Some 6,000 people in the city of Chicago are experiencing homelessness. Approximately 1,500 of them are unsheltered. They sleep on sidewalks, in cars, or in tents pitched under freeways. One out of every six Chicagoans who are homeless are veterans, and one in three are youth, who are especially vulnerable on the streets at night.
While in Chicago, I met with leaders at the Northside Housing and Support Services and at Streetwise, a organization that is giving people an opportunity to begin working their way out of poverty. (A few months after I returned from Chicago to Taos, I met Andy Patrick of VII Photo Agency in San Francisco. While living in Chicago, Andy helped found Streetwise. It is a small world! See: www.streetwise.org.)
Studio apartments on the north side of Chicago rent for $1,250 or more a month. A single person making $10 an hour, a rate well above the Federal minimum wage, still cannot afford to rent a studio apartment. Clearly, the lack of affordable housing, coupled with low wages, leaves many unable to buy or rent a home or apartment. According to All Chicago, an organization committed to “making homelessness history,” nearly 90,000 Illinoisans we have full-time employment are still living in poverty. Despite positive unemployment trends nationally, the unemployment rate is Chicago is 10.2%.