Thursday, June 4, 2009

WTTW: The Life Of A Homeless CPS Student


  1. Looks like the "liberal" Obama administration that gives all the wealth to corporations and the military will have no problem helping people like this....

  2. Countless amounts of money and other aid is given daily to places overseas we have never even heard of yet our people are ignored. With all the money Obama has spent in the few months in office, too bad not just a little is directed toward children like this. If she was a illegal alien she would be getting plenty of help.

  3. I'd like to wish this girl and her mother the best of luck. Don't be ashamed, we all have our problems. Whatever struggles her mother has faced, she's keeping her daughter in school. Beat the struggles, and the girl shouldn't be behind her classmates. You could actually argue that she'll be ahead of others because she's perservered through this and come out on the other end a stronger girl. Keep your head up, kid.

  4. What a dear little girl. She is trying so hard to be brave. JPUSA people who read this blog: how many homeless children would you say are in your shelters? How long do they typically stay? Any thoughts or suggestions for things the community could donate or provide for these kids?

  5. Hi Sassy, thanks for your encouraging post.

    I work for Cornerstone Community Outreach (CCO), and here are some answers, but not really the whole picture...

    -"how many homeless children would you say are in your shelters?"
    Stats show that more than 50% of homeless are children, and that is mostly consistent at CCO. Throughout the year, the average is around 160 or so.

    -"How long do they typically stay? "
    Most families stay at CCO for an average of 3-4 months. Some shorter, and some longer, it depends on each individuals needs and goals.

    -"Any thoughts or suggestions for things the community could donate or provide for these kids?"

    Some of the families really have lost everything along the way to being homeless. It is hard for the children, and I feel that consistency is what everyone desires, including children. At CCO, we really want to meet each individuals needs, and help them get back on there own. One of the most lasting ways to provide for the kids, is to provide for the parents, and get them housed.
    For example, donating things that the parents would have to pay for, like school supplies, money to help them get ID's and birth certificates, transit cards to get to appointments or jobs, kitchen wares for when they are housed, and even rent or security deposit money, are huge for a family just starting out.

    I know this is a lot of info. How can you help?
    Come by, volunteer, and even make a donation to CCO. CCO relies on private funding for a lot of its work, and would appreciate any donation, to continue doing the work.

    You can contact me at awinter [at], to continue this discussion, and check out CCO's blog at

  6. Bozena and Barry, your comments are disgusting, especially BF. It is pathetic to frame a child's circumstance in your twisted political perspective. Why is 'liberal' such a dirty word in America? Why or how is immigration status even an issue in this story?

    Both of you clowns might want think about what you can do to help out the less fortunate in your community who are unable to help out themselves.

    Follow Sassy and show some empathy and class.

  7. This child said she didn't feel prepared to tell her friends that she's homeless. I wonder if it was good judgment to have her go on TV to talk about it?

    I'm disappointed with WTTW more than anything else. There's a way to tell the story without placing this child in this very difficult situation on camera.

  8. Kudos to WTTW. First they present a staggering statistic, we have nearly 12,000 homeless students in our home town's public school system, then they got intensely personal with the story. This is exactly what you would hope television reporting would do on a good day.

  9. Our mayor is planning to invite the world to our home town for a party while 12,000 of our school children have no homes.

  10. Looks like the "liberal" Obama administration that gives all the wealth to corporations and the military will have no problem helping people like this....

    Yeah, why hasn't he solved all of the problems of the country/world yet. I mean, geez, it's been more than 100 days, right. Quit dragging your feet, Obama.

    Good thing there weren't any homeless students when Bush was around.

  11. Thanks, Uptown15. I didn't know that your shelter had so many children. I think I thought that it was mostly single male and female adults and that children were going elsewhere. As for your suggestions, I will offer one back and I hope you don't see my comments as trying to stir up trouble. (I'm just trying to be honest.)

    For whatever reason(s), I think the relationship between parts of the community and the various social service agencies in Uptown is very poor. This may cause some people to not want to donate directly to these organizations because they a) do not want to "reward" them when they feel there have been unaddressed problems and b) because there is a sense that these organizations have been effective in mobilizing against many things that these same residents want.

    ON THE OTHER HAND, I believe that these same residents do want to help and don't want to turn a blind eye to the reality that surrounds all of us. So what to do? If fundamental change is not possible in Uptown's civic life I would suggest some shortcuts.

    Why not make a website or something for all of the SS agencies in Uptown with very specific needs (i.e., school supplies, CTA passes, opportunities to donate used items, short term volunteering like repainting a bathroom) so that people can do a little bit here and there without a lot of commitment. Also, the recipients of these donations should know that while the organizations are facilitating the giving, it is individual members of the community (or small groups like block clubs) who are doing this. Whether completely true or not, there is a sense that the SS agencies can mobilize voters and protesters (ie., Miriam Apartments going to Alderman Smith's house) because they are the source of the material needs of the people they serve.

    The bottom line is that we can (and must) do better than we are doing a neighborhood. We've got a lot of people standing on the sidelines (on both sides) pointing fingers. I wonder if inserting some shortcuts will ignite more positive action in this community?

  12. When SS contribute to the concentrated poverty (which Helen allows them to do), it's no wonder they get in over their heads and can't reign in their clients to behave better. No other alderman would tolerate it. People outside the ward and the press still on the most part don't get our frustration. But they don't vote. We do and we will.

    I'm not frustrated with the mentally ill and drug addicts. I'm frustrated with the huge numbers of SS that draw them into one small neighborhood. The unusually high concentration is a sure recipe for disaster. Cornerstone with its 3 shelters on one small block isn't working well.

    When we express frustration, we get shrugged shoulders or accusations that we only care about the value of our property. So when the next alderman starts demanding better management, I won't be shedding any tears. For the record, when I moved here I was a Birkenstock wearing, granola crunching, love-one-another liberal.

  13. For the record, when I moved here I was a Birkenstock wearing, granola crunching, love-one-another liberal.

    Right back at ya, Holy Moley!! (I laughed so hard at that line!) Because of that I do hope that we could find a way to create balance and accountability here but also greater giving for the true needs that exist here and throughout Chicago.

    Whether religious or not, I think people at heart are good and do want to live their lives in a just way. Its really a matter of how to make it happen. Seeing the video made me wonder how much the BS here is decreasing the flow of goodwill and giving. That young lady could use more help and it pains me to think how the adults can't get it together to make things better, even in small ways. I know its not just Uptown but... what would have attending all of her field trips meant to this young girl? How would her sense of the goodness of the world or this community been changed if she knew that nameless "neighbors" gave her something with no expectation of anything in return?

    BTW, I know there are many people who volunteer and donate regularly to various organizations. Despite that, I do think more can be done---especially in incremental ways like I suggested.