On January 22, 2015, the City of Chicago conducted its eighth point-in-time (PIT) count of homeless individuals through the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS). One winter night each year, over 400 volunteers and staff canvass the city, tallying the number of Chicagoans living on the street or staying in homeless shelters.

In 2015, the number of homeless Chicagoans increased 8% from the previous year – to nearly 6,800 persons. While the number of sheltered individuals decreased, the number of unsheltered individuals more than doubled – from 965 in 2014 to 2,055 in 2015.

Consistent with previous PIT counts, minorities are disproportionally affected by homelessness. For example, African-Americans comprise about three quarters of Chicago’s homeless population, but only a third of the city’s population overall. Veterans represent roughly 15% of the homeless population, and only 4% of Chicago’s population. Similarly, children under the age of 18 account for one third of those living in shelters, but only 23% of the total population.

With the exception of formerly homeless individuals in Inspiration Corporation’s housing program, over 70% of participants are currently homeless. Substance use, mental illness, unemployment, and prior incarceration continue to be prevalent among Chicago’s homeless population, and are significant barriers to obtaining and maintaining stable housing.

The services Inspiration Corporation provides to help individuals exit poverty and achieve self-sufficiency – housing, meals, and job skills training – are more important than ever, yet funding for these essential services continues to be jeopardized year after year.

Illinois is about to enter its fourth month without a state budget and with no deal in sight. Social service agencies like Inspiration Corporation are being forced to continue providing services at the same level, despite a lack of financial support from the state. Please call Governor Rauner and your state legislators today and urge them to pass a fair budget that supports our most vulnerable citizens immediately. Click on this link to find your state legislators now!