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Paul's Plan to Reduce Homelessness in Chicago

The homeless among us are Chicagoans. Chicagoans who must be respected with dignity as well as supported equally with every other vulnerable and neglected population in our communities. To meet the homelessness challenge, we must recognize that chronic homelessness is almost never simply an issue of housing. It is more often a consequence of the confluence of personal behavioral and environmental factors that call for a holistic, whole-of-government response to stop well-understood institutional cycles. Chicago’s last comprehensive plan to prevent and address homelessness was drafted in 2011. The last progress report on the goals of that plan was in April 2017 – nearly 6 years ago.

Paul will renew the role of city government in meeting that challenge by:

Convening an interagency homelessness council that includes relevant city, county, state and federal actors and non-profit social service providers to coordinate holistic strategic planning that assures that wrap-around health, behavioral health, reentry (returning citizens) and housing services and programs are available as well as aligned. Policies and resources must be taken to scale to deliver supportive housing environments necessary to end well-understood cycles of chronic homelessness. To do so will require that we diagnose and address root causes through wrap-around social services - drug and addiction, mental health, occupational training and workforce development, and domestic violence centers among others. 

Ramping up outreach, in-reach, and engagement efforts to identify and track people experiencing chronic homelessness, linking them then to housing and service interventions in their communities. This involves partnership and information sharing across outreach teams and coordination with other systems - including hospitals and emergency departments, prisons and jails, libraries, law enforcement and community health and service providers. Coordination with the goal to reduce the cycle between homelessness and a variety of temporary institutional placements or involvements.

Implementing a housing-first orientation and response that emphasizes permanent housing, with the right level of services, as the goal for people experiencing chronic homelessness.

Prioritizing the chronically homeless for placement in existing supportive housing through data-driven approaches that target those in greatest need.

Projecting the need for additional supportive housing, reallocating funding and taking it to scale to elevate government solutions above what are routinely temporary and reactive approaches. 

Facilitating and leveraging all forms of Medicaid and behavioral health funding for services in supportive housing to assure that housing solutions result in support environments needed for sustained, stable outcomes. The federal government affords the latitude and discretion to state governments to adapt Medicaid plans to cover housing-related and supportive services, further supplemented with mental health and substance abuse and treatment grants. 

Developing a cadre of community-based case workers to help those experiencing homelessness increase their income through employment opportunities and connections to all mainstream benefits and income supports (for example, Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Income benefits, as well as workforce programming).  

Removing obstacles to new and affordable housing. This includes strategies to increase the supply of affordable housing by repurposing vacant buildings and increasing the pool of alternative housing options such as basement or garden units.

Securing the network of unoccupied residential buildings for turnover and renovation support to community-based homeless service providers and developers to create novel streams for bringing online temporary and affordable housing, including but not limited to taking to scale and securing future funding streams for the DOH/DFSS Shelter Acquisition Program and working in network and coordinately with organizations like La Casa Norte, Cornerstone Community Outreach and Northside Housing and Supportive Services.

Anticipatorily capping property taxes targeted through the use of data-driven, income and needs-based analysis and projections to dampen housing destabilization and homelessness arising from gentrification.

Developing specialized strategies for specific homeless subpopulations, most notably youth and returning citizens

“Mayor Lightfoot has utterly failed to address the homelessness issue in Chicago, with the recent encampments at O’Hare Airport becoming a national disgrace and a clear sign that she has no plan to solve this problem. I’ll work to address the root causes of homelessness and provide the support and infrastructure needed to get people off the streets and make our city safer.”



Read More of Paul's Plans for Chicago:

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