Steven Delgadillo

June 29, 2017
Julia Weegar

A Portrait of Homelessness

Steven has been homeless since 2013.

“My goals are to get my own key to my own home. A place where I can do my artwork. A place where my grandkids can come visit me.” – Steven Delgadillo  

Steven was raised in Chicago with his seven brothers and two sisters. His father died from cirrhosis leaving his mother to raise the children.

“We grew up on welfare,” says Steven. “But there was no begging – we had too much pride.”

Steven dropped out of high school to help his mother support his brothers and sisters.

“I had a shoe shining box and charged $.50 to shine shoes in front of a tavern. I gave the money to my mom,” says Steven.

Steven worked as a grocery store clerk and a mail order clerk. He worked two jobs in manufacturing and factory assembly at the same time. He was a housekeeping supervisor at Marriott Hotels. And, he was a night supervisor for a shipping company.

At 42, Steven received his GED. He went on to college and was three classes short of getting his associate’s degree.

“I wanted to get a degree in Art,” he says. “I’m an artist – I draw with pencils and I paint portraits. I also sculpt in soap.”

Married and divorced, Steven has two sons, a daughter and eight grandchildren.

He was in an accident which resulted in his inability to work. Unemployed, Steven couldn’t afford his rent. In 2013, he started sleeping outside in parks and under viaducts.

“People from Franciscan Outreach would check on me under the viaduct,” says Steven.

A case manager encouraged him to stay at Franciscan Outreach’s shelter on Chicago’s West Side.

“When I first put my head on the pillow, I didn’t want to sleep outside anymore,” says Steven.

His case manager helped him get on Medicaid, a link card, on a waiting list for housing. And, he attends regular support group meetings, including Life Skills training and Critical Thinking.

“There are no barriers at Franciscan Outreach,” Steven says.

Steven Delgadillo is a part of the Franciscan Outreach Mobile Gallery – A Portrait of Homelessness in Chicago

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