Homeless Adults with Disabilities

Susan and three of her children, Tamia, 10; Teresa, 9; and Mercedes, 7. Susan, who has learning and intellectual disabilities and bouts of depression, first became homeless at 15. She is now 36 and has retained stable housing in the Focus Hope program for over 10 years. Her oldest child, a son had become the student body president of his high school and recently left for college on scholarship.

Susan and three of her children, Tamia, 10; Teresa, 9; and Mercedes, 7. Susan, who has learning and intellectual disabilities and bouts of depression, first became homeless at 15. She is now 36 and has retained stable housing in the Focus Hope program for over 10 years. Her oldest child, a son had become the student body president of his high school and recently left for college on scholarship.

An estimated 138,575 Chicagoans were homeless during the course of the 2013-14 school year, based upon an extrapolation of how many identified homeless students were enrolled in a Chicago Public School that year. (Chicago Coalition for the Homeless Analysis, August 2014). In the U.S. Conference of Mayors 2014 Survey on Hunger & Homelessness (December 2014), the City of Chicago reported that among homeless adults, 13% were employed but were nonetheless homeless, 9% were veterans, 4% were HIV positive, 18% physically disabled, and 33% severely mentally ill. When adding the last three of these categories together, the total number of homeless persons living with some sort of disability would be 55% of Chicago’s homeless population, or approximately 76,216 people.

Unity Parenting and Counseling operates two Permanent Supportive Housing programs in scattered site apartments for nearly 50 disabled, homeless adults. Focus Hope I and II provides housing and intensive supportive services to help these adults retain and maintain their permanent housing and live healthier lives.

There are only 6,909 designated and funded Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) units for homeless persons with disabilities in Chicago. In order to qualify for a PSH unit, a homeless person must have a documented medical history with a permanent disability diagnosed by a medical doctor. Qualifying disabilities may be mental health disorders, developmental disabilities, or physical disabilities, HIV/AIDS or a combination thereof.