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Our Mission

The Emergency Fund provides immediate financial assistance to help Chicagoans through a crisis or transition.

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The Emergency Fund helped Ramona get back on her feet.

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The Emergency Fund

Our History 

The Emergency Fund was founded in 1973, Norman H. Stone, a local businessman and philanthropist.  Mr. Stone heard of a family in need and wanted to help them but could not find a financial assistance program in Chicago that operated in a quick and efficient manner. He took the initiative and created the Emergency Fund, which rapidly began covering costs for medication, food, bus passes, and even refrigerators.

In 2012, All Chicago Making Homelessness History was formed through a collaborative partnership of the Emergency Fund, the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness and The Learning Center to become a leading source of homelessness prevention. The Emergency Fund’s purpose of helping vulnerable people in financial crisis has remained unchanged since the fund was established in 1973 by Norman H. Stone. On May 21, 2015, the Emergency Fund officially merged with its partner organizations.

Thanks to our generous supporters, the Emergency Fund is on the forefront of financial assistance distribution in Chicago and will continue to help individuals and families in critical need.


The Emergency Fund administers five programs:

Flexible Financial Fund

The Flexible Financial Fund is the primary program of the Emergency Fund. It is designed to prevent a sudden financial setback from becoming a long-term financial crisis. The two types of grants we offer through our Flexible Financial Fund are:

  • Crisis Solution Grants: Our Crisis Solution Grants are designed to help provide immediate help to people experiencing a crisis. Crisis Solution Grants are often used for transportation passes, food vouchers, eye glasses, prescription medicine, and clothing. Payments are made directly to landlords, utility companies, or other service providers on behalf of the client.
  • Self-Sufficiency Grants: Our Self-Sufficiency Grants are designed to help move families to a more sustainable income. They assist families with rent, utilities, and basic necessities while the head of household completes an employment program.

If you are seeking Flexible Financial Fund assistance, please contact the Homeless Prevention Call Center.

Special Funds

Special Funds are specially designated funds that provide financial assistance for basic needs for specific target groups. If you are seeking Special Funds assistance, please contact the Homeless Prevention Call Center.

State Homelessness Prevention Fund

The Emergency Fund was selected to administer the state of Illinois’ Homeless Prevention Funds for residents of Chicago. These funds provide assistance for security deposits, rent, mortgages, and utilities. Individuals whom seek assistance from the State Homeless Prevention Fund, must contact the Homeless Prevention Call Center or visit one of the Department of Family Support Services Community Centers

Student Emergency Fund

This fund assists Chicago college students experiencing a crisis or transition by distributing critical and timely financial assistance via a network of partner organizations and schools. Click here to learn more.

Rapid Re-housing Program

The Rapid Re-housing (RRH) program provides financial assistance and services to assist those who are experiencing homelessness to be quickly re-housed and stablized. The RRH Program began in Chicago in May 2013. The Emergency Fund was selected by the City of Chicago to administer the RRH funding for Chicago. The funds provide assistance for rent, security deposits, utility bills, and moving and storage costs. These funds can be used for all people experiencing homelessness, including families, individuals and youth. The Emergency Fund serves as the System Coordinator for the RRH Program and works with 6 different partners agencies throughout the City of Chicago. The partner agencies deliver case management and housing location services to eligible clients. For additional information regarding the Rapid Re-Housing Program, please click here

​​​​If you are seeking Rapid Re-housing assistance, please contact your Interim Housing Provider or call 3-1-1 and ask for short-term assistance.  

Seeking Emergency Fund assistance? 

Our financial assistance is delivered through our partner agencies. This allows us to have the greatest reach in an efficient manner. Our partners offer a variety of services to assist individuals and families with long-term solutions and/or a path to self-sufficiency. Please contact the Homeless Prevention Call Center and ask for short-term help. For a listing of resources, please click here

Interested in becoming an Emergency Fund partner?

All Chicago’s Emergency Fund Program recently announced an opportunity for not-for-profit organizations to submit a Letter of Interest (LOI) to be a partner in All Chicago's Emergency Fund Program.  Interested organizations may submit their LOI through All Chicago's Survey Gizmo at Emergency Fund - Letter of Interest (LOI) by Wednesday November 11, 2015 at 5pm.  No late or incomplete submissions will be accepted. If you are interested in viewing a PDF of the LOI, please click here

Selected organizations will be able to effectively describe how the distribution of funds will:

  • Align with the strategic priorities of Chicago's Plan 2.0: A Home for Everyone;
  • Serve traditionally underserved populations and geographic areas of Chicago; and
  • Work in conjunction with the organization's existing funding and resources.

Please contact Lynette Barnes or Dave Thomas with any questions. 


The Emergency Fund offers immediate help so Chicagoans can stay in their homes, keep food on their tables, and handle life’s unexpected needs. We are there for people who have nowhere else to turn. Our donors' support made a tremendous impact in 2014:


Total Clients Served


Amount of financial
assistance distributed


Percentage of clients
who received rental
assistance that
remain housed