations within the community, Kapp founded the Board of Directors for Renaissance social Services Inc., and since that time, RSSI’s values and approach have been an integral aspect to Chicago’s supportive housing community.
Working with a multi-faceted client base, RSSI collaborates with developers and managers of affordable housing units to create environments in which their clients feel safe and comfortable within the space of their own homes. Over the course of working in the field, RSSI’s clients served have suffered from particular health issues that render housing affordability a more arduous task: 91% have mental health issues, 78% have substance abuse issues, 27% have physical health issues, 11% have suffered from domestic violence and 10% have HIV/AIDS. Bearing in mind the unique situations of every client, RSSI works carefully alongside disabled individuals and families to help facilitate the housing application process.
If you are interested in running with Renaissance Social Services at the Run Home Chicago race, pelase visit their Charity Team Profile on our site to learn more.
We all know that becoming a passionate race runner is tough, a simple fact that all participants of our Run Home Chicago races could easily vouch for. But for Inspiration Corporation, our race highlights a more complex transition that they strive to achieve everyday–that is, helping people affected by homelessness and poverty achieve economic, domestic and emotional self-sufficiency. As a partner organization of Run Home Chicago, Inspiration Corporation is running with us to spread awareness of their endeavors and mission throughout the city of Chicago.
Founder of Inspiration Kitchens, a food service training program that provides homeless Chicagoans with culinary skills, Inspiration Corporation has helped hundreds of individuals with very different situations secure temporary transitional jobs and restore a sense of self-esteem, dignity and self-sufficiency in their everyday lives. With a capacity to serve over 3,000 Chicagoans annually, characterized by chronic homelessness, unemployment or underemployment, mental illness, substance abuse and social isolation, Inspiration Corporation provides individuals with the opportunity, will-power and skills to be able to change their work, home and economic situation. The average participant age at Inspiration Corporation is 43 years, with most having little or no prior work history. Over 80% of entering participants have no source of income upon entry, while the programs also serve people with disabilities (15%) and veterans (9%).
As a case in point of the Kitchen’s sucess, a financially indebted Willie Child, who came to Inpsiration Kitchens in the Fall of 2010 after already pursuing training in the culinary field, could no longer substantiate the costs for his culinary classes and books in addition to supporting his family. After connecting with Inspiration Kitchen, Willie was driven to success, and felt that “they actually cared, and I knew that it made them feel good if their students succeeded.” After graduating from training with Inspiration Kitchens, Willie was able to secure a temporary transitional job with HoneyBaked Ham for 30 days, which turned into a permanent part-time position after the externship period expired.
While the organization can vouch for many success stories, it faces daily pressing challenges in helping individuals and families obtain greater self-sufficiency– from overflowing wait lists to overbearing caseloads, it is very evident that demand for affordable housing continues to exceed its supply. In light of these challenges, Inspiration Corporation will be running in the Run Home Chicago races on June 10th to highlight the positive outcomes of their work and spread awareness concerning their mission and everyday activities. If you’d like to run with Inspiration Corporation, please take a look at their Charity Team Profile on our site.
When the Run Home Chicago
race is all said and done, providing a variety of services and support for Chicago’s homeless communities will still be the number one priority for a large number of local advocates and community organizations such as Beacon Therapeutic Diagnostic and Treatment Center
, a multi-site diagnostic and treatment center for high-risk homeless adolescents, teens, and their families. As a vital leader in the social services arena with a particular focus on child and family homelessness, Beacon Therapeutic has partnered with Run Home Chicago to advance their mission and fundamental belief that we can end homelessness “one child and family at a time.”
Beacon Therapeutic’s strong foundation in serving Chicago’s homeless population dates back to 1968, when a group of concerned parents on Chicago’s southwest side felt their children needed a better learning environment. To meet those needs, they created the “Beacon School”, a private special education facility serving children ages 3 to 21. And since then, Beacon Therapeutic has serviced a broad population in the metropolitan region through its three core programs and key initiatives
. The first of these are the Therapeutic Day Schools
for students ages 3-21 who are not successful in traditional school settings thanks to their special learining and behavioral needs. Second is Beacon’s Homeless Outreach Program
, which has made the non-profit the largest provider of mobile mental health and support services to homeless families in the city of Chicago. And third, Beacon’s Outpatient Mental Health Services
deliver innovative, intensive outpatient day treatment care to young children (3-5) through the Little Intensive Outpatient Program and to older youth (6-17) via the Big Intensive Outpatient Program.
Beacon Therapeutic’s capacity to provide stability to over 700 families and 1,600 children annually during transitional housing periods is a reflection of their well-defined care philosophy that facilitates self-sufficiency, independence, empowerment and self-fulfillment for all. For example, after witnessing a sharp rise in children and families in Chicago homeless shelters, Beacon’s highly-skilled, licensed clinical staff immediately delivered mobile mental health services directly to clients in those facilities to help them rebuild their lives and find permanent housing, as well as essential follow-up care for up to six months.
Beacon’s current initiative is the Family Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) Program, a collaboration project between Beacon Therapeutic (lead agency), Heartland Alliance, Inner Voice and Voices for Illinois Children, which was launched via funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the National Center on Family Homelessness. The project targets mother, child and family well-being to mitigate the impact of homelessness on child development by improving the housing, health and well-being of homeless and at-risk young mothers and children. To do so, FACT has formed a special treatment team designed to provide comprehensive, community-based psychiatric treatment, rehabilitation and support to those with serious and persistent mental illness who do not readily benefit from clinic-based services.
To learn more about Beacon’s efforts, view their show on Chicago Access Network Television’s (CAN TV) Hotline 21, which airs every Wednesday at 4:30-4:55pm through June 25th, 2012. Tune in to their episode on June 6th for updates about Beacon’s initiatives and our Run Home Chicago 10 K race, 5 K race and Kids’ Dash.
Beacon Therapeutic is running alongside Run Home Chicago for two reasons: to remind their clients, staff members and homelessness advocates that children and families have thrived from their services, and let those in need of their services know they are ready to help. While research indicates that every year 600,000 families with 1.35 million children experience homelessness in the United States, Beacon Therapeutic’s level of care and their state-of-the-art programs, combined with a strong culture of collaboration, have allowed Beacon to tackle important issues around care, treatment and resources– and pave a new path to ending homelessness.
To run with Beacon Therapeutic in onE of the Run Home Chicago races on June 10th, please visit their page on our site here.
You can also visit Beacon Therapeutic’s website here.