More than 166,000 people are homeless in Chicago during a year's time according to an estimate by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. As many as 15,000 people are homeless on any given night in Chicago.
Since Pacific Garden Mission was begun in 1877, the face of the homeless population has certainly changed. Today, 48% of the homeless are single men, 38% of the homeless are families, 14% are single women, and 4% are young people. African-Americans make up 77% of Chicago’s homeless population, 12% are white, and 9% are Latino.
As many as 20% of homeless people work full or part time, but still cannot afford to pay rent. A worker in Chicago has to earn a wage of $17.13 an hour at 40 hours a week to afford the fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment. Families with children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.
23% of the homeless are veterans. More veterans are homeless today than the number of U.S. soldiers who died in Vietnam.
What are the primary causes of homelessness in Chicago? There is a real lack of affordable housing. In Chicago, there is a deficit of 153,000 apartment units affordable to families earning less than $20,000 per year. Over 37%t of renter households pay more than 30% of their income for rent. Over 12% pay more than half of their income for rent. The waiting period for public housing is over five years and the waiting period for Section 8 certificates is ten years.
Another cause of homelessness is the lack of decent jobs or sufficient income. Chicago lost 340,000 manufacturing jobs between 1971 and 1991. The vast majority of these jobs paid living wages, unlike most service sector jobs. A family of four must make $7.57 per hour to bring its income up to the federal poverty level. However, a family of four living in Chicago must make $22.63 to earn an annual income of $47,076 to meet a basic budget including rent, transportation, and childcare. For every job that pays a living wage, 114 people seek that job.
Homelessness can also be caused by a lack of adequate health services. A national study indicates that 13% of homeless individuals became homeless due to health problems. In Chicago, the rate of tuberculosis infection is three times higher among the homeless than among the general population. 10% of homeless people in Chicago are HIV positive. 30% of the homeless suffer from varying degrees of mental illness. Only 5% - 7% of homeless people with mental illness need to be institutionalized. As many as 95% could live in community settings if the proper supportive housing were available.
Sin has a lot to do with homelessness—34% of homeless adults have a substance abuse problem. Physical and sexual abuse, loss of a parent to crime and prison, even laziness—all contribute to homelessness. An estimated 75% of the men in prison come from broken homes. The breakdown of the family because of sexual sin, divorce, and abandonment of the family by the male is a primary cause for the filling of homeless shelters.
The Homeless Outreach at Pacific Garden Mission meets the immediate physical needs: food, clothing, and a comfortable and safe place to sleep. Counseling is provided to help deal with the effects of physical abuse, broken relationships, and substance abuse. Most importantly, we seek to meet each individual's spiritual need: forgiveness of sin and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Many services are offered to PGM guest: shelter, food, clothing, basic medical care, and as shown above haircuts
Everyone who comes to the
Old Lighthouse is counseled
from the word of God.
Homeless men and women
hear the Gospel message in
three powerful services a day.
Those in need receive free
medical and dental care.
The Thanksgiving meal is
always a special occassion.