"Over the past few months, many of you have contacted my office about the homeless individuals living under the viaducts along Lake Shore Drive. There has been a marked increase in the number of people encamped in these areas, and this is concerning for many reasons.
|photo courtesy of Mitch Dudek, Chicago Sun-Times, 5/2/2016|
To that end, I have been working closely with the City of Chicago, its Department of Family & Support Services, other elected officials, homeless advocate agencies and various social service agencies in our ward to support a pilot initiative.
This pilot program, part of a recently formed Task Force to Reduce Homelessness, is specifically focused on housing the 75 chronically homeless individuals they found living under the Lake Shore Drive viaducts. As a guide, this pilot program uses the “housing first” model, which aims to effectively secure permanent housing for those who need it and to provide the social supports necessary for them to get back on more stable ground. Then, in a coordinated way, the homeless living under the viaducts will be transitioned into these units.
Efforts are already underway, and all of the individuals have been assessed for their housing and social service needs. The Task Force’s goal is to have them housed during the summer.
While these homeless individuals may be the most visible example of our neighbors who are struggling during these challenging economic times, they are by no means the only ones. Care for Real, our community food pantry, has fed 5,700 people and provided clothing to 1,400 in April alone, a 15 percent increase from last year. Other social service agencies are seeing similar increases in people needing assistance.
In the coming months, I will be asking for your help in ensuring that this pilot program is successful in providing safe, quality housing in a dignified and unified manner. Please look for more information in future newsletters about ways you will be able to support this effort. This is an opportunity for our community to come together and make a long-lasting, positive impact on one another’s lives."