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Our Mission

The Chicago Alliance leads Chicago's collaborative effort to ensure that everyone has a place to call home.

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The Chicago Alliance helped Starnica become an advocate for homeless youth.

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The Chicago Alliance

Our History 

The Chicago Alliance was created in December 2006 through the consolidation of the Partnership to End Homelessness and the Chicago Continuum of Care Board. Both organizations were integrally involved with the implementation of Chicago’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness

The Alliance’s predecessor organizations had each established successful track records in slightly different areas. The Partnership, founded in 1999, was a collaboration of 86 homeless service providers in metropolitan Chicago that worked as a leader in the movement to end homelessness. Its priorities were helping agencies transition according to the Plan, securing new funding, and maintaining strong public/private collaboration. The Continuum, founded in 2001, was a community-driven collaborative of providers, government agencies, funders, advocates, and people who were homeless or formerly homeless. Its twofold purpose was to oversee the Plan and to manage funding for homeless services from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The creation of the Alliance united key stakeholders involved in ending homelessness: service providers, philanthropic leaders, the research community and people who have experienced homelessness. It removed duplication of effort, optimized the use of limited resources, and strengthened the work of implementing Chicago's Plan to End Homelessness.

In 2011, the Chicago Alliance and the Emergency Fund consolidated operations, and the combined organization is emerging as a powerful leader that influences each of the three pillars of Chicago’s original Plan to End Homelessness – homelessness prevention, housing, and wrap-around services.  The two organizations maintain separate 501(c)(3) statuses while working closely together under the auspices of All Chicago – Making Homelessness History.

Services 

The Chicago Alliance brings together all of the essential components for addressing homelessness in Chicago, while removing duplication and optimizing the use of limited resources. We target key opportunities to advance Chicago’s Plan, strengthen weak links within the homeless services system, and secure the needed resources to move this important work forward.

All of the following activities outlined are intended to create the most effective homeless services system so that vulnerable residents receive the necessary resources, training, housing, and opportunities to become or remain self-sufficient:

  • Chicago’s Plan 2.0 – A Home for Everyone (Plan 2.0): Chicago’s Plan 2.0 – A Home for Everyone – that serves as the blueprint toward the vision of a city in which everyone has a home. Plan 2.0 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 through 2019. As the major private sector partner advancing Plan 2.0, the Alliance identifies critical system needs and facilitates the development of and implements leading practices to improve homeless service delivery in Chicago.

  • Collaborative Applicant: The Alliance is the collaborative applicant for the Chicago Continuum of Care (CoC), securing HUD CoC-funding for Chicago’s homeless services system. In collaboration with the CoC, City of Chicago, and other stakeholders, the Alliance submits the most competitive application annually to increase and maintain national supportive housing resources in Chicago, totaling over $50 million.

  • Homeless Management Information System (HMIS): The Alliance manages Chicago’s HMIS, including city-wide technical assistance and training. HUD requires that all HUD-funding programs record data in the HMIS database. In order to stay nationally competitive for federal funding, Chicago must improve our data collection efforts and use of data in local planning processes. Improved data collection will allow Chicago to become more competitive in securing public and private resources to combat homelessness, identify housing and service gaps, and develop data-informed strategies and reports. In 2012, the Chicago Alliance took on technical assistance and training responsibilities for HMIS, and gradually assumed full administrative responsibility for the database by yearend.

  • Unified Funding Agency (UFA): The UFA is a new administrative function ushered in by federal legislation for housing and homelessness funding – the HEARTH Act – through which one agency will distribute all HUD CoC-funding to homeless services agencies in Chicago. The Alliance is building its internal and the CoC’s capacities to become the UFA and administer and manage the significant amount of CoC-funding contracts in Chicago. Local management of these dollars provides communities with many benefits including priority setting, the ability to keep unused dollars in the community instead of returning them to the federal government, and a more streamlined and improvement-based approach to contract administration.

  • Advocacy Support: The Alliance serves as an advocacy portal to alert the CoC of vital advocacy efforts and assists the continuum in finding advocates. All Chicago also provides training for advocacy through The Learning Center.

  • Capacity-Building Support: The Alliance provides capacity-building support and brings resources to the CoC in order to expand investment in Plan 2.0.

  • Commissions and Constituency Groups: Chicago’s commissions and constituency groups have a strong voice in the work of the Alliance and actively participate in strengthening the effectiveness of homeless services in Chicago. The Alliance provides these front-line, expert groups with resources, information, and technical assistance.

Impact 

Services and Programs

The Chicago Alliance assumed the administration, training, and technical assistance responsibilities of Chicago’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS)* in May 2012. A few months into this new responsibility, we completed a major system upgrade and began training users. Our intent is to ensure quality data collection and reporting that is critical to securing resources.

The Chicago Alliance, in partnership with the Emergency Fund, piloted an Emergency Fund for Consumers. This one-of-a-kind initiative places people who are currently or formerly homeless in control of helping other people at risk of homelessness. The Consumers Commission+ of the Alliance distributed $5,779.73 in financial assistance.

The Chicago Alliance secured vital public funding for Chicago: $57,317,876 in HUD funding for housing and homeless services projects, and $705,771 in State of Illinois Homeless Prevention Funds. This process is a massive undertaking, and includes evaluating each project to ensure they are operating successfully. It also requires the Chicago Alliance to assess Chicago’s progress on combating homelessness, as well as identify strategic ways to achieve the goals of housing stability for everyone.

 

System Coordination and Planning

At the request of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness worked closely with key stakeholders to create an updated version of Chicago’s Plan to End Homelessness. The process engaged local and national expertise in facilitated sessions that also allowed for community comment and feedback; nearly 500 individuals participated. The result, Chicago’s Plan 2.0 – A Home for Everyone, is a broad-ranging, seven-year action plan that reaffirms and builds on the strategies of Chicago’s first Plan and aligns our community with national best practices. Mayor Emanuel released Plan 2.0 in August 2012. The Chicago Alliance is working closely with Chicago’s Department of Family & Support Services (DFSS) to monitor progress on Plan 2.0 implementation activities and discuss strategy. In addition, the Chicago Alliance has developed a project management tool to track action steps, responsible parties, timelines, intended outcomes, and status for all 80 action items in the Plan. The city of Chicago has invested $2.5 million in Plan 2.0 priorities, specifically youth services and employment. Since its release, the Chicago Alliance has presented Plan 2.0 to hundreds of people, including foundations and elected officials.

The Chicago Alliance participated in the development and planning of the Central Referral System (CRS) for permanent supportive housing, which launched in October 2012. Now Chicago has one online database for extremely vulnerable residents seeking this type of housing.

 

Advocacy

The Chicago Alliance, along with our statewide advocacy partners made significant inroads with state funding. The 52% cut to the Illinois Emergency and Transitional Housing program was restored, and a $6.4 million increase for homeless services in Illinois’ FY 13 budget was achieved.

The Chicago Alliance initiated a site visit campaign to help service providers engage and educate elected officials in their work and the strategies of Plan 2.0.

 

Partnerships

The Chicago Alliance partnered with Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA) Criminal Records Corp on their project designed to eliminate or mitigate employment barriers for individuals experiencing homelessness. The project educated individuals about their legal rights and assisted them with getting their criminal histories expunged or sealed.

The Chicago Alliance collaborated with the Midwest Harm Reduction Institute on their Harm Reductions Housing Summer Conference and moderated a consumers panel on the benefits of harm reduction housing (harm reduction is a service approach that offers a spectrum of strategies for managing substance use or behavioral issues.