To assess the size of Chicago’s homeless population, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless developed a new methodology using U. S. Census data. This method also provides a more precise understanding of how many families are doubled-up.
The report shows that 82,212 people were homeless in Chicago in 2015, an unduplicated count. Eighty-seven percent of homeless families (8,634 families) with children were doubled-up.
CCH also found that 44% of homeless families served by the emergency shelter system had lived doubled-up with friends or family, either prior to or after entering the shelter system within that year. This shows that many families experience both types of homelessness, cycling in and out of shelters and the homes of others.
Chrishauna Thompson’s family became homeless after her mother suffered a back injury, making her unable to work her two caregiver jobs. Over the next four years, Chrishauna, 17, changed schools nine times as her family doubled-up with different relatives.
“Doubled-up is homeless,” said the teen. “I never had a key. I didn’t have privacy. A lot of times I was late for school waiting for a shower. I was worried that we could be put out at any time.”