Center for Changing Lives (CCL) is a little agency making a big impact. Successfully providing a range of innovative services, CCL brings financial coaching to a population traditionally deemed unprepared for it: Households currently experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The agency offers a mini-continuum of bundled services that include housing, financial and employment coaching coordinated and integrated with income support and homelessness prevention services. CCL is at the forefront of utilizing coaching and financial capability services to prevent and end homelessness, particularly among the predominantly Latino population on the Northwest side of Chicago. CCL believes integrated, comprehensive services delivered in a long-term, highly transformative, empowered partnership are needed to ensure households move beyond crisis to stability, from immediate considerations to future ones. That belief has informed a model that is both qualitatively and quantitatively successful and has resulted in increases in participants’ financial capability, income, and self-sufficiency.
CCL’s mission is to provide comprehensive support to serve, empower and advocate for community residents experiencing homelessness or housing instability so they may obtain and maintain permanent housing. The vision is to transform lives and inspire neighbors to build a stable, supported and connected community. Financial instability, including under- and unemployment, continues to be a leading reason why many of CCL’s clients are experiencing homelessness. In response, CCL utilizes the Center for Working Families (CWF) model to increase employment, mobilize subsidies and mainstream benefits, and reduce household fees and expenses simultaneously, taking a holistic approach to building financial stability necessary for long-term housing stability. CCL is unique in that it is the only organization using the CWF model to serve households, including single parents with children, experiencing and at-risk of homelessness who are living in shelters. By successfully utilizing this model with those experiencing homelessness, CCL is bridging the workforce, financial and homeless services systems and developing an evidence-based argument for using financial services to addresses housing instability.