Homelessness can strike anyone. In the U.S., most people are one rent payment away from potentially being on the street. And in today’s pandemic, more people are struggling, leading to homelessness and panhandling.
People panhandle for various reasons. It could be a loss of housing or income, mental health or substance abuse, or family issues that lead to isolation.
When you are experiencing homelessness, it affects a person’s dignity. The stress is high; you are in survival mode in part because of the lack of life’s basics: shelter, food, income, support.
In partnership with the Oak Park Homelessness Coalition, we are actively working to offer options and outline resources for those in need, as well as patrons of Downtown Oak Park to provide a safe and inviting environment for everyone in our downtown.
We urge you to treat people with compassion and dignity, which is why we have developed resources to help residents, businesses and those experiencing homelessness in our community.

If you are approached by someone panhandling or experiencing homelessness, please remember we are all human. Know that kindness, dignity and compassion are most important. Having a conversation with someone can be a simple and helpful act of kindness.

If you want to help the person, options include:

  • Present the person with a resource card, which provides a range of services available to help with homelessness and mental health, substance abuse and financial issues. Resource cards will be available soon.
  • Donate or volunteer with one of numerous organizations in Oak Park, including Beyond HungerHousing Forward and the Oak Park Homelessness Coalition. By volunteering, and sharing that information, it is a reminder that you are working toward systemic change to end homelessness by making it rare, brief and one time.
  • Contact the Housing Forward Street Outreach team. Housing Forward works with those on the streets each day, and can assist with getting help for the individual.
  • Purchase a suspended coffee to feed someone in need at Delia’s Kitchen, 1034 Lake Street. See below.
  • If you encounter someone who is aggressive, please call the Oak Park Police Department at 9-1-1 in an emergency or 708-386-3800 in a non-emergency.

Buy a suspended coffee at Delia’s Kitchen. $6 buys you a coffee PLUS a meal for someone in need. Veronica, Delia’s Kitchen owner, tracks donated meals using a token system. When someone purchases a suspended coffee, a free meal token gets added to the bin.

Those in need of a free meal are welcome to come to the restaurant Monday through Wednesday from 7-10AM or 1-3PM. Must show shelter ID.

If your business is impacted in some way by someone loitering or panhandling, consider engaging the person.

  • If someone is loitering or panhandling on private property, you can kindly ask them to leave.
  • Resource cards will be available soon to hand out to someone in need.
  • If someone is in need of help, you can contact the Street Outreach Team of Housing Forward.
  • Downtown Oak Park is working to develop a suspended coffee/meal program for those in need. Please let us know if your restaurant is interested in participating in this program.
  • If someone is being truly disruptive, please call the Oak Park Police Department at 9-1-1 in an emergency or 708-386-3800 in a non-emergency.

Order take-out or delivery from your favorite Downtown Oak Park restaurants on Thursday nights from 5-9PM to support local businesses & help end homelessness. Grab take-out and dine outside at the public picnic tables on Westgate or enjoy delivery at home! A percentage of take-out & delivery sales will be donated to the Oak Park Homelessness Coalition.

Click here to find participating restaurants, menus & specials.