Douglas Johnson

June 29, 2017
Julia Weegar

Douglas JohnsonA Portrait of Homelessness in Chicago | Franciscan Outreach

Douglas has been homeless on and off since 1989.

“My goal is stable living. I’m trying to get my health back.” – Douglas Johnson

Douglas was raised on Chicago’s West Side. He finished high school and went on to complete three years of college focusing on business administration and bible study.

Hard work was always part of life for Douglas. For years, he worked as a community representative for Chicago Commons Association. He worked for Chicago Coalition for the Homeless helping people find housing and advocating for those experiencing homelessness. He also had a number of other positions, including sanitation engineer, carpenter and chauffeur.

Despite his strong work ethic, by the time Douglas was in his mid-30s, he became homeless. And, he has been homeless on and off since 1989. Even though he struggled to maintain stable housing, Douglas is proud of the fact that he continued to work.

Douglas has six children, 22 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren. They live in Illinois, Alabama and Georgia.

“I was raised to take care of my children. I always found time for them,” says Douglas.
“I stay in touch with them all the time. I get to see them on holidays.”

In 2015, Douglas was required to stop working due to a number of chronic illnesses.

“Not working is a new experience for me,” says Douglas. “But being at the shelter helps me to get in contact with the resources I need.”

Douglas has a primary care physician from Heartland Health Outreach and a counselor from Thresholds – both partners of Franciscan Outreach. He also receives medical assistance from the Franciscan Outreach shelter’s onsite health clinic that it operates in partnership with Rush University Medical Center.

“My case manager at the shelter helps me get the support I need to get things stable. She helped me to get on a waiting list for housing, get into recovery support groups, and get transportation passes to go to appointments,” Douglas says.


Douglas Johnson is a part of the Franciscan Outreach Mobile Gallery – A Portrait of Homelessness in Chicago