Up to $500 to be awarded, with applications due this week
The coronavirus pandemic amplifies the hardships experienced by people who are homeless as well as those who have been homeless and at risk of facing it again.
Responding to pressing community need, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) has created the CCH Mutual Aid Fund. The fund will provide direct cash support of up to $500 to Illinois residents in need.
Applications will be accepted from Monday, May 11 through Friday, May 15.
CCH grassroots leaders – people who have experienced homelessness and work in partnership with CCH staff – run the fund. Leaders designed the fund and will decide which requests receive support.
“Tragically, the homeless community has been overlooked and underserved. The COVID-19 crisis is no exception. It’s important that the Mutual Aid Fund is governed by people with lived experience because we have a unique perspective on the needs of our community,” said Edrika Fulford, a grassroots leader and founding member of the Mutual Aid Committee.
“As an organization that works to build power for people who are often pushed to the side, it is important to CCH that we create a fund run by our leaders,” added Community Organizer Alyssa Rodriguez.
The 5-day application period will open at 9 a.m. Monday. People can apply online, in English or Spanish and at any hour, through the CCH website – www.chicagohomeless.org– until 5 p.m. on Friday, May 15.
Applicants also can apply over the phone, at (312) 641-4148. Phone calls will be answered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday. On the final day, May 15, calls will be taken from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. If phone lines are busy, applicants can leave a message with their phone number and a CCH operator will call them back to fill out an application. Spanish-speaking operators will be available.
The fund is open to residents of Illinois who are currently homeless or have been homeless in the past and at risk of becoming homeless again. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, or if they are an unaccompanied youth, at least 16 years old. Undocumented individuals and permanent residents are welcome to apply. No more than one grant per household will be awarded.
The fund will have up to $150,000 to distribute, thanks to support given by the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund, Homestead Affordable Development Corporation, Jay Pritzker Foundation, and over 100 individual donors.
CCH knows that requests for support will be greater than available funding. It continues to accept designated donations so that it can assist as many people as possible. If funds remain available, a second application period will be announced at a later date. Individuals interested in supporting the fund can donate at www.chicagohomeless.org/MutualAid
“With over 80,000 people in Chicago experiencing homelessness, we know that this fund cannot help everyone facing hardship. But we hope that it can make a difference in the lives of those we can reach as we continue to advocate for broader systems change, putting both funding and policies in place that will end homelessness once and for all,” said Doug Schenkelberg, CCH’s Executive Director.