History of CCO

A History of Care to the Chicago Homeless

Cornerstone Community Outreach (CCO), an Illinois non-profit 501-c3 organization, was founded in 1989 to raise the quality of life for people experiencing homelessness in the Uptown area of Chicago.

For over thirty years, CCO’s programs have expanded to serve nearly 500 men, women and children daily. With Cornerstone’s help these families and individuals can begin to build a new life, one step at a time.

CCO has a long standing commitment to providing shelter and finding homes for families and individuals who are at the greatest risk of being excluded from necessary services. CCO operates 3 main shelters, Hannah, Sylvia, and Naomi, out of our two main facilities on Clifton Ave.

In 1989, CCO opened its doors and Hannah Shelter for homeless single mothers with children. At the time we were the only shelter that accepted children along with their mothers. Over the years, CCO has helped thousands of single mothers find housing, jobs, and education.

Today the program is still going strong. Our resident mothers and their children all live together in a large dormitory style room with bunk beds and an area for personal items. Along with basic shelter, our residents receive personal case management, three meals a day, and advocacy to receive housing, aid and benefits. 

Over the years, it became clear that there were many other family situations that are impacted by homelessness. So in 2001, Sylvia Shelter opened to serve intact families of all kinds. Throughout CCO’s long history, the organization has welcomed those who other shelters were often unable to serve: single dads with kids, guardians with kids, same-sex couples and falilies with teens.

In addition to serving families of all kinds experiencing homelessness, CCO also houses individual men and women through our Naomi Shelter. Over the years this program has gone through many changes mostly due to varying locations, but now the women’s Naomi Shelter has settled in our Sylvia Shelter Building on Clifton Ave. The men’s Naomi Shelter is about a mile north of our main buildings at Epworth United Methodist Church. Both shelters include personal case management, meals, and advocacy to receive housing, aid and benefits.

At Cornerstone Community Outreach, we not only want to provide housing to residents but we also want to provide food to the hungry. From our beginning we have partnered with the Greater Chicago Food Depository to feed our residents and neighbors. Every year, we receive over 274,000 pounds of food from GCFD for our daily residents meals and our food bag program that gives out groceries to our neighbors who are food insecure.

Over the years, CCO has stood in the gap for the people of Chicago who are experiencing homelessness. As one of the largest shelters in Chicago, we care for people from all walks of life. The mission has always been to make sure each person no matter who they are or where they come from has access to housing, food, and dignity.

If the CCO mission resonates with you and you would like to partner with CCO, go to our Partners page to find out more about how you can help as a donor, volunteer, or intern.