Helping the Homeless of Humboldt Park

Homelessness and inadequate housing are serious problems in Chicago, especially in the low-income Latino neighborhood of Humboldt Park. As you walk from one end of the park to the other, nearly every park bench is occupied by someone who calls it home.

But thanks to the Chicago Community Trust Fellowship, social service agencies are getting more funding to combat the housing crisis in this struggling neighborhood. (See Chicago Community Trust: Chicago Area Grants).

The Trust Fellowships aim to nurture professional development of local leaders with the potential to increase their impact in the public or nonprofit sectors. The Fellowships come with cash awards to help leaders put their ideas into practice. (Read CCT senior program officer, Jim Lewis' IP profile).

Among the recent crop of CCT Fellows is Executive Director of Humboldt Park Social Services Delia Catalina Ramirez, who received a grant of $30,000. Delia runs the Center for Changing Lives, which is a spiritually-based agency striving to end homelessness by providing services to aid permanent housing arrangements.

CCT President and chief executive officer Terry Mazany noted, "Each Fellow has enormous talent and potential in his or her field. We are excited to see the leadership that they bring to their field and to the Chicago metropolitan area." Other grant recipients include Ana Guadjaro of the Immigrant Worker's Project and Eric Weinheimer of the Cara Program.

The Chicago Community Trust has long funded efforts to reduce homelessness in the city. For example, it has contributed between $10,000 and $150,000 to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless every year since 2007.

As an emerging leader in the Humboldt Park social services community, Delia Catalina Ramirez plans to use CCT's grant to organize projects that provide interim housing to the homeless, food pantry and clothing distribution to the needy, and soup kitchens for the hungry. It's an uphill battle for social service leaders in all neighborhoods of Chicago, but hopefully with grant funds like these, Humboldt Park can finally begin to see some improvements.

The next round of CCT Fellows won't be announced until next year, but guidelines for applicants will be available on the Trust's website by this Spring.