Poverty Lab Family Homelessness in Chicago

Thousands of families in Chicago experience homelessness each year. However, only a small percentage of families actually access shelters or other homeless services. Many more families are forced to live doubled up with friends or family for economic reasons or on the street without seeking shelter. These families may interact with several different city agencies, and in most cases have children enrolled in Chicago Public Schools. However, legal restrictions on data sharing across non-profits and city agencies has presented challenges to learning about who these families are and what services might help them.

In partnership with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), All Chicago, and the Corporation for Supportive Housing, the Poverty and Health Labs received permission to link data from the homeless service sector and Chicago Public Schools, which tracks students that are in temporary living situations, to estimate the total number of families experiencing homelessness in Chicago, follow families’ pathways to experiencing homelessness over time, and project the number of families that will experience homelessness in the next year and their housing needs. These analyses will provide public officials with a more accurate and comprehensive view of the total number of families experiencing homelessness and their unique service needs, which is a necessary first step to ending family homelessness in Chicago.

The Poverty Lab is grateful to the Polk Bros. Foundation, the Chicago Community Trust, and the Pierce Family Foundation for their generous support of this report.

Ending Family Homelessness Report