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Stevenson Center, homeless, Cook County


As research intern for the Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County from 2008 to 2009, I served a primary role as the 2009 Homeless Count Coordinator. I approached this challenge with a background in politics and applied community development from Illinois State University’s Politics & Government Department and the Stevenson Center for Community & Economic Development. With such a strong foundation in related academic fields, I focused much of my time on utilizing Social Capital Theory to plan the 2009 Homeless Count in suburban Cook County. This paper will present the 2009 Homeless Count in suburban Cook County as a case study for investigating the impacts of social capital on the 2009 Homeless Count, homeless counts in general and, in the broadest sense, for the homelessness services field as a whole. Specifically, I will outline the processes of planning, implementing and executing a homeless count – including the creation of partnerships, methodology selection, volunteer recruitment and management, data analysis, and follow-through. It is the goal of this paper that the 2009 Homeless Count case study will illuminate not only the great impact of social capital in the implementation of successful homeless counts, but also the great potential for continued social capital building as an impetus for future successes in the homelessness services field.

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