Homeless Over 50: The Graying of Chicago's Homeless Population
(Winter 2006 - Spring 2008)
The homeless population in Chicago is quickly getting older. CURL, in collaboration with the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness and the financial support of the Retirement Research Foundation, embarked on a project to better understand the stories and the needs of this aging population. During the Fall and Winter of 2006, a research team collected data through a combination of focus groups and intensive life interviews with homeless individuals, as well as surveys conducted with local service providers. Quantitative data from service providers and from prior research with this population has also been utilized in the final analysis.
The final report: “Homeless Over 50: The Graying of Chicago's Homeless Population”, was presented on June 26th, 2008 at a conference in downtown Chicago concerning the Homelessness in the city. The report’s findings include: employable older individuals find challenges to work; veterans are unable to access benefits; and the safety net of social welfare programs fail this population. Recommendations from this report are as follows: a stronger partnership between public and private agencies that serve people who are homeless and the aging; the enactment of state universal paid sick time, so ailments and temporary disabilities don’t completely cut someone out of their job; expanding job training programs for individuals over 48; improving access to SSI benefits. The project itself aimed to increase public awareness and influence public policy on homelessness in Chicago.
The Chicago Alliance to End Hopelessness plans to use the findings to help shape the implementations of the Chicago Plan to End Homelessness. Currently, a group of 10 providers are meeting every other month and planning how to implement the recommendations of the report.
C. George, CURL
M. Krogh, Sociology
D. Watson, Graduate Fellow
J. Wittner, Sociology
K. Patel, Undergraduate Fellow
C. Wiens, Undergraduate Fellow