Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How The Issue Of Homelessness Is Addressed In the 48th Ward

Residents in the 46th Ward can only watch in wonder and awe.

The 65-bed REST shelter in Edgewater lost its home, and Ald. Mary Ann Smith's office addressed the situation with her Zoning and Planning Committee and kept the ward's residents in the loop. In her ward report, she explains the temporary solution reached.
  • Transparency of the process.
  • Input of the residents.
  • Meeting with surrounding block clubs.
  • Conditions that the shelter must meet.
  • Public meetings to discuss the situation.
  • Information about what's happening, as it happens.

All things the 46th Ward is sorely lacking when it comes to discussing homelessness -- or anything else -- with Ald. Shiller.

In a longer email to the residents about the same issue, Ald. Smith writes: "Consider taking responsibility for a designated trouble spot in your neighborhood where homeless are congregating. Providing access to better resources, but then enabling the same unacceptable behavior to continue, is unacceptable. By having community commitment to reporting and noting where problems are developing, we can get at them earlier. You can get involved by getting this information to us directly, to your block club, or to CAPs."

We at Uptown Update wonder how long it will be before Ald. Smith is called a hateful, elitist yuppie gentrifier.


  1. The simple fact is that there ARE many more yuppie gentrifiers in control in Smith's ward than in Shiller's.

    Uptown's Yuppies and Shilleristas continue to angle for political and social control, and should the former prevail, there will one day be a new alderman issuing press releases like this one.

  2. And to my point of "catching more flies with honey"...since community stakeholders are now part of this process I predict that we are likely to see two positive outcomes. 1) An increase in volunteering or donations to Care for Real and 2) engagement with the topic resulting in a more well-rounded appreciation for the issues.

    When more people get involved, actions and ideas can become contagious. People will talk about their experiences to their friends and neighbors and then perhaps more good can come. See, this is where I differ from the Shilleristas. I believe in the inherent goodness of all people. Middle class people with property, dull-normal jobs and even a healthy dose of elitism can still do amazing things. But no one can do it alone. Times are tough all around. We need to reach out in friendship.

  3. PS: Unfortunately, I think you are spot on, BillyJoe. Helen seems to only want to go down with a fight and a scorched ward. It doesn't have to be like that. I, for one, appreciate some of the things she accomplished in her earlier days, her sense of the neighborhood's history/trajectory and her knowledge of working the Chicago machine. IMHO what we need is leadership, not closed doors.

  4. I see the matter as good governance… governing for the people, by the people - and if I may add, with the people. Ald. Shiller has never been known to work with the communities she governs. She works on agenda bases – her agenda that is… those who support her are in favor as long as they fall lock step behind her agenda. It will be interesting to watch when they start fighting her too. May I remind one that, what goes around comes around!!

  5. billyjoe, the difference is that Mary Ann Smith won't make it a war between the have's and have-not's. That's why the community can work together. Helen has never shown any interest in developing those skills of encouraging collaboration.

  6. billyjoe, it almost sounds like you agree that the 48th Ward did a good thing by actually publicly discussing this issue and coming up with a sensible solution. good management, security, defined hours, and transparency are all good things. it is sad that shiller has no desire to bring the community together.

  7. The sticking point is that they want to put the homeless shelter in the old location of Pasteur, right on Broadway. Granted it's right next door to the Smith and Shakowsky's combined offices so I guess they're cool with it, but it still seems like a bad location. But yeah, Smith's office is pretty responsive to residents, regardless of whether they are "yuppie gentrifiers". And based on what I see and hear from the community meetings, they are NOT in control of the ward. More like longtime homeowners and regular renters.