All posts by harryhuggins

Who helps homeless “L” passengers?

By Harry Huggins

Nicholas Saldana met Sarah Levine-Miles on the “L.” He might not have met her at all if it wasn’t so cold that morning last year. And without the chance meeting, Saldana might still be homeless.

Saldana survived the cold by sleeping on the CTA Blue Line, riding it all the way from Forest Park to O’Hare and trying to catch as much rest as he could before a conductor or station agent kicked him off.

Saldana had rotting teeth when he met Levine-Miles at the O’Hare station, but outreach workers avoid jumping right into difficult topics like healthcare. First, they talked about music. Building rapport is always the first step.

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Chicago’s Dress Shop Economy

By Harry Huggins

Hilda Sanchez sits at her desk with a street view of one of Chicago’s biggest retail corridors. Nearby are three rows of dresses in a rainbow of vibrant colors with skirts that billow out at least two feet from the mannequins that wear them.

Sanchez’s dress shop is one of many lining 26th Street. Their clientele, 15-year-old Hispanic girls, help make 26th Street in Little Village the city’s second Magnificent Mile.

The stores mainly sell dresses worn in coming-of-age celebrations called quinceañeras. In Latino culture, the parties are like bat mitzvahs or sweet sixteens, and the dresses reflect the event as a milestone in the lives of these young girls. The dress Sanchez’s daughter, Jailene, wore for her quinceañera is a perfect example: navy blue, with ornate, silver beading on the top and a royal blue skirt with wavy ruffles. These dresses can come as large as three times the size of the girls wearing them.

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Chicago architects design tiny solution to youth homelessness

By Harry Huggins

Three Chicago-based architects won a competition to design a minuscule solution to a large problem, youth homelessness. The Chicago chapter of the American Institute of Architects announced Thursday that Terry Howell, Marty Sandberg and Lon Stousland won the first ever Tiny Homes Competition. A prototype of their design will take center stage at the Tiny Homes Summit in April.

The competition solicited designs for small independent living communities that could be built at a low cost as a rapid response to rising rates of homelessness among Chicago’s youth. The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless estimates that more than 11,000 people aged 14 to 21 lived in the city without permanent homes in 2015.

Tiny homes communities would allow people with a wide range of needs to live in independent, freestanding homes connected to supportive services through a central community area.

The winning design, titled “A House for Living In,” includes 11 tiny homes and a community space arranged around a shared garden and courtyard, all on roughly four city lots. The architects estimate that each 336-square-foot home will cost less than $19,000 to build, compared to the average cost to build one unit of affordable housing: $350,000.

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Outside Trump rally, protesters shout down hate

By Harry Huggins
Video by Nikita Mandhani and Bian Elkhatib

Thousands of protesters gathered outside GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion Friday afternoon and evening. As fellow protesters inside disrupted the event and eventually contributed to its postponement, the outside protesters chanted insults about Trump and his supporters for hours.

Helicopters circled and police on horseback and bikes penned protesters in a corner outside the rally’s entrance as protesters shouted:

“No Trump! No KKK! No fascist U.S.A.!”

“Trump, Trump, you can’t hide! We can see your greedy side!”

“Stop Donald Trump!”

Miguel Del Toral, who helped organize the protest, said that organizers had little time to plan a response, so he called on a wide range of communities within UIC and Chicago to work together.

“We want to show Trump that hate speech, sexism, racism, is not tolerated on this campus,” Del Toral said.

(Click on image for larger view.)

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Chicago’s homeless discouraged from voting in primaries

By Harry Huggins

While Chicagoans line up next Tuesday to vote in the presidential primaries, those who suffer from policy and market failures will be on the streets and in shelters.

In 2013, former Governor Pat Quinn signed the Illinois Bill of Rights for the Homeless, which includes the right to vote, register to vote and, if necessary, receive identification necessary to vote. But few of the more than 125,000 people living without a permanent home in Chicago will exercise that right next week.

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Chicago legal center pilots job training, housing program

By Harry Huggins

Fredrick Dennis, Darrin Brown and Cecil Palmer are three young men renovating their own apartment on Chicago’s West Side.

They’re part of the MAC House, a new program from the Lawndale Christian Legal Center that combines transitional housing with job training. The guys in the program have one thing in common: they’ve been through Chicago’s criminal justice system at least once before.

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Volunteers Count Chicago’s Homeless

By Harry Huggins

Hundreds of volunteers canvased Chicago late Jan. 26 to count every person sleeping in the city’s parks and underpasses.

I drove around Chicago’s Near West Side with Dorothy Yancy, Phoebe DePree and Carolyn Hankins-Page for five hours that night as part of the annual point in time count. The survey takes place in ever major American city, and it helps the federal government decide how much money a city receives for homelessness prevention in the coming year.

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Little Village residents welcome diversity, fear rising rents

By Harry Huggins

Residents of Chicago’s largely Hispanic Little Village neighborhood are excited to greet their increasingly diverse neighbors, but the area’s popularity comes at the expense of long-time tenants who grew up in a community with more affordable housing.

Jesus Zamudio was born and raised in Little Village, which is just west of Pilsen on the city’s Southwest Side.

“I noticed that little by little, Asians, African-Americans and white people have been joining our community,” Zamudio said. “I like that, because I don’t want to be a part of only Mexicans, but I want to see other cultures around here.”
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