Homeless Activists Sleep
at Chicago City Hall
Homeless Activists Sleeping
Overnight Outside City Hall
“The phrase “persistent poverty” implies that poverty persists despite society’s best efforts to end it. The truth is the opposite, that our current economic and political system produces poverty, again and again, despite the best efforts of individuals and families to escape it.”
Homeless Activists slept overnight outside City Hall Tuesday evening on eve of City’s Public Budget Hearing. While the city grapples with $426 million budget hole, Chicago Housing Authority sits on a $440 million surplus
The Chicago Housing Initiative Coalition of Homeless Families, public housing residents and the staff at overcrowded homeless shelters gathered together to protest the budget. Homeless activists took to the front of City Hall located at 121 N. LaSalle where they scamped out and sleep overnight to draw attention to Chicago Housing Authority failure to deliver housing, call for City Council hearing on Chicago’s $440 million accountability problem.
The sit-in protest began Tuesday, October 13th lasted through Wednesday morning 8 a.m. October 14th. People slept on mats with sleeping bags outside City Hall.
The homeless activists with the CHICAGO HOUSING INITIATIVE COALITION are slept overnight outside City Hall to draw attention to problems with the Mayor’s oversight of the Chicago Housing Authority, which is currently withholding 11,000 available housing vouchers from circulation and leaving over 2,800 public housing units vacant, while 122,000 households languish on CHA’s waiting lists, 40% of whom are disabled and 10% of whom are elderly.
Advocates argue that the CHA’s failure to do its job housing Chicago’s poor, elderly, and disabled shifts the burden of helping these families to other City Departments and agencies, each of which is cash-strapped and ill-equipped to handle the needs of homeless families, such as the Chicago Public Schools, which reported 20,000 homeless students last year.
While the City Council engages in rigorous daily budget hearings this month, scrutinizing every line item of City Departments like the Department of Family and Support Services, which in 2016 has only $72 million to spend on homeless services, the Mayor has ignored persistent requests over the last two years for a City Council Hearing on the Chicago Housing Authority’s intentions for its $440 million in stockpiled funds, or the planned use of its roughly $900 million annual budget.
Paulette Fowler, an overnight staff at an overcrowded northside homeless shelter argues, “It’s twisted that in these budget hearings, all the City Departments that provide emergency services to families have to plead and account for every penny, while here on the other side, the Mayor allows the Chicago Housing Authority to stockpile hundreds of millions with no questions asked and refuses to allow a Hearing to move forward. Where is the oversight on this critical area of the city’s resources and services? Why does CHA get a free pass?”
As the City of Chicago aggressively searches for “efficiencies” in the city budget where limited dollars can be stretched further, homeless activists will urge City Council to consider legislative action to hold the Chicago Housing Authority accountable for unspent funds and undelivered services.
Chicago Housing Initiative (CHI) and other advocates are pushing for a Chicago City Council ordinance to ensure public funds intended for affordable housing are used appropriately and to protect the city’s remaining subsidized housing stock. Titled Keeping the Promise, the proposed ordinance would give the City Council substantial new oversight authority over city funds awarded to the CHA.