A recent report by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless found at least 65,000 people were experiencing homelessness in the city in 2020, which includes those who temporarily stayed with others in addition to people living in shelters and on the street.
Statewide, nearly 40,000 Illinois public school students experienced homelessness and nearly 110,000 Illinois residents experienced homelessness by temporarily staying with others.
Temporarily staying with others, or doubling up, is the way most people experience homelessness in Illinois, according to the report. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development excludes doubling up from its definition of homelessness. That agency’s count of people experiencing homelessness in Chicago in 2020 was vastly different: 5,390 people.
Honni Harris, a member of the Bring Chicago Home coalition, experienced living doubled up during COVID having stayed at her sister’s place.
“That was difficult because there was no leaving out and people had to stay in,” Harris said. “Emotionally, it’s horror.”
Advocates with the Bring Chicago Home campaign have proposed increasing the Real Estate Transfer Tax on properties over $1 million by 1.9%, which they say would bring in $160 million a year to provide a dedicated funding stream to address homelessness.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s 2023 budget proposal includes $10 million to reduce homelessness. Sam Carlson, manager of research and outreach at Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, said it’s not enough.
“There have been small investments like this from year to year, but what we need is more than that,” Carlson said. “We need dedicated funding toward homelessness and housing solutions.”