Clerk, Chicago Coalition for Homeless team up to reach disenfranchised
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 22, 2008
- Clerk Orr's office
- Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
In an effort to increase voter registration among low-wage and homeless voters, the Cook County Clerk's office has trained staff and volunteers who work with 27 homeless shelters, soup kitchens and transitional housing programs.
"Voting is a right everyone should exercise, including the homeless," Orr said. "We need to dispel the myth that you need a roof over your head to be qualified to vote."
The deadline to register to vote for the Nov. 4 election is just two weeks away. Voter registration ends Oct. 7.
For this registration effort, Orr teamed up with the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, which mobilized service providers and volunteers from suburban Cook County and Chicago. Nearly 60 people were trained Sept. 16. The trainees work with groups that serve families, older youth and adults, including Inner Voice, The Night Ministry, Teen Living Programs, Thresholds, South Suburban PADS and West Suburban PADS.
On a typical night, 21,078 people are homeless in Chicago, according to a 2006 CCH study. As measured by families, Chicago Public Schools reported a record homeless enrollment in 2007-08 of 10,642 students, 9% more than the year before. More than 22,300 homeless students are enrolled across Illinois. Homeless people include those who live doubled-up in someone else's home out of economic necessity; only 22% were housed in shelters, according to the coalition study.
"We may be homeless, but we're not hopeless. We need to stand up and be counted," said Chicago Coalition for the Homeless executive director Ed Shurna.
Like all voters, homeless voters need to meet the following qualifications: Be a U.S. citizen; be at least 18 years old by Election Day; and have been a resident of their precinct at least 30 days prior to the election. Two forms of identification are needed when registering to vote.
The homeless often face extra barriers when they seek to register because they may lack a valid mailing address or appropriate identification. A valid mailing address is necessary because a canvass card is sent in the mail after a registration is processed. If that card is returned as undeliverable, and a second notice also fails, the person's name will be removed from the rolls.
To ensure homeless voters get registered, they can use the address of a relative's home, or the shelter, church or soup kitchen they frequent.