In November of 1999, the City of Chicago forced the homeless who were living on Lower Wacker Drive out. Many started living in the doorways of vacant spaces on Michigan Avenue. As a real estate broker specializing in retail leasing on Michigan Avenue and Oak Streets, I had to ask them to leave because their presence would adversely affect the ability to lease the spaces to retailers considering locating to Chicago. It felt like I was “kicking” them out and I spoke with the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association, of which at that time I was an officer and director indicating that we had to do something about the situation. Since they didn’t have enough staff, I asked if they would back me if I initiated a way to address the issue. They agreed and I gathered representatives from several organizations. Since our first meal in 2001, we have served 175,000 meals. CHI has evolved over the years from providing one meal a week to expanding our services to include many programs.
Bill Protzmann, A.H.O.
Founder and Consulting Educator