Accessing the Safety Net is a report of the Public Benefits Hotline Research Project. It presents a portrait of a year in the life of the public benefits system in metropolitan Chicago (Cook County) from the perspective of individuals trying to navigate within it. It analyzes the record of calls made to the Public Benefits Hotline by area residents reporting difficulties in obtaining access to benefits. It reveals systematic difficulties that Chicago-area residents have experienced in accessing safety-net programs. The record of calls also illuminates some of the rarely seen day-today realities of a complex administrative system at work.