Mental Health Resources

Here you will find a list of crisis numbers you can use for immediate help, resources sorted by category, and answers to common questions.

Crisis Hotlines

The Trevor Line
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13–24.

Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Suicidal crisis/emotional distress

For youth between 17 & 21 that are living on the streets or in a home that is not safe.

Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence
For domestic violence

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
For child abuse

Sarah’s Inn
For domestic violence

Mujeres Latinas en Accion
For domestic violence of adults

For instances of rape, sexual abuse, and incest

Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline
For sexual assault

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline
Teen dating abuse

Safe Helpline
For members of the Department of Defense who are victims of sexual assault

To avoid foreclosure

Suicide/emotional distress

Kids Help Phone
For many kids’ issues

Disaster Distress Helpline
In case of emotional distress due to violence or disasters of any kind

For sex trafficking

S.A.F.E alternatives
For self-injury

C4 (Local)

With multiple locations around Chicago, C4 provides services and referrals for mental health, substance abuse, and sexual assault trauma. They also provide classes about mental illness.

Chicago Connects

The City of Chicago recently launched this searchable online resource that links residents to more than 300 mental health and addiction services in Chicago. The resource was developed in partnership with The Kennedy Forum.

Mental Health America

Mental Health America is dedicated to promoting mental health, preventing mental and substance use conditions and achieving victory over mental illnesses and addictions through advocacy, education, research and service.

Psychology Today

Browse Psychology Today’s extensive directory of the best therapists, psychologists and counselors near you.

Dedicated to helping you make better choices, find healthier ways to cope with problems, and resolve mental and emotional issues.

Medline Plus

Brings you information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues in a language you can understand. It offers reliable, up-to-date health information, anytime, anywhere, for free.

National Alliance on Mental Illness

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raise awareness and build a community for hope for all of those in need.

National Institute of Mental Health

Offers information on a wide variety of mental health issues.

Additude Magazine

The website for Additude Magazine, a magazine that features strategies and support for adults and children with ADHD and other LD, including blogs, community support, and practical solutions to overcome stigma and live a happy, productive life.

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) is a national non-profit organization providing education, advocacy and support for children and adults with ADHD.

The National Resource Center on ADHD is a comprehensive source of vital facts surrounding diagnosis, treatment, legal status, and education rights of those with AD/HD.

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Anxiety and Depression Association of America is the only national nonprofit organization solely dedicated to informing the public, health care professionals, and the media about depression and Anxiety Disorders.

Anxiety and Agoraphobia Treatment Center (Local)

The Anxiety and Agoraphobia Treatment Center in Northbrook, Illinois, is a specialty clinic that has been serving children, teens and adults who suffer from anxiety disorders, phobias, obsessive compulsive spectrum disorders (Tourette’s Syndrome, tics, body focused repetitive disorders such as compulsive skin picking and trichotillomania) and body dysmorphic disorder since 1983. The Anxiety and Agoraphobia Treatment Center also offers house calls and out of office exposure sessions.

Calm Clinic organizes some of the most important facts about how to treat anxiety and how to get help. It explains some methods anxiety sufferers can try themselves and also discusses various other treatment possibilities.

Autism Spectrum Connection

This site is dedicated to providing information and advice to families of more advanced individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Autism Society

Autism Society is the nation’s leading grassroots autism organization which exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism and autism-spectrum disorders.

Little Friends (Local)

Little Friends is a private, non-profit organization serving children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities based in Naperville.

Bipolar Disorder
The Balanced Mind

The Balanced Mind is a comprehensive resource for families of youth with mood disorders.

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance is full of valuable resources such as bipolar screenings, on-line support groups, and search tools for peer-recommended doctors.


Healthline is a comprehensive site for information on bipolar disorder.

Borderline Personality Disorder
National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder

National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder is a resource designed to inform the public about Borderline Personality Disorder.

Community Violence
ALSO Chicago (Local)

ALSO Chicago works locally and nationally to end street violence and intimate partner violence, understanding the connection between violence in the community and violence in the home. ALSO coordinates services with youth and families to create a better world.

BUILD Chicago (Local)

BUILD Chicago offers targeted services to enhance impact in four priority communities –  Austin, East Garfield Park, Humboldt Park and Logan Square – while continuing to provide support in other Chicago neighborhoods and throughout Cook County, including youth who have come in contact with the justice system to prevent and/or provide alternatives to detention and assist with successful re-entry into their home communities.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s website serves as a gateway to a multitude of internet resources directed toward students and parents of children who have been victims of or witnesses to traumatic violence.

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Anxiety and Depression Association of America is the only national nonprofit organization solely dedicated to informing the public, health care professionals, and the media about depression and Anxiety Disorders.

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance is full of valuable resources such as screenings, online support groups, and search tools for peer-recommended doctors.

Families for Depression Awareness

Families for Depression Awareness is a national nonprofit organization helping families recognize and cope with depression and bipolar disorder to get people well and prevent suicides.

Men Get Depression

Men Get Depression is a very helpful site geared specifically to help men understand how depression can show up in their lives.

Postpartum Depression Alliance of Illinois is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2001 to help Illinois women and their families’ access support and information about all emotional issues that can occur during pregnancy or within a year of delivery (called Perinatal Mood Disorders or PPMDs for short).

Domestic Violence
Apna Ghar (Local)

Apna Ghar provides holistic services to women and children across immigrant communities in the Chicago area to end the cycle of domestic violence.

The Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network (Local)

The Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network is a membership organization that unites the community through advocacy, education, and outreach for a common cause – to put an end to society’s tolerance of Domestic Violence in all forms.

Between Friends (Local)

Between Friends is a nonprofit agency dedicated to breaking the cycle of domestic violence and building a community free of abuse.

Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence

The Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV) is a not for profit, membership organization that works to eliminate violence against women and their children by promoting the eradication of domestic violence throughout Illinois; ensuring the safety of survivors, their access to services, and their freedom of choice; holding abusers accountable for the violence they perpetrate; and encouraging the development of victim-sensitive laws, policies and procedures across all systems that impact survivors.

Mujeres Latinas en Accion’s Domestic Violence Program (Local)

Mujeres Latinas en Accion’s Domestic Violence Program (Pilsen) works to eliminate domestic violence and assists survivors to break the cycle of abuse in their families and in their lives. It provides comprehensive services to survivors and victims of domestic violence: information and referrals to crisis intervention, legal advocacy, individual and group counseling.

Sarah’s Circle (Local)

Sarah’s Circle is a non-profit agency with a mission of serving women who are homeless or in need of a safe space. Located in Chicago’s Uptown community, Sarah’s Circle has provided support for thousands of women.

Sarah’s Inn (Local)

Sarah’s Inn works throughout the socioeconomically diverse region of Chicago’s West Side neighborhoods and Western suburbs. Sarah’s Inn provides comprehensive services for families affected by domestic violence so that they get the support they need to find safety, rebuild their lives, and heal.


Eating Disorders

ANAD is the oldest non-profit organization dedicated to alleviating the problems of eating disorders in the U.S.

The Awakening Center (Local)

With offices located in the Loop, Lakeview, and Des Plaines, The Awakening Center specializes in treating eating disorders but also provides general psychotherapy services for other disorders and illnesses. It remains committed to affordable treatment and accepts uninsured clients.

Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA)

Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) helps those who have binge eating disorder, their friends and family, and those who treat the disorder.

COR Retreat

COR Retreat is a 5-day retreat program in Minnesota for helping people overcome compulsive overeating and food addiction.


EDReferral is the most comprehensive and easiest to search database of anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorder treatment professionals in the world.


The mission of N.A.M.E.D. is to provide support to males with eating disorders & to educate the public on the issue.


NEDA is dedicated to providing education, resources and support to those affected by eating disorders.

A Safe Haven (Local)

A Safe Haven provides the homeless of Chicago with mental and behavioral health treatment, housing, education, and job training with the end goal of “self-sufficiency with pride and purpose.”

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (Local)

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless features a variety of programs, including the Law Project, which provides legal aid free of charge to homeless students and unaccompanied youth. College scholarships for homeless students are also available through the coalition.

Chicago’s Food Bank (Local)

The network through which most food programs in Chicago are run, Chicago’s Food Bank is a channel for food to find its way to the hungry and food insecure. For short-term relief, they run pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, senior programs, children programs, and more.

Deborah’s Place (Local)

Deborah’s Place is an organization that serves exclusively homeless women in Chicago and helps them find affordable housing and a reliable income.

Inspiration Corp

Inspiration Corp offer a series of programs, such as foodservice training, designed to help those affected by homelessness and poverty achieve their goals of self-sufficiency.


LGBT Resources
Affinity Community Services

Affinity Community Services is a social justice organization that works with and on behalf of Black LGBTQ communities, queer youth, and allies to identify emergent needs, create safe spaces, develop leaders, and bridge communities through collective analysis and action for social justice, freedom, and human rights.

Center on Halsted (Local)

Center on Halsted is the Midwest’s most comprehensive community center dedicated to advancing community and securing the health and well-being of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) people of Chicagoland.

Howard Brown Health Center (Local)

Howard Brown Health Center (HBHC) serves more than 18,000 adults and youth each year in its diverse health and social service delivery system focused around seven major programmatic divisions: primary medical care, behavioral health, research, HIV/STD prevention, youth services, elder services, and community initiatives. HBHC serve men and women, infants, youth, and children through a multi-site operation based in Chicago.

IntraSpectrum (Local)

IntraSpectrum is committed to providing an affirming therapeutic environment for the LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, and Intersex) population and beyond that supports the development of a strong professional relationship between clients and their therapists. The safety and strength clients draw from that solid therapeutic relationship allows them to feel more freedom to examine, embrace, and express who they really are.

Project Fierce Chicago (Local)

Project Fierce Chicago’s mission is to reduce LGBTQ youth homelessness in Chicago by providing affirming transitional housing and support services to homeless LGBTQ young adults.

Mental Health Agencies with Sliding Scale Services
Cathedral Counseling (Local)

Cathedral Counseling (an Episcopal organization) provides affordable treatment in its offices (located around the city) for a fee based on a sliding scale.


The Center for Personal Development (local)

The Center for Personal Development offers individual therapy, marriage/couples counseling, group therapy, life coaching, psychological assessment, and consulting services in the downtown Chicago and Lakeview neighborhood.

Chicago Women’s Health Center (Local)

Chicago Women’s Health Center provides reproductive health services and counseling to women and trans-identified people. They do not deny anyone service based on inability to pay and use a sliding fee scale.

Community Health

Community Health is the leader in delivering comprehensive, high-quality, patient-centered health care at no cost to low-income, uninsured individuals in need of a medical home.

Turning Point (Local)

Turning Point (located in Skokie, IL; serving the entire metropolitan area) provides outpatient individual and group therapy for all ages, psychiatric evaluation and medication monitoring, case management, and a residential living program. It provides services to all, regardless of insurance status, financial resources, or intensity of need.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Beyond OCD

Beyond OCD offers valuable facts about OCD, suggestions for treatment, high quality, user-friendly resources, and articles from experts as well as stories from people who live with OCD.


The Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Research Clinic

The Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Research Clinic works to improve current treatments, develop and test novel treatments, and determine the brain basis of OCD.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
The Chicago Center for Integrative Healing (Local)

The Chicago Center for Integrative Healing, located in Ravenswood, is an affordable health center dedicated to helping clients overcome trauma. It features traditional methods such as psychotherapy as well as nontraditional group sessions, mindfulness practice, and yoga.


PTSD Info serves as a gateway to four nonprofit sites that offer comprehensive PTSD information and resources.

Schizophrenia provides high quality information, support and education to loved ones whose lives have been impacted by schizophrenia.


S.A.F.E. ALTERNATIVES is a nationally recognized treatment approach, professional network, and educational resource base, which is committed to helping you and others achieve an end to self-injurious behavior.

Cornell University

A website for Cornell University’s research program on self-injurious behavior. This site is intended to summarize their work and to provide links and resources for information of value in understanding, detecting, treating, and preventing self-injurious behavior (SIB) in adolescents and young adults.


As part of a collaboration between the University of Guelph and McGill University, SiOS is a non-profit outreach initiative providing information and resources about self-injury to those who self-injure, those who have recovered, and those who want to help.

Sexual Violence and Abuse
Band Back Together

Band Back Together is a story blog encompassing many difficult topics. The linked page provides accurate information about date rape, or acquaintance rape.


CAASE addresses the culture, institutions, and individuals that perpetrate, profit from, or support sexual exploitation. Their work includes prevention, policy reform, community engagement, and legal services.

The Chicago Center for Integrative Healing (Local)

The Chicago Center for Integrative Healing, located in Ravenswood, is an affordable health center dedicated to helping clients overcome trauma. It features traditional methods such as psychotherapy as well as nontraditional group sessions, mindfulness practice, and yoga.

Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center

Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center is the city’s only not-for-profit organization that brings together law enforcement professionals, child protection staff, family advocates, medical experts and mental health clinicians under one roof to address alleged abuse, reduce trauma and provide resources so that children and families may begin the healing process.

It Happened to Alexa Foundation

It Happened to Alexa Foundation is dedicated to supporting rape survivors by assisting the survivor’s family with travel expenses during the trial.

Male Survivor

Male Survivor is an organization that works with adult male survivors of childhood and adulthood sexual abuse, assault, and rape. The website contains a resource directory.

Mujeres Latinas en Accion

The sexual assault program at Mujeres Latinas en Accion provides help for adult survivors of sexual assault and their family members. They are partnered with Mercy, St. Anthony, and Norwegian American Hospitals to provide care and counsel for victims immediately following the assault.

Pandora’s Project

Pandora’s Project is an online community of survivors dedicated to helping one another overcome trauma. PP provides an extensive library of articles & essays for information.

RAINN (Local)

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice. An affiliate in Chicago is the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago.


RVA is an Illinois not-for-profit organization made up of many individuals with two primary goals: to assure that survivors of sexual assault are treated with dignity and compassion; and to affect changes in the way the legal system, medical institutions and society as a whole respond to survivors.


STOP-IT is funded to work with any and all victims/survivors of human trafficking. They identify and assist victims of human trafficking and exploitation, help current and past victims, provide training, and raise awareness around Chicago.

YWCA’s Sexual Violence and Support Services (Local)

YWCA’s Sexual Violence and Support Services provide medical and legal advocacy for survivors, hotlines for short-term support, and free counseling and support groups for long-term support.

Substance Abuse and Addiction
The Addiction Project

The Addiction Project (produced by HBO) brings together many of America’s top addiction experts to demystify this much misunderstood disease.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous’ web site includes information to locate AA groups in your area.


For over 50 years, Al-Anon (which includes Alateen for younger members) has been offering hope and help to families and friends of alcoholics.

Dual Recovery Anonymous

Dual Recovery Anonymous is a support group for people living with both a psychiatric diagnosis and a substance abuse diagnoses.

Illinois Addiction and Rehab Center

The Illinois Addiction and Rehab Center offers free web information guide that connects people with addiction and their families with the help they need to put their lives together.

Narcotics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous website includes information on narcotics based support groups.

National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA)

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA) is the national nonprofit membership and affiliate organization working on behalf of children of alcohol and drug dependent parents.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Provides access to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

National Institute on Drug Abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s site includes a vast array of educational materials about specific drugs as well as the consequences, prevention and treatment of drug abuse. The site includes resources for young people, parents, teachers, researchers, physicians and other health professionals.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration works to improve the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, alcohol and drug addiction treatment, and mental health services.

Alliance of Hope

Alliance of Hope is an online organization containing a community forum, a blog, and counseling services directed toward those who have lost a loved one to suicide, including military suicide.

American Association of Suicidology

American Association of Suicidology has a cheat sheet for: how to recognize the suicide warning signs in yourself and loved ones. The website also contains a directory for suicide survivor support groups.

American Federation for Suicide Prevention

American Federation for Suicide Prevention is a resource for those struggling with suicide and those grieving because of it. Their Illinois chapter is located in Chicago.

Live Through This

Live Through This is a story collection organization – similar to Erasing the Distance – dedicated to telling the stories of suicide survivors. Trigger warning for suicide.

Teen Resources
Adolescent Mental Health Initiative

A mental health site for teens developed by the Adolescent Mental Health Initiative. Dedicated to helping teens learn how to cope with stress, take care of themselves, and understand the facts about mental health issues.

Break the Cycle

Founded in 1996, Break the Cycle is still the only agency to provide comprehensive dating abuse prevention programs exclusively to young people. Break the Cycle inspires and supports young people to build healthy relationships and create a culture without abuse.

The Covenant House NINELINE

The Covenant House NINELINE makes it possible for young people throughout the United States and its territories to gain immediate access to Covenant House crisis and counseling services 24/7. In addition to providing critical help to young people in need, the Covenant House NINELINE also is a resource for parents seeking guidance about difficult family situations or for those looking for a runaway child. 1-800-999-9999.

Focus Adolescent Services

Focus Adolescent Services is the largest and most comprehensive Internet site of information and resources on teen and family issues to help and support families with troubled and at-risk teens.

The Jason Foundation

In 1997, The Jason Foundation was founded in response to the loss of Jason Flatt – age 16 – to the tragedy of youth suicide. JFI’s mission is to provide information, tools and resources to confront the “silent epidemic” and prevent the tragedy of youth suicide.


TeensHealth was created for teens looking for honest, accurate information and advice about health, relationships, and growing up. We offer a safe, private place that’s accessible 24 hours a day to get the doctor-approved info you need to understand the changes that you (or your friends) may be going through – and to make educated decisions about your life.

Teen Living Programs

Teen Living Programs is a resource for the homeless who are simultaneously dealing with the tumult of adolescence. They partner with youth to build a foundation of skills for independent living. The teens learn how to care for themselves and their homes, foster healthy relationships, find and keep employment, advance their education, and create positive lives.

College Resources
Active Minds

Active Minds is the only organization working to utilize the student voice to change the conversation about mental health on college campuses, by developing and supporting chapters of a student-run mental health awareness, education, and advocacy groups on campuses nationwide.

Best Colleges

Best Colleges has published a detailed to help identify the signs and symptoms of the top five mental health issues for college students and where and when to seek help.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness – Greater Chicago (Local)

The National Alliance on Mental Illness – Greater Chicago’s website for college students raising awareness of the mental health resources, services, and support to be found specifically on Chicago’s campuses.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center serves as a gateway to educative resources specific to sexual assault on campus, including information on prevention, policy, statistics, and alcohol use.

The Jed Foundation

The Jed Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the young adult suicide rate and improving the mental health safety net provided to college and university students nationwide. The Satow family established The Jed Foundation after the loss of their son and brother, Jed, a sophomore in college.


ULifeline is your online resource for college mental health.


Yellowbrick is a private, physician-owned and operated psychiatric health-care organization whose mission is to provide a full-spectrum, specialized approach to the emotional, psychological and developmental challenges of emerging adults.

Illinois Joining Forces

Illinois Joining Forces is a statewide, public-private network of veteran and military serving organizations. We collaborate in person and online to help service members, veterans, and their families identify and marshal resources and services available to them throughout the state. No one organization can do it all.

Road Home Program | at Rush Medical Center (Illinois)

Road Home Program is a service at Rush Medical Center (Chicago, Illinois) that provides confidential mental health services for veterans and their families, regardless of ability to pay.    They have recently launched a three-week Intensive Outpatient Program that is available to veterans and servicemen and women.

Make the Connection

If you are a Veteran, or family member of a Veteran, facing challenges in your everyday life, you are not alone.

There are millions of Veterans and family members who have reached out for support during tough times. Their lives got better. Yours can too.

Make the Connection is an online resource sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that is designed to connect Veterans, their family members and friends, and other supporters with information, resources, and solutions to issues affecting their lives.

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans

National Coalition for Homeless Veterans is a non-profit organization whose mission is to end homelessness among veterans. They also offer some resources and Veterans crisis phone line that is open 24 hours a day: 1.877.424.3838

Frequently Asked Questions
General Mental Health
How many people are affected?

1 in 4 people will live with a mental disorder this year.

Is mental illness my fault? Can I just push through it?

Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders. They cannot be overcome through “will power” and are not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence.

Do mental health issues affect one group more than another? I have heard they are more prevalent among white people.

Mental health issues do not discriminate. People of all ages, races, cultures, genders, faith groups, and classes can and do experience such things as depression, anxiety, and addiction.

When is the typical onset of mental illness?

50% of people with mental illness experience their first episode by the age of 14; 75% do by the age of 24.

I feel like I have had depression for most of my life. Why am I only getting help now?

Despite effective treatments, there are long delays-sometimes decades-between first onset of symptoms and when people seek and receive treatment. Stigma, lack of information and education about mental illness, thinking we can handle it on our own, and fear of being judged can all stand in the way of getting help. Know that you are not alone!

What’s the best course of treatment for mental illness?

The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.

Is it only mental illness if my case is severe?

Mental illness exists on a spectrum. Some people live with severe and chronic illnesses which require treatment with such things as medication, intensive therapy, case management, and hospitalization. Others may be living with mental illness but still function at a high level. Each person is different and requires a uniquely tailored approach to recovery.

When does something I am experiencing "qualify" as a mental illness?

That is a difficult question to answer. However, one industry standard is to assess if the intensity, duration, and quality of your “symptoms” disrupt your ability to function. This can include your ability to work, go to school, establish and maintain healthy relationships, and take care of your own physical and emotional well-being.

What does it actually mean to be homeless?

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there are four categories of homelessness:

Literally Homeless -An individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence

Imminent Risk of Homelessness – An individual or family who will imminently lose their primary nighttime residence

Homeless under other Federal statutes – Unaccompanied youth under 25 years of age, or families with children and youth, who do not otherwise qualify as homeless and  have experienced persistent instability as measured by two moves or more during the preceding 60 days and can be expected to continue in such status for an extended period of time due to special needs or barriers

Fleeing/Attempting to Flee Domestic Violence

Why are people homeless?

Any individual or family who lacks the resource or support networks to obtain other permanent housing can be considered homeless.  A lack of resources may result from the loss of a job, moving to a new area, language/political barriers, domestic violence or the loss of a family member previously financially contributing to the household among various other circumstances.

What are the barriers to eradicating homelessness?

Barriers include poverty, including a shortage of affordable housing, incomes that do not pay for basic needs, and a lack of appropriate services for those that need them. Addressing all of these issues community by community is a necessary step to ending homelessness and poverty.

How do I get help finding affordable housing?

Heartland Alliance

 City of Chicago Emergency Housing –  Dial 311 to contact the City of Chicago, and ask for “shelter or services”. 311 will connect you to the social services team at the Department of Family & Support Services. 

City of Chicago Homeless Assistance – Dial 311 to contact the City of Chicago, and ask for “Short Term Help”. 311 will connect you to the Homelessness Prevention Call Center, which will assess your options for financial assistance for rent, mortgage, utility and other needs.

Chicago Housing Options.org is a tool for individuals and families to identify what resources are available today. Complete the survey tool for a listing of opportunities for those who are homeless and at-risk of homelessness.

Community Service Centers
Chicago Department of Family & Support Services is a key player in Chicago’s effort to end homelessness. DFSS services include prevention, outreach, shelter and housing programs and supportive services.  will assist you to find contact information, application process and eligibility criteria for Supportive Housing options in Metropolitan Chicago.

Is it your fault if you are homeless?

Absolutely not.  The causes of homelessness are complex and often multifaceted. Relationship breakdowns, abuse, low education levels, poor social skills and multiple physical health problems can all act as contributing factors. But above all, it is mental health that takes precedence as being both a cause and consequence for far too many.

What mental illnesses and health problems coincide with homelessness?

Poor health can contribute to being homeless, and being homeless can lead to poor health. Limited access to health care can make it worse. That’s why the health of homeless people in the United States is worse than that of the general population. Common health problems include:

  • Mental health problems
  • Substance abuse problems
  • Bronchitis and pneumonia
  • Problems caused by being outdoors
  • Wound and skin infections

Mental health problems can be broad – including, anxiety and depression, complex trauma and undiagnosed forms of personality disorders.

What can I do, as someone who lives in a safe home, to combat homelessness?

Volunteer or Donate to a program addressing the social, economic, emotional or political needs associated with homelessness.

Why are youth homeless?

This group faces complex and coexisting barriers including substance abuse, mental illness and childhood trauma.

I am a teenager who has run away from home. Is there anyone who will help me?

National Runaway Safeline

Safe Place – – Safe Place creates a network of Safe Place locations — schools, fire stations, libraries, grocery and convenience stores, public transit, YMCAs and other appropriate public buildings – that display the yellow and black diamond-shaped Safe Place sign. These locations extend the doors of the youth service agency or emergency shelter throughout the community. Youth under age 18 can easily access immediate help wherever they are.

Who is at particular risk for homelessness? What can I do to protect myself?

While homelessness is the result of complex and multifaceted circumstances, poor health can contribute to being homeless. Taking care of your mental health and physical health can minimize this risk factor.

What’s all this about homeless veterans?

In support of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Five Year Plan to End Homelessness among Veterans, the Commission is helping to develop Veterans Treatment Courts to address drug and mental health issues affecting former service members. The Commission is providing technical assistance to judges and lawyers across the country on the unique issues facing veterans, including child support arrears and other barriers to housing and employment. In addition, the Commission helps in the support and development of pro bono programs to aid veterans.