Agent for the Homeless in Chicago?
November 10, 2016 8:37 PM   Subscribe

How do I pay someone to walk a homeless person through getting paperwork, and other services?

Hi there, I am trying to help out a homeless person and get them set up to be self sufficient. I have some extra money, and ideas, but not enough knowledge and not enough ability to do it myself. I have talked to a couple dedicated charity services that do these things but they have limited availability, especially going into the winter.

My idea is to get him a reliable car so he can work, doing Lyft or food delivery or whatever he feels like doing. Once he gets going he would be able to afford housing, food, cleanliness, and all that other stuff that goes along with participating in civilization.

I'm looking for someone or some service help him out, be his agent, which would include knowledge about how to navigate the various paperwork feifdoms out there to reacquire things like his drivers license and things like that. They wouldn't need to know everything about every little agency, but I would think a general knowledge of the system and ability to how to find out what specific requirements things need will be best. We are in Chicago, so a place that knows or is in Illinois may be necessary. If they were able to drive him to different places to get what he needs that would be great, but I can do this.

All fees or charges that are needed will be paid for by me. Bonus points if they take some kind of retainer, where I pay a lump sum and they pay said fees from there.

Things that need to be done, roughly in order of most pressing on down:
- Drivers license. He knows how to drive, claims a decades old DUI but otherwise no other impediments to getting relicensed.
- Housing. He has intermittent housing with family now, but not reliably. He currently lives in Garfield park, Madison and Pulaski, but is not necessarily tied there. Perhaps more expensive but regular temporary housing at first, then a less expensive apartment later.
- Knowledge. He is not very good with technology, and would need to learn to use his phone more proficiently to use different driving labor services. I was thinking a basic community college course or other private computer proficiency course.

Thank you for your help, and any ideas or suggestions are welcome.
posted by Evilspork to Law & Government (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I tried to write an answer, but it for me all kind of hinges on this question: did you work together to come up with this list of priorities?
posted by aniola at 9:43 PM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yes.
posted by Evilspork at 11:52 PM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Is he a part of any particular demographic or community group? Often distinct groups will have peer navigators, who might be willing to work this or do side work in this.
posted by corb at 11:54 PM on November 10, 2016


I think you need to re-jig your priorities. Get him housing first, a stable addresss so he can establish residency, be eligible for social services, and have a foundation to build on. You don't want something temporary, get a one year lease in a pleasant, safe neighbourhood. As he has no credit/job you may want to rent it yourself and then legally sublet it to him (this exposes you to liability, however). For the next priorities, you may want to reach out to current student/recent graduates of a social worker program. They will know the system as well as how to establish healthy boundaries.

Are you also purchasing a decent car for him, paying registration, mechanical repairs,detailing, parking space rental, and paying for the insurance in his name (or adding him to your policy)? "Jobs" like Lyft or food delivery that require such a large financial investment may result in no actual income after you look at the cost of the initial investment. Self employment also requires a high level of personal organization and self-motivation - which seems a stretch for someone you describe as lacking basic cleanliness. You don't want to set him up to fail with unrealistic expectations right from the start. And I assume you are okay with the thousands of dollars (wouldn't one year of rent + car + insurance be close to $20,000?) you are about to spend ever be returned to you. How will you handle it if you end up seeing him be given all this opportunity and racking up another DUI where he wrecks the car? Or chooses to not work, or returns to his former life despite the apartment you are paying for? If you can't do all this as a true gift, with no expectations, you may be setting *yourself* up for failure.
posted by saucysault at 2:00 AM on November 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


You need to be much more specific about the needs of the person you're (very kindly!) trying to help. How old are they? How long have they been out of regular employment? How did they become homeless?

This isn't being nosy, and I'm not suggesting you share those details here but these variables may lead very different kinds of support requirements. For example, if the person was only recently homeless through some economic upheaval but otherwise relatively healthy and used to routines, they may just need a regular Personal assistant, but if they have issues with mental health (either because of or resulting in) long-term unemployment you're talking more of a care assistant or case worker to help them transition into some stability before they will be ready to pursue self-sustainable work.

Your first step may be to find someone to help them fully assess what's feasible in their given circumstance.
posted by freya_lamb at 3:14 AM on November 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


I volunteer with an organization in NYC that focuses on helping homeless people find stable housing. They have found that stable housing is the single most important thing to help people get to improved outcomes. I do not have direct knowledge of Chicago organizations, but here are some resources from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless that may help.
posted by bedhead at 8:54 AM on November 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


"Jobs" like Lyft or food delivery that require such a large financial investment may result in no actual income after you look at the cost of the initial investment.

A very good point, and something I should have written more about on my end. The thought was that I would get a small, reliable, high mileage car (one I found that looks promising would be a used Prius C with extended warranty) and pay for it with a loan, under my insurance. As much cost as possible would be on me. I have the available credit, and this would be relatively easy with my resources. I'm nowhere near rich, but I have some extra money every month that I'm not using. I would cover gas, but the thought continues that he would be able to pay for gas with income he is able to make from the car, and also have the general benefit of having a car to do nonjob things he wants to do.

Self employment also requires a high level of personal organization and self-motivation - which seems a stretch for someone you describe as lacking basic cleanliness. You don't want to set him up to fail with unrealistic expectations right from the start.

Definitely. We talked about it, and I made it clear he doesn't HAVE to work, or use the car to do work things, but once he does have the car he can do what he wants. I am definitely wanting this to be a 'gift' as you mention, and not some kind of money pit. If it's a noncar job he likes better, or works better, he knows he can do that instead. With Lyft or delivery work he would be able to work as much as he wants, or not work when it's not convenient, as opposed to a wage job which would want more structure from hours and from him. But having a car and temporary housing will net him a shower too, and all that is most of the way to getting any job. :)

And I assume you are okay with the thousands of dollars (wouldn't one year of rent + car + insurance be close to $20,000?) you are about to spend ever be returned to you.

It's a risk I'm willing to take. It looks like about $10k for the Prius with a dependable warranty. Since I will be insuring it, if anything happens to it then I get recompensed. When we talked I also made it clear that I expect nothing in return, no payback, nothing, unless he feels it's appropriate and it's not going to hurt him. We didn't go into it much but my suggestion was something like $100 a week or month once he's going under his own power, but again, no requirements. If he steals the car, or totals it, I get repaid. If he burns his own opportunity by getting a DUI, that sucks, but it's something I tried to fix and am OK with if it doesn't work out, and will try again.

You don't want something temporary, get a one year lease in a pleasant, safe neighbourhood.

Rent is harder. Rent or a lease isn't something I'm as easily able to afford, and paying for that wouldn't give the benefits of him having a car at his disposal. One month's rent here would be more than all of the monthly costs of the car stuff, and at worst he would be able to sleep in his own car. I thought of temporary housing because that's something I can afford short term, it would get him off the street sooner, and if the other aspects of this go well he would be able to rent or lease a place himself. I didn't think of the other benefits of having a physical address, though.

How old are they? How long have they been out of regular employment? How did they become homeless?

He is mid 40s, black, seems relatively healthy, said he qualifies for Social Security disability, but other than that I didn't think to ask, unfortunately. It seems like he's been out of work and homeless for a while. I just now remembered that SSD has work finding programs, and I did mention to him that I know a private program which helps with SSD claims.
posted by Evilspork at 11:00 AM on November 11, 2016


Have you looked into any of the programs that Goodwill offers for job seekers? It looks like in Chicago they have quite a few resources available. They offer tech workshops, computer/internet/file storage/printer access, resume help, and try to match people up with jobs that are appropriate to their skills.
posted by amicamentis at 2:10 PM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


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