A report published on Tuesday by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, revealed that 13,400 of the city’s homeless population had jobs in 2017 while another 18,000 had a college education.
The report challenges long held stereotypes concerning the homeless that include the false idea that anyone with a steady job or college education is immune from one of life’s most difficult experiences.
After examining 2017 census data, the Chicago Coalition of the Homeless (CCH) found that about 86,000 people experienced homelessness in the city at some point during the year.
The coalition’s policy director, Julie Dworkin, said:
“Now we have a way to talk about the full scope of homelessness in Chicago. The point-in-time count doesn’t capture the way most people experience homelessness. Being able to quantify that has really pushed the envelope in Chicago in terms of the city thinking about what resources are necessary to address it.”
The CCH report is important in more ways than one. The city of Chicago conducts what is called a point-in-time tally to gauge the number of homeless people living in the city. These tallies produce notoriously inaccurate results as they do not include the population currently “doubled up”—those temporarily residing in the homes of others.
For example, the latest tally—from January 2018—showed that more than 5,000 people were living either in shelters or in a location not suitable for human habitation. But according to the Chicago Coalition of the Homeless, four out of five homeless people in the city are “doubled up”—meaning they aren’t counted in the point-in-time tally.
The report notes that Chicago’s increasing housing costs is a contributing factor in the city’s homeless population. According tot he National Low Income Housing Coalition, the “house wage” required to afford a two=bedroom apartment is more than $23 per hour.
“This data shows that anyone can experience homelessness, particularly in a city where rapidly escalating rents in gentrifying neighborhoods have fueled the loss of housing options for lower-income families. It also should debunk common myths that homelessness is a risk only to those who don’t have job, aren’t trying to get an education, or otherwise brought their circumstances on themselves. That’s never been true, and this data proves it again.”