I’m originally from a small-town of Sauk Rapids, MN. I visited Chicago on vacation when I was 16 and fell in love with the city. I sold my car and moved to Chicago as soon as I turned 18 and graduated from High School.
Not knowing to much about living in the city, I rented my first place in the Uptown neighborhood. It was a huge culture change for me coming from a small secluded city in Minnesota.
I would take the CTA red line every day to go to work and would always see the same homeless people asking for money. I always told myself I would never give them money because I was afraid they would use it for drugs and alcohol. However, I would give them physical good like snacks and soda if I see them when I come out from the local grocery store. Although some wouldn’t take it though because of their bad teeth.
As I grew more with Chicago over the years and gained more success in my careers. I noticed the problem is much bigger then in just one neighborhood. I was now starting to Notice it everyday when I would get off the freeway to go to work or when I would be driving around town.
I began to think, there’s got to be a better way to help these people and regulate it so they can’t use it for drugs and alcohol. That’s when in January of 2018 I decided to create my own company that helps with that very idea. The idea was started to help just the homeless but now we help veterans and the disabled also. We started interviewing people in mid June and have helped almost 100 people in need within the Chicagoland area. We are consistently growing to help people in need.
Once I started the business I learned there are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to the homeless.
“They make six figures and they don’t report it.” “They are lazy and don’t want to work.”
I can tell you most panhandlers make $20-$40 a day and they must weather through 8 hours of heat or cold to make that happen, which is way harder than flipping burgers.
“They are leaching of the system.”
Most of them DO NOT receive any government assistance and when they do 9 out of 10 actually need it.
“They are drug addicts or alcoholics.”
Just like non-homeless there are alcoholics and drug addicts everywhere. Only 10% of homeless people we interviewed were addicted to drugs or were alcoholics.
“They have fancy Iphones or Samsung phones.”
Almost every person must use a friend, family, or shelters number to be contacted. Only 6 out of 60 people interviewed have a cell phone and it’s the cheapest unlocked phone you can buy. Only 3 out of 60 people have government provided phones.
“They should just get a job, there’s plenty of jobs.”
Almost all of them want to work but it’s to hard to find a job due to lack of resources, which we take for granted. Some also have criminal backgrounds, bad credit, or lack of hygiene which make the search harder for them and is not due to lack of trying.
Roughly 84% of homeless people had a financial fallout in their life with no family to fall back on. 6% are struggling because of prison. Only an average of 10% of people that are homeless are due to drugs or drug addiction.
All in all, if everyone chips in we can slowly start helping them get back on their feet. Helping people in need is something we have to do because without us they wouldn’t have anything at all. They appreciate any donations they can get.