My name is Abraham Morris, and I am the Dax Director for Depaul USA, a nonprofit organization that serves the homeless population in Little Rock, Philadelphia, St. Louis, New Orleans, Macon, and Chicago.
In Chicago, Depaul USA has focused its work on serving the estimated 50 DePaul University students who experience homelessness each academic quarter. Depaul USA created the Dax Program in 2015, providing housing, case management, counseling referrals, transportation, food and book stipends, and educational reimbursements to homeless students. The theory of change that animates the Dax Program is that graduation and limited student debt are gateways to future independence and professional and personal fulfillment for students – and an end to their homelessness. Participants are referred to the Dax Program from a variety of campus partners and community members, including the Dean of Students office, professors, counseling department, and even students themselves, once they become aware that the program exists. Since the Dax Program started, more referrals have been coming in through the power of word of mouth.
The Dax Program opened the first Dax House in October 2017 as a lease property in the Pilsen neighborhood. Depaul USA then moved its Dax House to a former convent located in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood. The Dax House currently houses six students. Since its opening, 10 students have been able to call the Dax House home. Out of those 10 students, four students have graduated, and the remaining six students are in good academic standing. Students can sign a one-year or six-month lease with the option of re-signing. The Dax House is focused primarily on juniors and seniors, and all residents are expected to pay $150 per month and work 10 hours per week. Funded by grants found by Depaul USA’s development team, the Dax Program also reaches out to foundations that promote services to and for education and receives funds from individual donors. The Dax Gala, hosted with DePaul University, is the Program’s largest fundraising event.
One of the Dax Program’s goals is to create partnerships with other universities and colleges in Chicago to grow the program locally. There are also plans for replication to develop the Dax Program as a national model for addressing college and university homelessness. The Dax House provides students with a safe home to sleep, study, and reach their academic dreams.
For more information about Depaul USA, click here.