FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CHICAGO – The Chicago Continuum of Care announced today that the Expedited Housing Initiative, a program begun in 2020 to rehouse individuals and families at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic, has now served more than 1800 households.
The Expedited Housing Initiative (EHI) is a collaborative effort involving the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services (DFSS), Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), All Chicago Making Homelessness History, and the Chicago Continuum of Care and its partner organizations.
The EHI was initiated in response to the pandemic, which made housing-insecure populations more vulnerable than ever. Many people experiencing homelessness are considered high risk for COVID-19 exposure and need access to immediate housing.
“This milestone emphasizes the power of collaboration and a holistic approach. The EHI has brought together partners from both the public sectors and nonprofit sectors, as well as landlords and individuals with lived experience to examine all aspects of our systems,” said Brandie Knazze, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services and co-chair of the Continuum of Care. “But it all leads to the same goal: solving homelessness through housing.”
The program uses federal funding to assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness to quickly obtain housing. This funding provides financial and support services to ensure success. The initiative focuses on community engagement, collaboration, and accountability to streamline the housing process and enact lasting change.
By leveraging an unprecedented reduction of barriers and a $35 million in federal CARES Act funding, the EHI has improved system wide efforts and housed more people faster than ever before. It takes 66 days for an EHI client to move into their rental unit.
“This began as a response to a crisis, when we asked what we could do to streamline processes to keep people at risk of or facing homelessness safe from Covid-19. It has evolved into a staging ground for innovation. The 1800 households we have been able to serve demonstrate what is possible when we foster bold new approaches,” said Ken Burnett, co-chair of the Continuum of Care Board of Directors.
The initiative has developed new approaches, including Accelerated Moving Events (AMEs), one-day events allow groups to complete several steps of the housing process at once. At AMEs, participants can view photos of available units, complete applications with onsite assistance, and select furniture.
By connecting people experiencing homelessness to housing and services, they have a platform from which they can address other areas that may have contributed to their homelessness — such as employment, health, and substance abuse.
“I knew I needed a big change in my life, and so I’ve been working hard to get clean and make a living. Thanks to my new place, all of that is so much easier,” said Eric Freeman, recently housed through the EHI. “This is maybe the most gratifying experience of my life right now.”
The EHI brings together an array of service providers. Participating organizations include: A Safe Haven Foundation, Apna Ghar, Catholic Charities, Center for Housing and Health, Deborah’s Place, Facing Forward, Featherfist, Housing Opportunities for Women, Inner Voice, Kan Win, La Casa Norte, Metropolitan Family Services, Puerto Rican Cultural Center, Renaissance Social Services, Sarah’s Circle, TASC, The Boulevard, The Night Ministry, Unity Parenting, Volunteers of America, and WINGS.
Media requests should be directed to Hank Sartin, Director of Communications at All Chicago, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 872-291-1278.