Number of homeless Chicagoans tripled over a yearlong period from early 2023 to 19,000

The latest “point-in-time” study finds that the number of homeless Chicagoans jumped by 200% over a yearlong period beginning in early 2023.

Published: June 23, 2024 9:22pm

(The Center Square) -

The latest “point-in-time” study finds that the number of homeless Chicagoans jumped by 200% over a yearlong period beginning in early 2023.

With the annual survey used by the federal government to track such trends, researchers also note that as more than 35,000 migrants poured into the city, the number of individuals living in city shelters or on city streets tripled and the number of longtime homeless residents spiked by 25%.

In all, nearly 19,000 people lacked a permanent place to sleep at the time of the survey after the number of unhoused individuals across the city had largely held steady over the prior decade.

With almost nine in 10 of all unhoused individuals being longtime residents, Illinois state Rep. LaShawn Ford is clear about how he wants to see the growing crisis handled, especially when it comes to a specific sector.

“I think that the response to the housing crisis for the migrants is obviously a model for American citizens to have the same treatment,” Ford told The Center Square. “We have a model of a safety net to make sure that we house migrants, where they're not required to worry about past convictions, past evictions. I think the current system leaves a lot of Americans out in the cold because they have to go through credit checks, criminal checks and all of these are barriers and the migrants don't have those barriers.”

Between the state of Illinois and city of Chicago, nearly $1 billion has been spent on caring for migrants arriving from the southern border over the past two years. That includes shelter, food, health care and other costs. Ford said longtime Chicago homeless who are American citizens deserve similar considerations, and taxpayers everywhere need to be concerned.

“The government is not making this a comprehensive approach so taxpayers should be mad,” he said. “Those that are homeless must fight and I think that we must not settle for this treatment. I think that when we start looking at the homeless condition as our problem then we join together in this fight to make it right.”

Since arriving in Springfield, Ford said he’s tried to pass laws that would make it easier for certain individuals to get housing, including sponsoring legislation that would open the door to someone having past evictions erased from their record.

“Here in Illinois, they may have an eviction from 10 years ago and it comes up and they can't get an apartment because of that,” he said. “They may have a foreclosure on their record and they can't get an apartment because of a foreclosure. That's something that I've tried to champion.”

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