... or the Currency Exchange at Lawrence and Sheridan. Or the one at Montrose and Broadway. How many Currency Exchanges do we need in one area?
How many currency exchanges do you need? As many as there are people without a bank account or working odd jobs and getting paid by check every once in a while or receiving government assistance or have cars and need to get their plates and stickers.Honestly, what do you want people to do? Sure there are lots of people around the currency exchange at Broadway and Wilson, but if most of them have to use the services, then they have to use the services. This perfect world you seem to want of people never hanging out on the street or not standing on the sidewalk while you're heading to the train station isn't going to exist. Trust me, I understand your concerns about loitering and crime, and those are legit, but just wanting people to go away so you don't have to look at them... what the deal with that?how about coming up with SOLUTIONS to homelessness and crime and low-income and poverty instead of just bitching all the time about people hanging out on the street? Has anyone here ever ASKED any of those guys sitting on that guard rail that you're always documenting WHY they're sitting there? It might actualy help you come up with a solution as to how to get them not to do it.
BTW, I'm an Uptown/Edgewater resident since 1985 and seen it go through many changes. I understand your concerns but many times it seems like nitpicking. Focus on the bigger issues and the problems like people hanging out in front of a currency exchange will take care of itself.
Darwin had an idea that if left to run it's course without governments getting involved would end homelessness.
Anonymous, I don't disagree with you. I don't believe my post said anything about loitering, people working odd jobs, or anything against the solutions both you and I hope for. It was purely a comment about saturation of one business in a very concentrated area. To further illustrate my point, in this same area there are thousands of people who need to eat, but there aren't four grocery stores. I'm happy to further discuss my views, and have on this board before, but please refrain from assuming an implied message where there is none.
3:25 post: My solution would be to relocate all of them 5 miles east of Uptown. Seriously why don't you ask them? Assuming you don't get cursed at or assaulted, please post their reponse on this website?
This perfect world you seem to want of people never hanging out on the street or not standing on the sidewalk while you're heading to the train station isn't going to exist.Except it DOES. In many, many places. I've lived all over the country and, yes, there are many cities and towns where you actually DON'T see people sitting on bus benches drinking, or begging outside stores, or living in parking lots, or passed out in the middle of the sidewalk.I have no problem with people whose circumstances are rough. (One of the advantages of having a very diverse family ... including people who are, yes, homeless and if they lived in Uptown would be lining up at the REST shelter for a bed.)What I have the problem with is that Uptown is freaking VALHALLA for social services, yet the tolerance by the powers that be make it a haven for folks from all over the city who run scams, break the law, and have no interest in improving their lot in life. But they all flock here because they know that everything they need to live is right here, being given to them nightly, and there's very little fear of being held accountable for their actions when the alderman has decided the root of all evil are the "bad apples" who buy condos and pay her salary.Today I saw a young slight woman walking down the street, and a guy who was begging outside the currency exchange approached her and aggressively panhandled her, following her for half a block, yelling at her, and trying to get her attention. She was visibly shaking and practically running away from him by the end.Because this guy made the decision at some point to eschew the social services that could help him escape a life on the street, the corner of Broadway and Wilson is now a scary place for a woman to walk in broad daylight.And you wonder why Uptown Update runs photos of these folks? They're part of the reason people still crinkle their noses when they hear "Uptown." They're the reason that woman will think twice about taking a walk on a nice afternoon in this neighborhood.
Except it DOES. In many, many places. I've lived all over the country and, yes, there are many cities and towns where you actually DON'T see people sitting on bus benches drinking, or begging outside stores, or living in parking lots, or passed out in the middle of the sidewalk. Really? And where are these places and do they have a population over 500,000?I have no problem with people whose circumstances are rough. Good. Then you understand the need for currency exchanges, places where folks without the means to open a bank account or for whom credit is a distant dream can go.Because this guy made the decision at some point to eschew the social services that could help him escape a life on the street...I acknowledge that. You're right. There are people who shun social services for whatever reason (apathy, insanity) So like I said before, what is your SOLUTION, not your gripe? what do you want people to do, other than just go away?I'm not defending the "poor homeless" and definitely not siding with Shiller. I came to this blog because it was interesting to note the changes in the area and to see the actions of concerned citizens.
It was purely a comment about saturation of one business in a very concentrated area.I understand that, but the same could be said for bars around the Lawrence and Broadway area, yet no one has complained about those. Fat Cat? Crew? Uptown Lounge? Kinetic Playground? Green Mill? Where's the anger over that? That;s what leads me to make the conclusion I did.
My solution would be to relocate all of them 5 miles east of Uptown. Seriously why don't you ask them? Assuming you don't get cursed at or assaulted, please post their reponse on this website?I have at various times, though not in Uptown, but other places. And I haven't been cursed at or assulated. Course it could be because of my size, but I'm not afraid to ask them or say a firm "no" if I'm hit on for change, which is frequently.
I like to ask the bums for money before they have the chance to ask me for mine.
My dog seems to like the homeless people we stumble upon in the area they must smell good to him.
I hope we get something useful in the location Currency Exchange is vacating. We don't need anymore hair extension, or gangbanger clothing outlets in the area. Somebody ought to open a nice independant coffeeshop, or a nice bar at that corner.
gangbanger clothing outlets?
Yeah you know the stores that sell that gawdy crap they like to wear. Like t-shirts with dollar signs and Mercedes emblems. Or hats with gucci or Louis-Vuitton logos all over them. Or my favorite the hoodies with the skeletons on them.
Whatever moves in here is most certainly going to have to install a schvoogie button. A must for all retail in Uptown.
And where are these places and do they have a population over 500,000?Oh, Christ. Now you're expecting an almanac.Okay, let's start with the easy ones. Old Irving Park in Chicago. Edison Park in Chicago. Midtown Manhattan. West L.A. (where I did see day laborers at 5 a.m. waiting for construction jobs on Sawtelle Avenue, but that's the only time.) I can see more loiterers while driving to the grocery store in Uptown than I did total when I lived in those areas.Then you understand the need for currency exchanges, places where folks without the means to open a bank account or for whom credit is a distant dream can go.Whoa, girl! Who said I had a problem with currency exchanges?What I have a problem with is a currency exchange that does nothing to stop people from hanging out outside of it. And the people who sit on the guardrail begging for money. And peeing in the alley. And verbally and physically assaulting the people who try to shop anywhere near it. And, oh yes, let's not forget about those who sit on the CTA bus benches under signs that say "For CTA passengers only" and drink beer.I used to work non-traditional hours and I used currency exchanges a lot because they were the only places open where I could buy quarters to do laundry or get a money order in the middle of the night. And I never saw ANYTHING like the situation at Broadway & Wilson. I'd go to any other currency exchange in the city rather than go to the closest one to my house.And that's my gripe -- Uptown has all the resources to help, yet accepts and condones the illegal and aggressive behavior of people who come here for the freebies and have no intention of changing their lifestyles.And the people who suffer for it are the law-abiding residents. Some accountability, PLEASE.So like I said before, what is your SOLUTION, not your gripe? what do you want people to do, other than just go away?Oh, I didn't realize that the solution to homelessness could be found on a blog! If only the social scientists knew about this!Seriously, start with some good reputable social services whose interests lie with ending the problem rather than profiting by its continuation.Then, don't say "Oh, this is just how Uptown is." Look at the behaviors and prosecute the ones that aren't legal (from public drinking to public urination to loitering to aggressive panhandling to trespassing). Make an alternative to "serving the time" be "getting into the abundant social services network that already exists steps away."My elderly neighbor was just institutionalized because he was violent and delusional. He had a home, and yet his behavior was such that the neighbors were nervous enough to call Senior Services and the police. He's no longer a danger to himself, his family or the neighborhood.WHY is it that, somehow, there are different, lower standards for people living on the streets?And last, force accountability from the people who can make changes, like the alderman, the mayor, the cops. If this isn't acceptable in Lincoln Park, it's not acceptable here. It's time for the same zero-tolerance policy in Uptown as in the surrounding communities.I have much sympathy for people whose lives have put them in a position where they're on the street and on the dole. The difference is, it shouldn't be such a comfortable place that they get everything they need without changing their antisocial and illegal lifestyles.People complain about a "nanny state" that won't let them talk on a cell phone while driving or smoke in a bar. To me, Uptown is a much worse version of the nanny state, where needy people are kept in an infantile state and never expected to grow up.The fact that we have something like 200 social services in a one square mile area is just a cruel joke when you see the people who live on the streets and have no interest in doing anything else.
The poor do not have to rely upon currency exchanges and their exhorbitant fee structures any longer. The federal assistance programs switched to ATM style cards years ago, to help eliminate the fees many paid to get their checks cashed. The new system also eliminated many check abuses, such as the drug dealer on Agatite who acted as the SSI check recipient for many homeless in our community and who distributed the benefits to the beneficiary in drugs. The system is hooked up with banks so that low income persons can get no-monthly fee bank accounts. Unfortunately, some people with creditors on their tail are afraid to use bank accounts for fear that the creditors will garnish their welfare-to-work wages or place liens on their checking accounts. That is where the free credit counseling services of our many social agencies can assist.Likewise, the laws have changed so that illegal immigrants can easily bank in the U.S. So, there really is not the need for credit unions that there was in the past and the poor would be better served no to use them an needlessly pay high fees for routine financial transactions.
If wishes were horses, beggars would rideIf turnips were swords, I would wear one by my sideAnd if "ifs" and "ands"Were pots and pansThere'd be no need for tinkers' handsAND if the social services in Uptown were truly helping the destitute of Uptown I would applaud them. Unhappily, most of them are simply poverty pimps. Sad. We do not need Labor Ready to help the crappy social services that continue to exploit our less fortunate neighbors.
how about coming up with SOLUTIONS to homelessness and crime and low-income and povertyI think the reason why caring and clear-headed people often complain about loitering, petty crime, aggressive panhandling, public urination, public drinking, and littering is that there are a lot more things that we can be doing but we are not. Have you ever noticed how many cops, social workers, scholars, public servants, lawyers and other similarly credentialed people contribute to the comment section of this blog? I know it seems overly simplistic to blame Helen Shiller for--as some people say---"everything," but she has been feudal master of this place for a long time. She has an ideological stance on poverty and crime that has proven to be ineffective from a public policy perspective. At heart, the woman is a community activist and an agitator. There is certainly a place for people like her in civic life but on balance it has been an egregious mistake for her to serve as alderman for so long. I believe that Uptown would be in a much better place if we had had someone more moderate step in about 10 years ago. In a city that revolves around clout, she has been unable to return any spoils to her ward and has been unable to influence her peers. Not only that, but she has also enabled some of their worst tendencies rather than critiquing and challenging them. After her long tenure, we are still a heavily ethnically and racially segregated city and the issue of affordable housing only remains a hot button one in Uptown and Roger's Park. While that has preserved a certain kind of affordable housing in these areas, her approach has only resulted in other parts of Chicago being able to shift the responsibility to these areas that are willing to take it on or are unable to prevent more of it from coming. Furthermore, the rhetorical tactics that she often uses (and it appears Daley is finding to be effective too) preserve and perpetuate the racial and ethnic divisions that exist in this city for short-term political gain. I don't know about anyone else, but it makes me sick to watch people who claim to want an end to racism take every opportunity to inject "race" into every discussion by taking the first opportunity to declare their political opponents evil bigots and themselves to be selfless spokespeople for the cause of justice. It is a tired rhetorical trick but people are still using it and still falling for it. Of course race still matters in our City but unchecked economic and political power has been a lot more of a threat to the poor and working class people of this city over the last 20 years. I will grant that Helen Shiller's heart may be in the right place but her ideological stance and ineptitude when it comes to the really complex issues facing her ward have largely brought us to where we are now. I think people were hoping that she would be the proverbial "squeaky wheel" for Uptown but instead the outcome has been "bring your tired and your poor...and we will love them." Morally this is the right thing to do but it can't be all you do.And now that gentrification (how I hate that word) has achieved critical mass, all we are seeing is more baiting, provocation and power grabs rather than workable plans. So, the solution requires a fundamental change in leadership, a redistribution of responsibility from the ward-level back to the city and state and also an influx of public and private resources that will address the problems rather than excusing them away.Sorry for the long post. If you've gotten this far, thanks for reading my thoughts and UU for indulging me.
Saskia, I am impressed with your abiblity to offer such a coherent overview of the issues plaguing Uptown. You say, "Have you ever noticed how many cops, social workers, scholars, public servants, lawyers and other similarly credentialed people contribute to the comment section of this blog?" Yes I have, and while I understand the frustration we all have felt over the frequently discussed issues like crime, public urination, and loitering, I cannot help but be a bit turned off by the ratio of complaints to actual action, especially since so many of us are educated and capable of putting our energy toward positive action. Also, while I am not by any stretch of the imagination a fan of Shiller, to villify her exclusively is overly simplistic, and worse, completely ineffective. On that note, as a relatively new resident of Uptown, I ask this: What are some decent, non-pimping agencies in Uptown that I can look into to donate my time and do something for this community?
Thanks, Sugar Magnolia. I, too, am turned off by the ratio of complaints to action but I think the tide is turning in no small part from the fact that this blog exists. At the current moment, I think that the problem with doing more is that it will have to be done exclusively outside of local government. That is hard. Lately there has had to be be so much "reacting" (chasing down zoning changes, for example) that organizing to be forward thinking has been tough with the underfunded and volunteer organizations we have. The one funded organization who could be leading the way with the commercial retail aspects (BP) has been slow on the uptake, despite community interest. Residents are also skeptical as to how much the leaders are invested in Shiller, her social service proponents and the status quo.As for positive action, this is what I am doing. I support the McCormick Boys & Girls Club and the local public schools. (Don't forget that book drive!) I am active in my block club and I want to see UCC stronger across both of the wards. I used to be a fan of Inspiration Corp. but with their support for Labor Ready and refusal to communicate with the community, I am no longer a fan of their leadership although I think their approach is terrific. I am still trying to figure out which organizations in O.N.E. dissented against Labor Ready so that I could support them further. At the moment, I have positive sentiments about REST, the Salvation Army on Marine/Lawrence, Enterprising Kitchen, EZRA on Wilson and all of the local food pantries. There is a desperate need for meat, fresh milk and fresh fruits and vegetables at these pantries. The ethnic organizations are also important to this community but I know less about them.If anyone has further ideas of the organizations that are making a positive difference in our community, I would like to know as well. I would also like to know which ones would actually like to improve their relationship with local property owners and to work on mutually beneficial projects. Clearly, the interest is here.
By the way, most advocates for the poor are critics of Currency Exchanges. They charge exorbitant amounts of money to simply cash a check, and the interest rates on those "Payday Loans" are predatory. Currency Exchanges EXPLOIT the poor. They do not help them.
Amen uptown rising! make it a (watch out evil word) STARBUCKS! Or independant coffee shop - they would rake in the cash being right next to the el stop.
What El stop?
Call me high-fallutin(sp?), but I don't understand what is so hard about getting a bank account. Its free, and pretty easy to setup. Unless you're an illegal immegrant, there really isn't a reason to have one.And why is credit a distant dream? Seriously, this stuff just isn't that hard.
Banks often charge fees when minimum balances are not met. That is tough for people who really don't have much savings that stay in the account from month to month.