There are thousands of people in the region living without a roof over their head.Jose Reyes is one of them, he was homeless for six years.
"They got me permanent housing now," Reyes said. "They treat me better at this place and I don't have to worry about freezing out there anymore."
The "Chance 4 Change" initiative took a chance on Reyes and now his life has completely changed. Reyes got involved in a program helping the homeless through the Rock River Housing Coalition. Those in need, who reach out for assistance, get placed in permanent housing.
Angie Walker is a housing advocate for the City of Rockford, she's helping lead the "Chance 4 Change" initiative. Since January, the program has placed nearly 60 individuals and families into housing. Of that group, five were homeless veterans and more than a dozen lived out on the streets for years.
"We have vowed to end veteran homelessness by the end of this year and we are working to end chronically homelessness by the end of 2016," said Walker. "So we definitely have our work cut out for us."
Walker estimates there are around 60 homeless vets in the Winnebago and Boone counties. She says placing them and others into housing, not only benefits the homeless but taxpayers as well. Reyes once called an ambulance just to have a warm place to stay. Coalition members believe "Chance 4 Change" will cut down the cost of paying for emergency services or jail time, for those without a home.
The program receives funding through a program with the Housing Urban Development. Residents enrolled in the 'Chance 4 Change' program are required to meet with a case manager. Reyes and others now with a roof over their heads now have a future to look forward to.
"I don't have to worry about where I'm going to be next time and I don't have to worry about freezing either," adds Reyes. "I can finally smile again."
If you're interested in learning more about the program you can go to the Winnebago County Health Department at 555 North Court Street in Rockford.