In June, Comptroller Susana Mendoza participated in Covenant House Illinois’ Sleep Out: Women Unite to raise awareness and funding for homelessness programs in our state. She spent the night sleeping in a cardboard box at St. James Commons in Chicago alongside several other women.
Covenant House Illinois provides homeless youth with safe shelter and wrap-around services, including education and job training, so they can move forward to an adulthood free of poverty and the threat of homelessness.
During the Sleep Out, the Comptroller met teenagers staying at Covenant House and talked with them about their stories of homelessness, the turbulent journeys that led them to Covenant House, and their future aspirations. The Comptroller also met graduates of the program who are finding success and stability either in college or in the workforce.
“I have learned that the morally correct thing to do often is the fiscally sound course of action. Preventing homelessness saves taxpayers money.” —Comptroller Mendoza
An estimated 4.2 million U.S. children will face homelessness this year. In Illinois, more than 10,000 people experience homelessness on any given day. That includes people in both urban and rural areas.
Many people, through no fault of their own — job loss, prolonged illness, family issues — find themselves homeless. And it’s not always obvious to their friends or colleagues. It comes in many forms and has many causes.
The chronically homeless often end up in emergency rooms, jail, or extended hospital stays that cost taxpayers more than programs that help the homeless get back on their feet. According to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, housing just one homeless individual saves a community at least $10,000 annually.
“Homelessness is a problem we cannot ignore,” Comptroller Mendoza said. “I have learned that the morally correct thing to do often is the fiscally sound course of action. Preventing homelessness saves taxpayers money.” The Comptroller noted that everyone has the opportunity to make a difference by volunteering at a local homeless shelter, donating money or supplies, or working to raise awareness.
“Homelessness is a real issue, but it has a solution. We can fix it,” Comptroller Mendoza said.