WBEZ | families http://www.wbez.org/tags/families Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Families make up a growing number of the homeless population http://www.wbez.org/news/families-make-growing-number-homeless-population-111225 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/homeless families.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-9324213e-3e84-1716-850d-2137f1c8207c">The people we see at an underpass might be the most visible among the homeless population in Chicago. But families make up a major part of the count, and they often go unnoticed.</p><p dir="ltr">If you saw Marilyn Escoe, you might just see a single mother to four. A few years ago, she was providing for her family on a tight budget, but things spiraled when her mom got sick. Her mother moved into her house and Escoe became her caretaker.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;My mom, she started getting sicker. That didn&rsquo;t leave me enough time to keep up with my job duties,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Escoe lost her job and fell behind on rent. She thought staying with a friend would be a burden and that moving into a homeless shelter would put the responsibility on her. So she made the tough decision to put her mother in the hospital and move the kids to a shelter.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I thought about the sense of privacy. I thought about how would my children react with other children,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Escoe and her kids slept on bunk beds in a dorm-style space with other families.</p><p dir="ltr">What was supposed to be a four-month stay, turned into two years.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The twins, they actually started their puberty at the shelter. I said, &ldquo;wow,&rdquo; if anything else can&rsquo;t happen, this had to happen,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Escoe&rsquo;s mother passed away during that time, and her oldest daughter had to step up when Escoe got a part-time job.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I couldn&rsquo;t be able to transport them to school. So at 12 years old, she was taking her three siblings back to the West Side to school. So it was like an hour and half away from the shelter,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Escoe&rsquo;s story isn&rsquo;t uncommon. The city&rsquo;s most recent count recorded a general homeless population of 6,294, relatively unchanged from the previous year. But there was a 7 percent increase in sheltered families with children.</p><p dir="ltr">Providers like the Primo Center for Women and Children felt that uptick firsthand.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There are so many families we turn away because we don&rsquo;t have the beds,&rdquo; said Christine Achre, CEO of the center.</p><p dir="ltr">This shelter has wraparound services, things like child care and counseling. Unlike many facilities in the city, families share apartment-style units. There are 111 beds here, and Achre says 30 families are using all of them.</p><p dir="ltr">Over the years, Achre has seen intact families and single fathers with their kids. The most typical configuration is a mother and at least one child. Achre says one of the greatest predictors of adult homelessness is if a mother&rsquo;s experienced residential instability in her youth.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s really important that if we&rsquo;re going to break the cycle of homelessness, that we need to nurture our families more and give more priority to family homelessness,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">The city&rsquo;s Department of Family and Support Services has a $43 million homelessness program. It&rsquo;s a mix of funding from the federal government, the state, the city and some private donors.</p><p dir="ltr">John Pfeiffer with DFSS says poverty is a complex problem that takes many agencies working together.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When there is a failure in one system or if someone&rsquo;s had a bad experience in one of those systems, or multiple systems it can result ultimately in homelessness. So we&rsquo;re always trying to look back up the chain and try to see what policy changes can be made to prevent further homelessness,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">Pfeiffer says beds were available for all families in need this year, whether that was at a shelter or an overflow site. He says the city&rsquo;s been maintaining its services for all subsets, and it&rsquo;s aligned itself with a federal initiative to end veteran homelessness in 2015.</p><p dir="ltr">Julie Dworkin with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless says while those efforts are good, it can turn attention away from other groups. For example, she says, a previous push to end chronic homelessness came with the idea that it would free up resources for others.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Where the resources are getting saved are emergency room visits, jails. Other systems are saving money because these folks aren&rsquo;t accessing them. But it doesn&rsquo;t create any more money in the homeless service system,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Dworkin says families make up more than half the city&rsquo;s homeless population. The coalition&rsquo;s annual count estimates 138,575 people were homeless between June 2013 and June 2014. That&rsquo;s 22 times the city&rsquo;s count. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The main difference is the city uses standards from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the coalition uses the definition from the Department of Education. Basically, the coalition counts people living temporarily with a friend or relative, and the city doesn&rsquo;t.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If you say these folks who are doubled up aren&rsquo;t homeless, they&rsquo;re eventually going to end up in the shelter system. That&rsquo;s the most common pattern, (is) when the families come in and you say &lsquo;why are you here?&rsquo; They say it was because of a dispute. Those situations break down,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Dworkin says there&rsquo;s been little change to the city&rsquo;s budget line item for the homeless over the years.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;So whether it&rsquo;s a good budget time or bad budget time, it sort of stays stagnant. So it&rsquo;s a matter of priorities,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">These days things are looking up for Marilyn Escoe. She and her children live in a subsidized apartment in Rogers Park. She just finished a culinary program and works part time at the homeless facility that once sheltered her.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I was once in those shoes and I had shelter. Some people don&rsquo;t even have shelter. It could&rsquo;ve still been me out there,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">The city says it&rsquo;s adding new beds in 2015. It hopes with an increase in the minimum wage and more available affordable housing, those extra beds will be just that, extra.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Susie An covers business for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/soosieon">@soosieon</a></em></p></p> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 06:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/families-make-growing-number-homeless-population-111225 Inside and Out: Stress and fatigue can defeat families http://www.wbez.org/story/attorney/inside-and-out-stress-and-fatigue-can-defeat-families <p><p>Nearly half the kids leaving Illinois youth prisons end up back inside. They just can't make it outside. The pull of the old life is strong, and a lot of times,&nbsp; the families of young offenders just can't get them back into school, or a job, or away from the street.&nbsp; It's a wasteful cycle…for the state and especially for the lives of kids themselves.&nbsp; WBEZ's<a href="http://insideandout.chicagopublicradio.org/"> Inside and Out</a> team met a lot of these young people last year as we reported on the state's youth prisons. We're revisiting some of them this week, as we begin a look at what it would take to keep more kids out of prison for good.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>When Meechie was in the Chicago prison for kids his mother and grandmother visited him without fail.<br> <br> SHAPREE: She wants to go every weekend.<br> <br> JOSIE: That's my oldest grandbaby and he's locked up, he can't get out and I know I would want to see somebody, at least on the weekend.&nbsp; I love my baby I'm sorry.&nbsp; I just love my grandson.<br> <br> SHAPREE: That's not teaching him a lesson of him missing us and him doing what he needs to do.<br> <br> JOSIE: That's teaching him a lesson.&nbsp; I think he have learned his lesson.&nbsp; I don't want him to think that I gave up on him.&nbsp; I haven't gave up on him during the times that he was doing the stuff he wasn't supposed to be doing so I'm not giving up on him now.<br> <br> They drive a couple miles through a heavy rain on a Saturday morning from the house on Chicago's West Side to the youth prison on Western Avenue, a few lights north of the Eisenhower.<br> <br> I should say here that we're not using Meechie's last name to protect his identity because of his status as a juvenile offender.<br> <br> On the way to the prison on this morning, his mom and grandmother stop to pick up Meechie's son.<br> <br> JOSIE: Hello Foo-foo.&nbsp; Say 'hi.'<br> <br> The three of them head into the prison and spend a couple hours with Meechie in the visting room but it doesn't go well.<br> <br> Meechie is down because he recently got a ticket for a disciplinary infraction of some sort, nothing major but it's got him worried.<br> <br> The judge in his case said she'd keep him in prison if he didn't stay out of trouble.<br> <br> But in the hearing a week later, a guard from the prison calls Meechie a quote, "model youth."<br> <br> That, along with his good grades impressed the judge and she let him out.<br> <br> MEECHIE: Yeah, I was praying all night so I could come home!&nbsp; Fixin' to go to the house, get in the shower, and change my clothes and stuff.<br> <br> Back at home, on his front porch, Meechie says all the right things, the things he heard over and over from staff in prison.<br> <br> MEECHIE: Yeah I'm fenna get my GED.&nbsp; I'm probably fenna go to Malcolm X, get my GED.<br> <br> But actually going to Malcolm X city college and signing up, that doesn't happen before he's arrested on a drug charge just a couple weeks after being released.<br> <br> For whatever reason Meechie didn't go sign up on his own.<br> <br> He isn't mature enough, or determined enough, or something.<br> <br> And his family didn't help and no one else was on him to make sure he got enrolled.<br> <br> And his new case is an adult case because he's 18 now.<br> <br> On the plus side, he's not being held at the Cook County jail though he does have to spend his days there as part of a day reporting program, a way for the jail to keep an eye on him without having to actually keep him 24/7.<br> <br> But the hearings in adult court are confusing, and frustrating and often times degrading.<br> <br> At his first hearing he didn't have an attorney lined up and the judge, Gloria Chevere, berated him.<br> <br> She scheduled a hearing for a week later and said if he doesn't have a private attorney by then, she's going to take the thousand dollars he posted for bond, and she's going to give it to the first lawyer who happens to be in court that day and that will be his attorney.<br> <br> Meechie and his mom leave angry and silent, walking 20 feet apart.<br> <br> MEECHIE: I don't even want to talk about it.<br> <br> With the hearing done, Meechie is supposed to go back to the jail for the day reporting program, but his mom has had it.…she just drives him back home along with his co-defendant who also had to be in court that day.<br> <br> She drops them both off at a corner in the neighborhood, the same streets where they were arrested.<br> <br> Later at home, tired and seeming depressed, she eats a small pizza off of a paper plate and won't talk about the case.<br> <br> SHAPREE: I ain't fenna answer no questions because I don't feel like it.<br> <br> She says there's no more she can do for her son.<br> <br> Meechie's grandmother Josie is willing to talk but it seems like she too has given up.<br> <br> She's laying on the coach watching One Oh Six and park on B-E-T with two of Meechie's younger siblings.<br> <br> SOT<br> <br> She's able to provide housing for a couple of her adult children and their children.<br> <br> But her job working on case files for cancer patients who have died is depressing and the ride to work is an hour and a half on the bus each way.<br> <br> JOSIE: I'm tired.&nbsp; Disgusted.&nbsp; This is my building, I wanted to move from around here so maybe he would have a better chance in life but I can't afford to move.<br> <br> Josie says she's told the family they shouldn't call her at work anymore when Meechie is in trouble.<br> <br> JOSIE: Long as I don't know what he doing now, it don't bother me too much because I just can't take it no more.&nbsp; I don't want to see him in jail cause he's not in juvie no more, this will be the county.<br> <br> The thing about Meechie's story and his family's inability to help him, it's a very common.<br> <br> In reporting on juvenile justice I've met a number of moms who gave up on their kids, and it's usually for good reason.<br> <br> With limited time and energy, some choose to focus on the younger kids because maybe they can still be saved.<br> <br> Others have no choice because of health problems.<br> <br> I've talked to moms who are under doctor's orders to avoid stress which means avoiding their kids and their kid's problems.<br> <br> But even moms who haven't given up, they still have a hard time getting help for their kids.<br> <br> Tune in tomorrow as we hear about one mother's often frustrated efforts to get her son more support than the monthly five minute visit from a parole officer that he's getting now.<br> <br> Robert Wildeboer, WBEZ.</p></p> Wed, 02 Feb 2011 20:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/attorney/inside-and-out-stress-and-fatigue-can-defeat-families Dear Chicago: We need a place to live http://www.wbez.org/story/dear-chicago-we-need-place-live <p> <br/> <div id="PictoBrowser120123141222"></div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "500", "519", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Dear Chicago: We need a place to live"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157628999223459"); so.addVariable("titles", "off"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "always"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "top"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "47"); so.write("PictoBrowser120123141222"); </script> <p>It’s estimated that over forty-thousand households in Chicago are headed by grandparents who have taken responsibility for raising their grandchildren. 61-year-old Joyce Jackson is part of that legion. The mother of four has twelve grandchildren, four of whom she’s raised herself: 21-year-old Jamie, 19-year-old Jamal, 18-year-old Mario and 16-year-old Keosha.</p><div>Securing affordable housing is difficult for many Chicago residents but it is often more so for families headed by grandparents. Many of them are retired or are on a fixed income. Senior housing designed for low-income adults is rarely suitable for families with children.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In 2009 Jackson found an apartment in Coppin House, a 54-unit building just west of Washington Park, developed jointly between a variety of non-profit and government entities, including the City of Chicago. Gladys Jordan, Director of Interfaith Housing Development Corporation, says the city’s contribution to the project included selling the land on which Coppin House sits to the developer for a single dollar. It also issued $8.3 million in tax-exempt bonds and $679,000 in 4% low-income housing tax credits.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The building was designed specifically for families headed by grandparents or other adult relatives, and for young adults phasing out of the foster care system. Coppin House is one of only a few buildings in the city designed with this purpose in mind, so demand for units far outstrips supply. According to Gladys Jordan, every time they open the waiting list for spots at Coppin House, “Literally, thousands of families apply.”</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Dear Chicago, </em></div><div><em>I’ve had my granddaughter Jamie since she was born. I was 40 when she was born, and it changed my life drastically. Her mother was my youngest child and she had went away to school and I had just become an empty nester, so I was thinking this was the time I was getting ready to live, you know, do some things for myself and live life for me. But I loved Jamie, so I adjusted to that. But then it went from one grandchild to three and then to four. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>Jamie’s mother, my daughter Daphne, suffered with depression. She moved out and then she had the two boys, Mario and Jamal, and the next girl, Keosha. And she didn’t tell me she couldn’t take care of her children; she just showed me. It had gotten to the point where the children were being left home alone. I knew they were being neglected. The two boys started calling me, saying, “Grandma, we don’t have anything to eat.” I said, well, I may as well have the children if I’m going to be running back and forth trying to make sure they have what they need to wear, trying to make sure everything’s going right in school for them. And down through the years Daphne never one time asked me if she could have her children, you know, “Mama, I’m ready to take care of my children.” </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>I didn’t think it would be permanent. I thought she would get better, but she didn’t. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>It was very hard. People told me I should just let them go into the [foster care] system and then they’ll give them back to you, but I loved my grandchildren and I didn’t want to see them out of my home for even one day.</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>We had a real nice house in the suburb of South Holland, Illinois--a three-bedroom house with three bathrooms and a full, finished basement. There was plenty of room for us. But they were out there in the suburbs and I was working in the city, and I was just so upset with them coming home in the house alone. So, I decided to resign from my job and do home daycare professionally so I could be home with them.</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>At first it went really well. We were paying the bills and, as a matter of fac,t I was making more money doing day care than I was working at my old job. But it got to the point where a lot of people started getting laid off from their jobs and people didn’t have the money for childcare. I couldn’t continue to pay the house note and the utilities, so I lost the house to foreclosure. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>We moved into the city with my sister. But it was really tight. She was already living in a five-bedroom apartment with her friend and my granddaughter, Keosha. It was just too many people in one house. We weren’t getting along, and the boys wound up having to sleep on an enclosed back porch that wasn’t heated. We were really trying to find someplace else to go but I still didn’t have the income to find a place. We got to the point where we really felt like we were going to end up homeless. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>Then my daughter-in-law brought me a form from the Chicago Department of Aging. They asked me what I needed, and I checked housing. So eventually about six months later they did call me and told me about Coppin House. My heart was glad and I was like, oh God, I want one of those apartments! But you still needed money to move in. It wasn’t free: I also needed $980 for the security deposit. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>Then the Lord sent Grand Families [Program of Chicago] in our life! The Department of Aging hooked me up with Grand Families. I was over to the office one day and the director asked me to come in her office and so I came in and she said, “We’re going to give you the money to get the apartment.”</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>I started crying and praising God. We had already gone and looked at the apartments and they were just heaven for us. It was just like a weight lifted off of my heart. And I said God this is it, you have done it, now we have a place of our own again. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>Now we have been here almost two years and I love being here and it’s working out for me well. The only problem I have with it--and I still thank God because he has provided for me for these two years--but it is hard for me to pay the rent. Usually every month I’m relying on my other three grown children to help me pay the rent, but it’s getting hard for them, too, because they each have families. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>My appeal would be to build more of this kind of housing that is affordable for grandparents. There are so many grandparents that are going through the struggle and need decent housing. And I’m not the only grandparent in here that’s really struggling to pay the rent. I just met a grandmother that just got seven grandchildren. Seven! And last time I talked to her she was trying to find housing because she was getting ready to be evicted.</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>I’m grateful for what the city did. Mayor Daley came to the grand opening of Coppin House. He came in and cut the ribbon and said he was glad we were so happy for this housing and he was going to put it on the agenda for more. And I’m kind of sad he’s leaving. Really, I am, because I’m hoping the next person coming in has that same mind. </em></div><div><p class="MsoNormal"><em>Dear Chicago</em> is a project of WBEZ’s Partnership Program. Joyce Jackson was nominated for the series by <a href="http://communitymediaworkshop.org/training/">Community Media Workshop</a>.</p></div></p> Mon, 17 Jan 2011 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/dear-chicago-we-need-place-live