Saturday, May 16, 2009

A Way To Address Uptown Panhandling?

A reader writes in with the following link:
"I came across this article at Windy Citizen about business owners in Portage Park investing in a part time social worker to help relieve the panhandling problem in their area long-term. Looks like it could possibly be an effective and compassionate way for organizations to address Uptown's situation.
Read the article here.


  1. I don't think this approach would work in Uptown. The area in the article does not have the social service providers that Uptown has. Look at the 4700 block of Sheridan, there are beggars and the like all within 100 feet of Heartland Alliance and the Dept. of Human services. The same goes for 4500-4700 Broadway.

    Maybe the providers could use extra money to do more street outreach. But in Uptown all a panhandler has to do is walk a short distance to find help. IF THEY WANTED IT.

  2. You said a mouth full " IF THEY WANTED IT" I got so sick of them I try to avoid walking through uptown at all. I believe they are beyond help and the help that social services give them is not for booze and drugs either. I would love to give them all something to handle and it not pocket change either.....

  3. I asked this question a while back and wasn't sure if I got an answer. While I want to believe that social service orgs. like Heartland and others are trying to help people get their lives on track, how successful are they? In other words, what about accountability? I think there was an example a few weeks ago featuring a story on a young homeless man in the area who was staying at a shelter for older men; I think James C. stepped in and was working to get the young man in a program that would ultimately help him more. The services seem to be run poorly; what/if any scrutiny do they face? Regulations by the state? When I lived in St. Louis for a couple of years, I lived downtown. There were some shelters a street over. One day a rude kid (couldn't have been more than 18) hit me up for change. I asked him if he had tried any of the places nearby for help - that I didn't give money out because I didn't think it would be used for the right things. He said he was thrown out of a couple of the shelters for breaking the rules, but would always get his meals anyway. Its a tough situation, but If there isn't any progress being made, do the service centers continue to get funding?

  4. freddie....agencies like Heartland and C4 receive fees for services provided. They provide a service and submit a bill to the state and receive payment for the service. They are then routinely audited to ensure they are providing the service they bill for. However most people need a mental health disability to receive services from these agencies and a lot of the people you are seeing do not qualify as they do not have a mental illness. There has also been drastic cuts to programs serving the mentally ill as well as the general homeless in the last several years, so there is less help to offer. Also there has been a drastic reduction in affordable housing in Uptown and throughout Chicago, leading to more homelessness.

  5. NM and BF-- I wouldn't be so quick to judge. Most people who I work with want to change, but there are so many barriers to recovery from trauma, addiction, and mental illness, it's no wonder many feel lost. Just think, if you're that hopeless just seeing these folks, imagine how they feel.

    Could we use better outreach/engagement/case management with the homeless in Uptown? You bet. Could we use more housing programs that aren't concentrated in one part of the city? You bet. Does blaming the sick individuals for being sick help anyone at all? Nope.

    Just remember, not everyone had the supports you had to get to where you are right now.

  6. David the social services could do more outreach but they have no carrots at the end of the stick. Ask any of them how many openings for housing they have. Or how long their waiting list is. How do you engage a homeless person and tell them you can help but it might take 6-10 months, maybe. How can you build trust with nothing tangible to offer. The homeless person will have no respect for the agency or they have been burned by them so many times they won't even talk to any agencies.

    David if you really do work with these people what can you offer them that isn't just the promise of help sometime in the future?