January 11, 2011
2ExecutiveSummaryThis report contains preliminary information about services to homeless clients in Chicago. The information is part of a comprehensive attempt to evaluate Chicago's Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness, a plan endorsed by Chicago's Mayor in 2003 and first outlined in Getting Housed, Staying Housed: Chicago's Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness (Chicago Continuum of Care, 2000). In brief, the Plan calls for the implementation of a Housing First approach, under which clients are provided housing as soon as possible. Services are provided under the approach, but access to housing does not depend on the use of services.While the homeless service system is complex, offering services ranging from outreach and engagement to transportation to housing, this report focuses on and summarizes findings from the first of a three wave survey of clients residing in the three housing options that are provided under the Plan: emergency shelters, interim housing programs, and supportive permanent housing programs. Shelters generally house clients for a night at a time and are deemed to offer temporary placements. Interim housing programs offer accommodations to clients for a period that can last up to between 90 to 120 days. These programs generally are charged with providing linkage to services needed to address client problems, assessing clients for appropriate housing options and helping clients obtain the financial resources needed to afford housing. Supportive permanent housing programs allow people to stay as long as they wish and are charged with locating wraparound services for their clients. While they may not be unprecedented, the interim and permanent supportive housing programs are innovations suggested by the Plan.During 2009 and using a stratified, two-stage design, the first wave survey sampled a random sample of adult clients in the three types of programs. When surveying families, the head of the family was the respondent. The final sample includes 554 individuals and family heads. Of this total, 185 are from overnight shelter programs, 192 from interim housing programs and 177 from what for the purposes of this report are called permanent housing programs. The report summarizes basic findings about the surveyed clients. It analyzes the frequency with which clients evince certain traits or circumstances by the type of program. It also compares the frequencies across program types. In general, results of the analyses suggest that there has been considerable progress toward the goals of the Ten-Year Plan. The Plan's innovative programs, that is, interim and permanent housing programs, focus on clients who have long histories of homelessness. Those programs also reportedly engage in many required activities. Respondents also rate those programs higher than they rate shelters and report that agency and city workers tend to refer the clients to the new programs rather than to the old ones. On the other hand, service provision appears to be uneven in all types of programs. At the same time, largely due to policies and funding opportunities, the programs vary in the clients they serve.