WBEZ Chicago: There’s a surge in calls for shelter. Chicago’s 311 help line can’t keep up.

By Anna SavchenkoAmy Qin, June 1, 2023

“The demand for resources, be it through 311 to get people into a shelter or any other piece of the shelter system, is so much greater than what the system can handle,” said Douglas Schenkelberg, the director of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

Schenkelberg thinks Chicago should develop a long-term strategy to help both asylum-seekers arriving on the city’s doorstep and residents already on the streets. Otherwise, he said, the city “pits these two populations against each other.”

“We should focus on a single system,” Schenkelberg said, “that serves anyone who’s unhoused in the city of Chicago.”

In his mid-May inauguration speech, the former organizer for the Chicago Teachers Union promised to “Bring Chicago Home,” alluding to his support for an increased real estate transfer tax that would be used to fund homelessness prevention.