On a Thursday night in late June, Tavarion Laquon Foster put on his best clothes — khaki pants, black loafers, black shirt buttoned almost to the top — and went downtown to celebrate his college scholarship from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
Growing up, Tavarion hadn’t thought of himself as homeless. He was 6 years old when he began going to sleep at night without a bed to call his own, but in his mind, moving from home to home, and bed to bed, was just life.
Comprising a majority of the Chicago City Council, 27 aldermen joined in support of a proposal championed by the Bring Chicago Home (BCH) campaign that would reduce homelessness in Chicago with funds generated from a one-time tax increase on the small fraction of city property sales sold for more than $1 million. Under the legislation, more than 94% of all property sales in Chicago would be exempt from a proposed increase in the city’s Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT), closely echoing a concept that Lightfoot, herself, repeatedly prescribed during her campaign for mayor.
In August 2018, CCH, American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, and National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty sent a series of letters to 15 communities raising concerns about their panhandling ordinances. At least eight communities – including the city of Chicago – acted to change their ordinances to comply with the U.S. Constitution. This month, the three organizations sent letters to eight municipalities that failed to act, warning that local panhandling ordinances in those communities are unconstitutional and must be repealed.
A new CCH report finds that Chicago’s hefty homeless population includes nearly 14,000 people who are working and more than 18,000 who have been to college – countering common misconceptions that anyone who collects a paycheck or pursues an academic degree is immune from one of life’s most desperate economic straits. The analysis, drawn from data compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and the city of Chicago, estimates that the city’s homeless population surpassed 86,000 people in 2017, the latest year for which figures are available.