Chicago’s Homeless Help To Beautify The City



These photos are from last year, but the bulbs have already started to break the ground!

Few people know how the beautiful flowers and plants that adorn downtown Chicago get there or who maintains them. One might never guess this city beautification is partly provided by Chicago’s “homeless.”

Now celebrating its fourteeth year, the Chicago Christian Industrial League’s (CCIL) Landscape Training Program has blossomed from an innovative pilot program to a multimillion-dollar model of self-help and social entrepreneurship.

CCIL trains more than 100 poor and homeless individuals each year in landscape maintenance as part of a partnership with ARAMARK and the City of Chicago. Each year, participants learn through classroom presentations that lead to planting, watering and maintenance of all downtown Chicago streets surrounding the Daley Center, the medians and planters along  Michigan Avenue, LaSalle Street and Congress Prkwy.


“Everyone talks about hopes of getting the homeless off the streets. We provide housing and literally put people back on the streets, but as productive members of society with work that pays and a renewed sense of purpose. The results speak for themselves,” according to CCIL Executive Director Judy McIntyre.

“Our partnerships are extremely valuable. Our first year, we won an award from Harvard University for offering such a unique and successful public private partnership. The City was providing opportunities for work, ARAMARK was providing business acumen and CCIL provided trainees. That’s still true today,” McIntyre explained.

Founded in 1909, CCIL provides food, clothing, shelter, counseling, training experiences, affordable housing and spiritual assistance for those who seek it. CCIL is one of the largest organizations serving the poor and homeless in Chicago. The organization relies heavily on gifts and services from the people in Chicagoland to continue offering encouragement to the poor by providing a path from alienation to reconciliation and hope, and by demonstrating that determined persons of faith and good will can successfully challenge poverty. For more information, call CCIL at (773) 435-8300.

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