Finding Shelter: Homelessness in Chicagoland
The Undergraduate Lecture Series on Race, Poverty, and Inequality Winter Quarter Lecture Series co-sponsored with Northwestern Dance Marathon
(1) Faces of Homelessness Panel
ULRPI and DM brought members of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless Speakers Bureau to campus to speak about their experiences. The panel featured two formerly homeless members of Chicago Coalition for the Homeless as well as a Chicago Coalition lawyer working on children’s rights. Panelists shared with students what it was like to experience homelessness in Chicago, describing a typical day or month and helping students to see firsthand how it would feel to be homeless. They discussed the services they used and the services that failed them, and touched on some of the systemic issues that perpetuate homelessness. They also discussed the advocacy work that they are now doing at the state level to secure funding for homelessness prevention services. They also touched on ways that students could get involved in this work, and answered wide ranging questions from the student audience. The event was held on February 12th in University Hall room 121, and student turnout totaled over 80 students.
(2) Keynote Lecture by Jerry Stermer
Jerry Stermer is Governor Pat Quinn’s Chief of Staff, a former NU Adjunct Professor, and the founding president of Voices for Illinois Children. Mr. Stermer spoke on February 15th at 7pm in the McCormick Tribune Forum. His speech was entitled, “From Idealism to Tea Bags: Social Justice in the Obama Era,” and discussed the power of narratives in public life as well as the Illinois budget crisis and its effect on services for the homeless. Northwestern professor Dan Lewis provided the introduction for Mr. Stermer. Student attendance totaled over 60 students as well as a class of high school students from New Trier High School. Notes from his lecture are attached to this email.
(3) Affordable Housing Panel
Panelists: Dr. Ozella Phillips, Clinical Director of the Teen Living Program
Nicole Amlinng, Director of Public Policy for the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness
Charles Hoch, Professor of Urban Planning at University of Illinois Chicago
Geoff Smith, Vice President of the Woodstock Institute
The Affordable Housing Panel was held in University Hall room 101. The panel was moderated by NU student Ehren Dohler, who is very knowledgeable about homelessness issues and frequently volunteers with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. He did a great job of guiding the discussion and keeping panelists on topic. Panelists discussed the history of affordable housing in Chicago, the current situation, and their individual visions for the future, along with answering audience questions. They touched on issues including the tearing down of high rise public housing, the need for high density mixed income housing, the lack of funding from the Illinois budget, and the difficulty of finding housing for youth homeless who have recently aged out of the foster care system.
(4) Youth Homelessness Panel
Panelists: Kathi Crowe, Director of the National Foster Care Coalition
Bernardine Dohrn: Northwestern Law School Professor and founder of the Children and Family Justice Center
Laurene Heybach: Director of the Law Project, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
Joe Hollendoner: Director of the Broadway Youth Center for Howard Brown Health Center
Natalie Smith: Training and Education Manager, National Runaway Switchboard
The Youth Homelessness Panel was held in Annenberg room G15 and had a huge turnout of over 80 students and community members. The panel was moderated by Jackie Grinvalds, an NCDC site leader for the Friday Sack Lunches site and a member of Interfaith Action Coalition. Panelists were from a wide range of perspectives on youth homelessness, and they discussed the causes of youth homelessness along. The also discussed what their organizations are doing to address those causes as well as their efforts to shelter currently homeless youth. Several panelists commented on the current budget crisis in Illinois as a major hindrance for them.
(5) Case Study Dinner and Discussion Event, co-sponsored with the NCDC Education Committee
What would you do if you were in charge of state-funded organization for homeless citizens? In this interactive simulation, we assigned roles to discussion participants and set-up a scenario where they would have to cut three of four support programs from a fictional organization. The participants, acting as various community members, had to come to a consensus as to which program they would keep.
(6) Alternative Spring Break Volunteer Trip co-sponsored with Alternative Student Breaks
This week long trip to volunteer at a homeless shelter will occur during spring break this March. It will give students a chance to experience firsthand the issue of youth homelessness that they have spent the quarter learning about. It is being organized by Northwestern’s chapter of Alternative Student Breaks and co-sponsored by the Undergraduate Lecture Series on Race, Poverty, and Inequality as well as Dance Marathon.
(7) Candidate’s Forum on Homelessness co-sponsored with Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Evanston North Shore YMCA, Connections for the Homeless, Evanston Alliance to End Homelessness, Interfaith Action Evanston, and the Sheil Catholic Center at Northwestern University
ULRPI, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and other local advocacy groups assembled a forum in which candidates for Illinois’ 18th district were asked to speak on issues relating to homelessness, including employment, healthcare, housing, social services, and the budget. The forum featured Eamon Kelly, Patrick Keenan-Devlin, Edmund Moran, Jeff Smith, and current Democratic nominee Robyn Gabel. Experts and formerly homeless citizens presented one-minute summaries of each issue and asked a related question to the candidates. Each candidate then had one minute to give their response. Over 200 people were in attendance.
(8) Living Wage Campaign Rally co-sponsored by NCDC’s Education Committee, the Roosevelt Institute, For Members Only, and Alianza
ULRPI cosponsored the first campuswide rally of Northwestern’s Living Wage Campaign, which is advocating for living wages for all Northwestern employees. The rally occured February 24 on Northwestern’s campus, where supporters assembled outside the Board of Trustees’ first annual meeting at Rebecca Crown Center. With a turnout of over 400 students, faculty and staff, the campus successfully demonstrated to the trustees that living wages are a huge priority at Northwestern.