Friday, May 6, 2016

Ald. Osterman On Homeless Encampments and Housing-First Pilot Program

From Ald. Osterman's weekly newsletter:

"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
As Alderman, I am committed to cultivating a safe environment for everyone who lives in the 48th Ward, and this includes ensuring safe shelter is readily available as an option for the homeless in our community.

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."


  1. The problem is there is a deliberate effort by the usual Uptown "Activists" to actively encourage -MORE- homeless to move in as this first batch (who were actively enticed to move into the viaducts with supplied tents and grills over the past year) is moved into housing under the pilot program.

    Uptown is being held hostage with this contrived crisis by a few zealots who want to see a return of the slummy Uptown of the Shiller days...

    Here is a quote from Robert Rohdenburg on everyblock:

    "Vacancies under the viaducts caused by the 75 viaduct homeless being housed by the pilot program WILL be filled by other homeless until the city has a much more comprehensive and extensive plan helping ALL the homeless of Chicago."

    I, for one, am tired of being held hostage with these Occupy tactics,which are using the homeless as hapless pawns for the optics of it all. Uptown is -NOT- the mecca for the homeless.

    The SDS radical days of Slim Coleman and Helen Shiller are long over (and proven to be a dismal failure), and its time to stand up to what are tantamount to fascist tactics of using the homeless as pawns in a stupid ideological ... entirely contrived..."Struggle."

    If the current Aldermen in the 46th and 48th wards are too afraid to stand up against this blackmail...Then its time to vote in some new ones who will....

  2. Fascism? Ridiculous.

    The logic is very simple - many people are unconcerned about the homeless problem in Chicago. They instead only concern themselves with the homeless-where-I-can-see-them problem.

    The only way we'll get viable long term solutions is for the homeless population to stay visible. And under the viaducts is a great place for publicity.

    The people who live there are not pawns. The better comparison is African American civil rights activists who sat down at the lunch counter and took a very public stand against racism.

    1. Please by all means take it to the Fullerton ave. viaducts and see what happens.

    2. That may be the most selfish thing I have ever read. You want these people to stay on the street rather than get decent housing???

      "The only way we'll get viable long term solutions is for the homeless population to stay visible. And under the viaducts is a great place for publicity."

  3. So, again, ward out of fifty... is being held hostage to keep a city wide problem in the news.

    Furthermore, the "solution" proposed is to build all this housing in Uptown.

    And thanks for openly admitting you are ok using the homeless as mere props to fund semi permanent holding pens for them, instead of helping those who want help to break free of the cycle of homelessness.

  4. "held hostage" is overly dramatic. Having to see the people under the viaducts is not that horrible, especially compared to having to be homeless in this city of ours.

    The reality is, a lot of very progressive people live in Uptown. As such we will always be a lightning rod for issues around social justice. There are lots of conservative places where the homeless are driven away. Maybe you'd be happier in one of those places.

    FYI :Your last paragraph makes no sense. (Just so you know I'm not ignoring it so much as I am helpless to respond to random statements)

  5. "Maybe you'd be happier in one of those places."

    Imagine if a "Progressive" person in say...New Bern North Carolina...were told this with the seriousness you've just related it to me...

    No doubt, you would be appalled, and the hue and cry of bigotry would be spread all over. Scenes of Rod Steiger in "The Heat of the Night" would be evoked.

    So, what you are really saying is that "Progressive" people of Uptown are as bigoted and xenophobic as any cheesy stereotype every attributed to a Southerner. That's the "reality" you've just presented Two Mamas.

    But, back to the homeless. Enabling these hapless souls with the promise of tents and grills, so they can serve as a backdrop for an interminable "Struggle", does nothing to better their position in life nor helps solve the city-wide issue of homelessness.

  6. "FYI :Your last paragraph makes no sense. (Just so you know I'm not ignoring it so much as I am helpless to respond to random statements)"

    Written quickly by old thumbs on a phone. Let me rephrase:

    There is no solution being offered except for "housing" the homeless. This solves nothing. It just places them in Dickensian holding pens like Lawrence House was.

    Nor should it be expected that Uptown bear the brunt of being the primary site for these human warehouses for the entire city.

  7. Saw them have a great barbeque going.

    1. I especially enjoy it when the enablers host banquets (for lack of a better word) down there in the middle of the evening commute. It's really fun trying to dodge people running back and forth across the road without any regard of oncoming traffic. Imagine the outcry when one of these folks gets smacked by a car, driven by someone who works to support themselves. Oh how the lawsuits will fly.

  8. I just want to know this: Are taxpayers supporting the care and welfare of the homeless? And how much? Will the homeless be required to pay "something" towards their rent or is it rent free?
    Finally, are there any efforts by the city to find the homeless their relatives who might take them in? NYC had a program that was very successful, finding relatives who were willing to take the homeless in. Sending them back to the relative with a one-way ticket.

  9. The plan is not to remove anyone, see link

  10. The goal is not to clear the viaducts?????


  11. The activists most certainly are using the homeless individuals as their pawns. But for their actions, the homeless would not be congregated in such a way and in such a place. Who are they kidding in saying that they are not?
    Their "leper colony" approach to the homeless is the same as their "leper colony" approach to the mentally ill and is the same as their "leper colony" approach to those on in public housing and on public aid. They want power and they seek to get it by gathering all those individual into one neighborhood and pulling them away from their own communities. Thus, they believe that they can increase their visibility and political power. Nevermind what it does the the individuals (pawns) whom they claim to represent. Did they ever get elected or asked to be the spokeman for these people? Hell no. This is not a grassroots movement with leaders growing out of the population of the homeless. Nope, this is just another example of an pre-existing activist group imposing themselves on whatever they feel is the cause of the year that will get them more attention and more money. It's the same pattern over and over and over in Uptown. Round them up, herd them together, claim to represent them, and them demand money for your organization and jobs your workers. They build leper colonies for power and money. Pity the pawns.

  12. Only in Uptown do self proclaimed "housing activists" protest when the city and Coalition for the Homeless make an agreement to house the homeless! What a terrible turn of events. For their egos and inflated sense of self importance, at least.

    After all, keeping the people in the viaducts is so SAFE.

    "Reports of fights, attacks, and crime in the tent villages are frequent—with stabbings, robbery, and intimidation of witnesses being reported to CWB Chicago editors repeatedly since last autumn."

    "'I caught a man brutally assaulting and stomping on the head of a homeless man,' Bruce said. He called 911 and reported that he had video of the incident."

    "CWB Chicago has received credible reports of stabbings and robberies of the lakefront’s homeless. Some of the alleged offenders—credibly identified to us by name—actually have homes, but they go to the lakefront specifically to target tent city residents."

    VIDEO: Homeless Man Battered At Lakeview Tent City

    But by all means keep the homeless in the viaducts when they are being offered housing.

  13. Hardly anyone brings up the prostitution and drug use under the viaducts. I've been finding more and more syringes lately. Heroin, crack, and meth are extremely prevalent under the viaducts. This issue could unseat some aldermen if they don't act.