Due to a coalition that I spearheaded, the Mayor just announced a major change in the City's approach to addressing homelessness. For years I have advocated for the City to make our homeless residents a priority by using a plan that shows long term results. In the past, our challenge has been the many barriers that chronically homeless individuals face within the shelter system. A pilot project that will permanently house people immediately and will include social services for each individual is now underway, starting with the homeless encampments in Uptown along Lake Shore Drive. I want to thank Doug Shenkelberg from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless for his organization's leadership in working with me to advance this proven model as a priority for the City of Chicago in helping the residents that live in encampments.
Two weeks ago, the Dept. of Family & Support Services assessed the specific needs of approximately 75 people living along Lake Shore Drive, and work is now underway to get them into housing within the next 90 days. The City will take what is learned from this effort and duplicate it in other parts of the City where there are other homeless encampments.
I don't expect this to be a one time fix. The long term solution for our city, is to make affordable housing a top priority. This is the only way we can reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness. For now, I will monitor this pilot project and assist in finding funding to make sure it is successful here and throughout Chicago.