Lack of Job Training

The current unemployment rate in Chicago is 10.2%. There aren't enough jobs in Chicago, and the young people vying for them are often unprepared because of gaps in their schooling and upbringing.  Nearly half of 20 to 24 year old African American men in Chicago are neither working nor in school, according to a 2017 study released by the University of Illinois-Chicago Great Cities Institute. In 2015, black men and women in Chicago in that same age range experienced jobless rates of 60%, outpacing New York City, Los Angeles, Illinois and the U.S. To put this reality in perspective, black 20 to 24 year olds were worse off in Chicago in 2015 than in 1960.


Living Wage

According to the National Low Income Housing - 2017 Out of Reach report, the Illinois housing wage is $20.87 an hour. With the Illinois minimum wage at $8.25 an hour, a worker must work 97 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, or a household must include 2.4 minimum wage earners working 40 hours per week year-round in order to make the a 2-bedroom Fair Market Rent affordable.  In Chicago, it's even higher - $23.69 an hour for a 2-bedroom apartment. Fifty percent of all renters in Chicago are cost-burdened.



Homeless youth are at greater risk for chronic health disorders such as asthma and diabetes, and more likely to suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, and PTSD. Exposure to the elements, poor nutrition, and dangerous situations that can lead to injury can create life-threatening situations. However, homeless youth face barriers to healthcare, such as lack of transportation, address requirements, lack of financial resources or health insurance, and lack of awareness of services.


Human Trafficking

One in five homeless youth is a victim of human trafficking. Studies released in spring 2017 by The Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice & Research at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Loyola University (New Orleans) Modern Slavery Research Project involved interviews of 911 homeless youth across 13 cities in the U.S. and Canada. The data showed that 19.4 percent of homeless youth have been trafficking victims – 15 percent trafficked for sex, 7.4 percent trafficked for labor, and 3 percent trafficked for both. The best way to reduce human trafficking among young people is to provide them with a safe place to stay, protected from the pimps and gangs who target them on the streets.


Juvenile Justice

Chicago's violence is intertwined with its joblessness. Just five of Chicago's 77 communities accounted for 1/3 of the homicides in 2016, and the same five had joblessness rates ranging from 79 to 92 percent for teens and 49 to 70 percent for young adults. When violence and substance abuse lead to the juvenile justice system, these homeless young people cannot be released on bail without a residential address. Arrests even without convictions leave a paper trail that makes it hard for youth to get a job offer. The juvenile justice system often cycles youth back to the problems they faced.


Foster Care

Approximately 24,000 youth age out of foster care each year. In Illinois, extended foster care services were cut off after a youth's 18th birthday to absorb cuts made to address the state's financial crisis. Research shows that youth who age out of the foster care system without a family or other safety net face a significant risk of homelessness, joblessness, welfare dependency, and imprisonment.