Lived Experience Groups

Individuals with lived experience actively guide and influence the initiatives of the CoC Implementation Structure (CoC IS). This involvement is facilitated through structured meetings organized by the Lived Experience Commission (LEC) and Youth Action Board (YAB), where participants assume crucial roles across the Chicago CoC. Both the LEC and YAB feature well-defined decision-making structures and membership responsibilities, including representatives who serve on the CoC Board. Support for their endeavors is provided by All Chicago Staff.

Lived Experience Commission (LEC)

The Lived Experience Commission (LEC) is a collaborative and transparent community of individuals and families who have experienced homelessness, are currently homeless, or are at risk of becoming homeless. Members of the LEC, as noted in the Chicago Continuum of Care (CoC) Charter, are also individuals who are receiving or have received services from Chicago’s homeless system. The LEC’s mission is to advise on funding processes and other CoC decisions that impact homeless prevention, services, and systems.

The purpose of the LEC is to empower all homeless individuals, families, and those at risk of homelessness living in the City of Chicago to use their voices to intentionally improve and challenge those systems that directly impact the housing and services they receive.


The LEC seeks to create a collegial space for all individuals who are self-identified as formerly, currently, or at risk of being homeless. The LEC’s meetings are open to anyone who identifies as being a person of lived experience. To learn more about the LEC or to join, please reach out to the CoC Programs Team at

Benefits of Becoming a Member:
  • Building connections through networking
  • A stipend for your participation
  • Exclusive invitations to community events
  • Opportunities to join various committees and workgroups
How to Become a Member:

Step 1: Contact the CoC Programs Team at or call 312-379-0301 to state your interest in joining the LEC
Step 2: Attend three LEC monthly meetings within 120 days from your first meeting
Step 3: Attend an onboarding meeting with two CoC Executive Committee member
Step 4: Current LEC members vote to appoint you as a member

Youth Action Board (YAB)

The Youth Action Board (YAB) is a dedicated group of young individuals with a shared commitment to enhancing Chicago’s response to the needs of youth facing homelessness. Comprising individuals who have encountered various forms of unstable housing, including street living shelter stays, couch surfing, and frequent transitions within foster homes, this group is uniquely positioned as “subject matter experts” on youth experiencing homelessness and unstable housing. Their firsthand experiences contribute valuable insights, driving efforts to refine and optimize support systems for this vulnerable demographic.


A member of the YAB plays a crucial role within a 10-12 member board, leveraging their life experience to formulate strategic solutions aimed at preventing and ending youth homelessness in Chicago. This board actively engages with agencies, policymakers, and legislators, offering informed insights on effective approaches to support and collaborate with youth experiencing homelessness. Additionally, members convene with adult individuals who have encountered homelessness, fostering collaborative idea-sharing sessions to enhance the collective understanding and address this critical issue more effectively.

  • Be between the ages of 16 and 24
  • Have current or former experience of homelessness or being unstably housed
  • Receive a recommendation from a qualified youth-serving organization
Compensation & Support
  • $25 for each board meeting or other meetings attended on behalf of the Youth Action Board
  • Transportation support
  • Food will be provided at each Board meeting
  • Childcare support will be provided for youth with children
  • An adult ally support person will be available during all Board Meetings
Additional Benefits
  • Network with young people from all over the city – ranging in a variety of experiences
  • Receive training on resume-building skills
  • Develops skills as a leader
  • Contribute to a collective mission to prevent and end youth homelessness