August 23, 2012; Source: Chicago Tribune

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced the launch of Plan 2.0, a new initiative addressing the city’s homelessness problem. According to the Chicago Alliance, which worked with the city on the project, Plan 2.0 was created “with participation from over 500 stakeholders, including 150 people who have experienced homelessness themselves. It is divided into seven strategic priorities that represent the most cutting-edge thinking on preventing and ending homelessness from around the country and will guide our community’s efforts for years to come.” According to the Plan 2.0 report, those seven strategic priorities are to:

  1. “create an effective crisis response system that prevents homelessness whenever possible and rapidly returns people who experience homelessness to stable housing;
  2. create and maintain stable and affordable housing for households who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness;
  3. create a comprehensive, developmentally appropriate menu of services for youth who experience homelessness in order to prevent homeless youth from becoming the next generation of homeless adults;
  4. increase meaningful and sustainable employment opportunities for people experiencing or most at risk of homelessness;
  5. engage all of Chicago in a robust plan that creates a path to securing a home for everyone in our community;
  6. work across public and private systems of care to ensure ending homelessness is a shared priority;
  7. ensure a strong homeless assistance system capable of implementing Plan 2.0 goals and HEARTH Act performance standards.”

As part of the plan, Emanuel also recently announced that the city will transfer the work of the agency offering homeless people rides to shelters to the local Catholic Charities, which Emanuel says will save the city $1.7 million annually. “For half the cost, we can provide the same services in terms of transportation, and then plow that money back into better servicing, more beds and more wrap-around services, both for the kids and adults,” Emanuel says. Catholic Charities will also undertake well-being checks and food delivery as part of the newly formed program and will commit 30 full-time employees as well as 12 part-time employees to the program’s execution. On the city side, 50 local government jobs will be nixed.

It will be worth keeping an eye on Chicago’s progress as the city moves into the implementation process with this plan. –Mike Keefe-Feldman