Feb 1, 2013

FromChicago Sun-Times

Westchester-Based Group Keeps Count of Suburban Homeless

By Todd Shields

The suburban Cook County agency that monitors the homeless employed a deeper survey tool this year to help house the most unprotected.

The Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County, Westchester, conducted its bi-yearly Point in Time homeless count Jan. 24-26.

Added to the usual survey that collects basic demographics, the agency also asked for phone numbers, emergency contacts and took photographs of the unsheltered homeless.

The new survey approach, called the 100,000 Homes Campaign, is a national movement of communities finding permanent homes for unsheltered people.

So far, 100,000 Homes have housed 28,400 people, according to the nonprofit Community Solutions that oversees the campaign.

Jennifer Hill, executive director of the Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County said the survey also asked health-related questions.

“Research has shown that certain factors can lead to dying on the streets, such as frostbite and hypothermia,” she said, explaining the survey also scores a person’s risk level for morbidity.

“We collect this information and then line up housing with these most vulnerable of people in mind.

“Faceless numbers may be helpful in the abstract, but this campaign puts names on faces,” she said.

Jake Maquire, spokesman for Community Solutions, said repeated studies over the last 10 years found that permanent housing is less expensive to taxpayers than chronic homelessness.

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