White House selects Chicago as partner city for initiative to combat homelessness
CHICAGO - Launched Thursday, the White House has selected Chicago as a partner city for its ‘ALL INside’ initiative to end homelessness.
For up to two years, the White House will work directly with six communities, including Chicago, to help unsheltered individuals into safe and affordable housing.
Through the initiative, the White House aims to establish a national model for tackling this epidemic.
"The ALL INside initiative treats homelessness as the urgent public health crisis that it is," said Jeff Olivet, executive director, U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. "To end homelessness, we must fix our systems, not blame people being failed by them."
Along with Chicago, the White House has selected to work with Los Angeles, Dallas, Phoenix, Seattle, and the State of California.
"Through this initiative, we will be embedding a federal official in each community to accelerate locally-driven strategies and enact system-level changes to reduce unsheltered homelessness," said U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dennis McDonough.
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As the program was launched, Mayor Brandon Johnson's deputy mayor of education, youth and human services, Jennifer Johnson, joined a national call where she explained some of the city’s local obstacles.
"Many unhoused individuals sleep or shelter on trains as a means of survival in the colder months here in Chicago," said Jennifer Johnson.
Like other cities selected for the initiative, in Chicago, many unsheltered individuals seek shelter on public transportation.
"Based on our outreach data, the most common unhoused passengers are unsheltered, Black men, ages 30 to 51. Homelessness, especially unsheltered homelessness, disproportionately affects Black residents in Chicago, so this is a racial justice issue," said Jennifer Johnson. "Many of those residents on the trains have complex needs based on ongoing struggles with chronic homelessness, mental health or substance abuse."
The initiative builds on the White House's goal to achieve a 25 percent reduction in homelessness by 2025.
"We must work with our federal and community partners to assist people experiencing homelessness and build pathways that ensure every Chicagoan has a roof over their head, as well as support services to help them thrive," said Mayor Brandon Johnson.
White House officials say they will also work to convene philanthropic organizations and the private sector to identify opportunities for follow-on support and collaboration.
"It speaks to the fact that we have a really significant problem with homelessness in Chicago. We have over 65,000 people that experience homelessness over the course of a year," said Julie Dworkin, policy director, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
Through the initiative, the government will help selected cities navigate what they call a ‘maze’ of federal funding streams, but it's unclear if any additional dollars will be provided.
"Right now, I’m not aware of any federal commitment of increased funding, and so the plans are great, they’re important, having goals is important, but without actual dollars behind them, we’re not going to achieve those goals," said Dworkin.
Learn more about the White House’s ALL INside initiative by clicking HERE.