Center for Urban Research and Learning


Their research goal is to work with others. Not for others, and not on others, either. It’s a small difference that has a huge impact at the Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL). Since launching in 1996 at Loyola, CURL has partnered with community leaders across Chicagoland to research the issues affecting local communities, including inequality, domestic violence, criminal justice, as well as employment.

A number of those projects have shone light on the countless situations that can leave and keep people struggling with homelessness. Most notably, a series of projects since 2008 with the Chicago Housing for Health Partnership at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago analyzed a new approach to policy called “Housing First,” the idea of first helping someone find a permanent and affordable home, before asking them to address other issues like employment, mental health, or addiction. In partnership with Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, the City of Chicago, and major philanthropic stakeholders led by the Chicago Community Trust, CURL oversaw a team of researchers in 2009 to evaluate the effectiveness of Chicago’s Plan to End Homelessness efforts. Other research projects looked at women and homelessness with Deborah’s Place and aging and homelessness by partnering again with the Chicago Alliance.

In 2011, CURL, the Chicago Alliance, and other service and advocacy organizations partnered for a photography exhibit that featured images of those who were moving from homelessness to housing. Photographer Noah Addis captured portraits of 25 men and women to show a different perspective on Chicago's homelessness crisis.

Breaking down these stereotypes is another important facet to CURL’s work. More recently, CURL has worked with the Center for Housing and Health to collect stories from those who were being resettled from the viaduct under Lake Shore Drive to permanent housing. Interviewing people before and after finding a permanent home highlighted the difference between just surviving and planning for a future.

“It all comes back to human dignity,” said Teresa Neumann, university-community research coordinator, on the project. “You are a person. You have an important story to tell. You are an expert of your own life and your own experience. That’s where University knowledge meets community knowledge—and how do we bring that all together?”

Learn more about the Pathways to Stable Housing exhibit, the photographer, and the community partners involved, including the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Housing Opportunities for Women, St. Leonard’s Ministries, Deborah’s Place, Hilda’s Place/Connections for the Homeless, West Suburban PADS, and the Alliance to End Homelessness in Suburban Cook County.