By Kayla Daugherty
Video by Ryan Connelly Holmes
James Ivory describes himself as many things: a college student, a musician, an activist and a father. But because of the social services he received through a homeless shelter, he no longer needs to include “homeless” in that list.
Ivory is one of the thousands of Illinois youth who have found themselves on the street, without a place to eat, sleep or work. The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless reports that an estimated 20,205 Chicago Public Schools students were homeless during the 2014-2015 school year. They were among the 125,848 Chicagoans who were homeless during that period.
Though Ivory is no longer homeless, the 25-year-old came to a recent rally at the Thompson Center in support of social services funding for homeless youth. The rally, sponsored by the Coalition, drew more than 100 individuals hoping to prove to Gov. Bruce Rauner that homelessness is a huge issue in Chicago and that his proposed social service budget cuts will harm people in dire need of help.
Ivory, along with others who are still homeless, talked about their experiences on the streets.
“I think that the normal person doesn’t understand what it’s like to be really hungry,” Ivory said. “Hunger, loneliness—those things are very depressing.”
The young people who spoke showed that there is no one reason for homelessness. Some young men were kicked out of their homes after coming out as gay, bisexual or transgender. Some with criminal records said they had difficulty obtaining and keeping a steady job. Others just fell on hard times—losing a job or being in a serious accident—and were sent into a devastating downward spiral.
Upcoming vote to restore money
Illinois has gone four months without a state budget, and a vote is scheduled in the House on Senate Bill 2046, which would restore social service funding cut in Rauner’s budget.
(Ryan Connelly Holmes/Medill)