As a result of the pandemic, we realized that more than ever, homelessness in Elmhurst was a massive issue, and despite the existing solutions, there was still a lot of work to be done. We interviewed community members and District 25 Council Member Shekar Krishnan in order to determine why homelessness was such a pervasive issue and what was being done to solve it. Through our community needs assessment, we determined that many people weren't receiving the help they required and were being overlooked.
We worked with the New Life food pantry and health center to learn more about the problem, as they were deeply involved with helping the homeless population. We worked with them to learn about common causes of homelessness and the issues that homeless individuals face to better understand the problem.
After learning more about homelessness, we decided that the first phase of our project would be distributing care packages to homeless individuals in Elmhurst. In the packages, we included daily essentials like hygiene products and clothes that we thought would be most helpful to them. After our initial distribution, we asked tweaked our packages with feedback from the people we helped in order to better address the issues they were facing.
For the second phase of our project, we wanted to focus in on community organizing principles in order to create long term change. We worked with the health center and brought homeless individuals to New Life so that they could receive professional medical support. In addition, we helped the food pantry in distributing food to them. We hoped that by bringing them to New Life, they would be able to come back and receive long term help, even after our project.
In addition, we volunteered at St. James Church, which had an existing program to feed and house homeless individuals on a regular basis. We worked with the staff there to provide hot meals and support for the homeless individuals served there.
In all, we hope that our project was able to both support the homeless population in Elmhurst and also deconstruct the stigma around homelessness by involving community members in our project. We hope that you can do the same and help to solve this problem in our community!