Homeless Still Here

City plan goes awry

Seven years ago, Mayor Daley announced with a straight face a 10-year plan to end homelessness.

Unsurprisingly, it's not working.

"Chicago’s 10-year Plan to End Homelessness meant moving people from the street to permanent housing within 120 days," the Chicago Reporter reports. "Seven years later, advocates now struggle to fulfill a plan critics say is unrealistic, underfunded and lacks sufficient housing."

Homeless advocates were actually hopeful early on, though, that significant progress could be made. It was audacious enough, after all, for Daley to even talk about solving the problem of homelessness in Chicago.

But the talk wasn't backed by sufficient action.

"The goal was to end homelessness by converting overnight shelter beds - which are predominantly operated by the city - into interim housing beds, where the homeless could temporarily stay," the Reporter notes. "They would then be transitioned into permanent housing units built by nonprofit developers or existing market-rate units, where their rent could be subsidized. Mayor Richard M. Daley endorsed the plan in 2003."

But there was a catch: "It had few numbers and no stated funding goals or estimates of how much housing was needed."

It was a plan without much of a plan.

"An analysis of spending to end homelessness shows that New York spent nearly 15 times as much per capita as Chicago; Los Angeles invested nearly four times as much," the Reporter reports. "On a more pragmatic level, the plan lacked sufficient housing."

And homelessness is about housing. And housing takes money.

That's not to say progress hasn't been made, but it's difficult to assess just how much - and certainly it's not as much as Daley claims.

"Some city officials and people close to the plan say they don’t expect to end homelessness, but said that at least they’ll improve the system," the Reporter says. "However, the mayor at news conferences over the past two years has insisted the plan is working."

That's no way to fix it.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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