Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Do They Need CTA, Or U-Haul?

A couple readers sent in the photos above, both taken in Uptown. What's a real and permanent solution for them: public transportation or social services? We're pretty sure the CTA wasn't set up to handle the situations presented by these scenarios.


  1. Just yesterday I was walking at Hazel and Junior Terrace and saw a homeless-looking man pushing a shopping cart filled with two window-unit air conditioners and other electronics. He was blocking the road, and a squad car pulled up. The cops told him to clear the way, and just moved along. C'mon, man! This guy couldn't have BEEN more suspicious!

  2. Uptown R...

    I don't think you should pick on the people who don't have money when it's the people who do who are causing the "great inconvenince".

    It's the financial industry that stealing your money whether through Obama or Bush. And they are creating the situation where people who don't have money are not going to get it anytime soon so....YOU may end up like these people soon and someone with a lot of money will see YOU and call the police.

  3. The solution is a combination of affordable housing and supportive social services. Tired of seeing so many homeless in the neighborhood? Contact your elected leaders to advocate for more subsidized housing and mental health services.

  4. CTA or U-Haul... they can barely afford either. So the solution is to either simple GIVE them a place to live or get used to seeing them on the streets. There are not really enough social services out there to handle all of the people who do need help to prevent stuff like this, either the ones that are already out there or the ones who might be heading that way. And the minute you DO provide more social services people will either complain about too much of their tax money going in that direction or too many places housing people like this in their neighborhood. I mean, they gotta live somewhere, right? So if the country were to provide housing for them, where should it be located?

    Let me guess: NIMBY.

  5. This guy couldn't have BEEN more suspicious!

    Suspicious of what? Do you mean of stealing the stuff in his cart? Just wanted to clarify.

  6. MotS - Surely you're not saying Uptowners believe "Not in my back yard"?

    My back yard, and my front yard, and my neighbors', are already saturated. How about the back yards in Lincoln Park, Portage Park, Mt. Greenwood, Park Ridge (which has one shelter that's open one night a week, amidst great public outcry), Edison Park, Bridgeport? Uptown's full, thank you. There are more social services and shelters in this one area than any other area in the United States. Not good for the community, not good for those needing care.

  7. Yes, Uptown is full. It is time that the rest of the City share some of the burden.

  8. I wonder if Uptown residents can ever be referred to as NIMBYs when so many social services and shelters are already in their back yards?

  9. Kevin...
    Who is going to pay for all these social services? This country is running out of money and the people with it are being taxed more and more to pay for those who don't have any. That includes sales taxes for those who purchase goods and services. Eventually the "Rich" will not have enough to cover the expenses of those who do nothing to better themselves and the plug will have to be completely pulled. They are already starting to pull social programs because of this.

    Solution: These social programs need to stop enabling people to take free money. I am a Realtor and I have seen many people who are on Section 8 show up to look at apartments who have nice cars, nice cloths, new haircuts and expensive purses or shoes.

    Give me one good reason why my tax dollars should continue to pay for them to live in luxury while I have to pay the same amount on my mortgage they get in a Section 8 voucher.

    All of these programs should be work programs (except for the elderly and disabled). Even if you end up having to work for the city or the govt to clean streets
    clean parks, be a meter maid, etc. The city is already paying these people, why not make them work for the free money? Just my opinion.

    As a side note, my family was on public aid for 6 months when I was a kid. My parents worked their way out of the program and never looked back. Welfare should be a stepping stone, not a lifestyle.

  10. Len,

    You will never win with that argument. It actually makes sense.

    I also notice that there are many new Caddy's parked in all of the subsidized housing lots. Gee.....

    I drive a shitty car and pay for my own housing. It is the people who scam this system that have the money, not the evil condo owners...

  11. I use to love reading Uptownupdate when I first moved here. It was a great way to get local news.

    Unfortunately, the longer I read this blog the more dismayed I am by the constant complaining and blaming. If this neighborhood is so terrible why did you all move here? I find it hard to swallow such callous entries as this one. No, I don't believe the CTA was created with the intention of helping to haul a homeless person's things around. But I also don't believe that person was created with the intention of them being homeless.

    You all seem to be of the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" kind of folks but what does a person do when they have no boots? You don't want your taxes raised for social services ("I'm helping enough already!" you say), you don't want subsidized housing in our neighborhood and yet you can't figure out why there are so many without homes. "Send them to another neighborhood!" you say. You came to their neighborhood and now you are kicking them out... because you are a better class of citizen? Because you deserve this neighborhood more than they do? From what I understand this place has made great strides since the 70s and 80s... you can't really argue that you moved into a pristine community only to see it overtaken by thugs. Quite the contrary.

    What have you done to change the community lately? Are you having homeless people hauled off by the cops (clogging 911 lines that are intended for emergencies) or moved off the street to another neighborhood? Or are you making a difference where it counts - at the root of the problem?

  12. The affordable housing crowd should really start to think about how to make affordable housing affordable, because at over 400K per unit we can't really afford any more.

    Here's the challenge, figure out how to build housing so it can be sold at affordable prices. AFAIK, nobody has even attempted to solve that problem. I'd be really interested to see if someone could do that rather than just blame me(and the finance industry I work for).

  13. The first picture especially doesn't look like a homeless person.

    When a neighbor of mine down the street lost her job, she was eventually evicted from her apartment and waited on the curb with all her possessions in crates and tubs until someone came to get her.

    In Edgewater, I saw another eviction, and the family was loading their possessions onto a bus, going who knows where. If they can't afford their rent, they're not going to be able to afford a U-Haul. Are they just supposed to abandon their stuff?

    In this economy, it's happening more frequently. In the last year, I've seen about half a dozen evictions taking place while out walking. Sometimes, the person's stuff was just sitting there, untended. Did they know they were evicted yet? Were they scrambling for a place to take their stuff?

    Just because a person finds himself on the street with his possessions doesn't mean he's chronically homeless or needs social services. However he may need to rely on city transportation to get to his next destination, because there is no other affordable means of getting there. If the bus or train isn't too crowded, isn't it possible to cut that person some slack?

  14. Raych's school of false assumptions

    First false assumption: you don't want subsidized housing in our neighborhood
    While there is nothing wrong with subsidized housing, there is plenty wrong when any neighborhood has a huge disproportionate of it in their neighborhood. Worse yet, Helen is building more units at around 1/2 million dollars a pop using everyone's tax dollars. Here's a little secret for your renters who think you escape: You don't. Your landlord passes the cost down to you with higher rents.

    Second false assumption: "Send them to another neighborhood!" you say.
    You and I have both known for a very long time that most of the homeless are not from this neighborhood. They came to Uptown from all over the city for the services. Don't play us for stupid. We'll call you on it.

    Third false assumption: you can't really argue that you moved into a pristine community only to see it overtaken by thugs. Quite the contrary.
    Poor planning long ago and poor planning now are both wrong. Concentrating social services so that the homeless congregate here was never a good idea no matter how long ago it occurred. We're now organized to highlight the mess that's being tolerated and promoted by people who falsely believe Uptown should only have low standards because poor people can't amount to anything. Low standards insult everyone.

    Fourth false assumption: What have you done to change the community lately?
    You think we sit around all day and complain? This is by far one of the most active neighborhoods for promoting real change that I've ever lived. If you go to any of the many events listed by UU, you will learn we are doing plenty about it. Better yet, we will be voting in droves.

    Emily, I don't want to leave you out either.
    Fifth false assumption: The affordable housing crowd should really start to think about how to make affordable housing affordable, because at over 400K per unit we can't really afford any more. It's not our responsibility to make affordable housing. One of the reasons why housing is so expensive is because developers are required to give to the local alderman's campaign fund and they also must hire attorneys who must give to the local alderman's campaign fund. If any zoning changes are needed for curb cuts, alley access, etc, then the developer pays for an expeditor whose job is to go through all the red tape to get the needed zoning changes. (Can you guess whether or not they must give to the local alderman's campaign fund yet?) And then there's all the added costs for expensive and outdated building methods that make the unions happy who then must give to their local alderman's campaign fund. So why don't you ask your alderman to do something about cheaper housing other than build 1/2 million dollar subsidized units?

  15. Raych says, "I use to love reading Uptownupdate when I first moved here. Unfortunately, the longer I read this blog the more dismayed I am by the constant complaining and blaming."

    Although I agree with Holy Moley's rebuttal to your comments, I would like to say that I do see your point. I have noticed a particular "hardening" of sentiments on this blog in the last 6-8 months but I disagree that it is because the people here (or in Uptown in general) are conservatives or because they just sit around and complain. I'd like to offer a few possible explanations.

    1) Although this is just a blog, what happens here has A LOT to do with what happens in the real world. They are not separate. I would suspect that there are a lot of people here trying to do things in the real world and are not finding success and then additionally come here to talk about it. Fundraising for lawsuits, seeing unwanted zoning changes made for favored developers and getting little to no traction with their local government can wear a person out and make them snarky and less than generous sounding.

    2) Some of the loudest voices on the blog happen to be, as you say, of the more conservative "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" persuasion. That doesn't mean that everyone here is that way or that they agree with everything that is posted. I think I am going to start railing hard on the posts that say "You all think..." There is no "us all" here. The people who write, post to and read Uptown Update do not share some unilateral position on everything. There is lots of common ground but lots and lots of gray areas. That is, of course, why the discussion can get so good and why people like to read! Personally, I have had lots of interchanges with with folks of the "bootstraps" mindset and I have enjoyed the exchanges. I have been accused of seeing the world with rose colored glasses and I enjoy talking to people with a different perspective in order to reflect upon my own. Its no fun speaking to the choir.

    3) Some of the most conservative voices may be trolls. (I am talking about the names that suddenly appear with zingers on a topic but don't stick around to sustain the conversation with a little bit of give-and-take.) UU had a tremendous trolling problem around the time of the anti-crime rally last summer. Soon thereafter, anonymous comments were no longer allowed and after that comment moderation was enabled. IMHO, comment moderation has slowed things down and cooled it off so that some people feel less compelled to comment. The threads used to be almost like twittering when posts were automatic. There were a few threads about a year ago that got about 100 comments in a little over an hour. I am sure it was a headache for UU to do that real time monitoring, but I wouldn't say that there is no trolling going on now. It seems to me that readers have gotten a little more experienced, or jaded, and 1) know who the personalities are 2) know what they usually say and 3) know not to "feed the trolls." Need proof? I once said that I loved Helen Shiller in a thread. No comments. How does that happen if we are all of the same mindset?

    "Must - destroy - Helen Shiller- must - destroy - affordable housing - must - build - more - condos!!!!!"

    Candice shrugs off taggers and passionately defends street art in every thread related to the topic. Fewer and fewer people are going ape-shit at her comments each time they come up. Why? Cause that is just what Candice thinks and she is pretty firm in her convictions. Reasonable people can agree to disagree. One will continue hoping that the world will loosen up and fry the bigger fish and the other will call the city to get the tags removed. Of course both of those perspectives would be here in a neighborhood of this size. God love 'em.

    To be continued. There is now a character limit too! :)

  16. 4) The election is still a long way off and new concerns arise (i.e., the Maryville Property, more money for the WY TIF, the Beacon zoning, the Olympics, cops being taken out of our district and deployed in others). I am sensing that people here feel a little "stalled." They want to hold onto some momentum but feel that real change will require a new election because a few past efforts proved how intractable the powers-that-be are. Maybe people are conserving their energies? Suzanne is right when she says that it is mistake for Uptowners to ever think that all problems will be solved when Helen Shiller is no longer alderman. However, it seems to me that most thinking has coalesced around the need to remove Shiller before much else can happen. I don't think it is true in all quarters of Uptown, but maybe true on Uptown Update.

    5) The housing market and the economy. I wouldn't underestimate this one. In the past, hopeful newcomers had a greater ability to just move when they decided that this neighborhood was not what they bargained for. Sure, you have your longtimers who have sunk their teeth in and fight and are not going anywhere but you also had people who never paid attention and never got that involved. Now, with the housing market, its harder to just move if you don't like what happens here. Add the recent turmoil in the economy---which has affected everyone---and you've got some pretty angry people who may feel powerless not only to enact change but to even protect what they have from things they cannot control. Although some of Helen's supporters like to paint her detractors as "rich" that is hardly the case. I would venture to say that people's property here in Uptown is their greatest single financial asset. People worked hard to get it and don't want to lose it. Too much is at stake if they do.

    Well, I've been needing to get that off my chest for a while now. Sorry, Raych, if it seems that I am piling on. UU is a fascinating and wonderful on-line community for a fascinating and wonderful real-world neighborhood. It doesn't deserve to be treated with a broad brush. There is a lot going on. So, I say, keep reading.

  17. "There is now a character limit too! :)"

    Really? Didn't know that.

  18. Fifth false assumption: The affordable housing crowd should really start to think about how to make affordable housing affordable, because at over 400K per unit we can't really afford any more.

    If its not the responsibility of the affordable housing crowd to figure out how to make affordable housing, well, affordable, then whose problem is it?

    From what I see, the affordable housing crowd is a just a bunch of people demanding that someone else provide them housing as a right. No justification is supplied, only that its someone else's responsibility to provide housing that everyone can afford. Those whose effort and lives need to be sacrificed bear no value to them, they see themselves in almost a divine light. I would argue that God will have a different interpretation upon their meeting.

  19. I'm willing to bet that the "blaming and complaining" would lessen if our alderman were a little more transparent and forthcoming with information. Kicking everyone in the teeth is not going to lead to a harmonious ward.

  20. "Character limit?"

    I'm of limited character.

    Elect me and I'll set you free!

    The title of my campaign biography:

    It Came From Uptown.

    Now in 3-D

  21. WCE, I wonder if Emily refers to "affordable housing" as housing for people who make above the median range of income?

    I admit that this term gets tossed around a lot with a host of meanings though. In the last 3 or 4 years, politicians have made this term synonomous with what was once referred to as subsidized housing. We normal regular types typically mean something else. That's why Helen can so blatantly look you in the eye and call all of WY as affordable housing. She doesn't want the public to know it's really all subsidized.

  22. MotS - Surely you're not saying Uptowners believe "Not in my back yard"?

    Just to clarify, I kinda do mean that. But I maybe should have stressed that I wasn't just talking about Uptown. Yes, I know that Uptown is inundated with social service organizations and as such, lots of people who used those systems extensively have set up shop there. I just was trying to say that given a preference NO ONE would vote to have them set up shop next door to them. Even some of the most compassionate might think such services, etc. would be better elsewhere.

    Sorry if it seemed like I was piling on Uptown people. That wasn't the meaning I was tring to get across.

    Besides the original point of this thread, I thought, was based on the photos of people with all of their possession on the bus or street, asking if there was a better place for them to be. I was just trying to say that if they have no where to live, well, you're going to see them on the buses and street with all of their possessions. Or under a bridge. Or behind a building. Or... The conversation seemed to drift to a whole 'nother area since I wrote that.

  23. Len, of course you bring up a good point about who is going to pay for needed housing. If I had my way, we as a nation would have spent about a trillion dollars less on an unnecessary war in Iraq and put some of that money towards housing and other infrastructure. But I understand people's resistance to spending tax money to providing housing for people they do not beleive are deserving. Nonetheless there are two choices, provide housing for those in need, or deal with seeing them exist as a homeless person in your or someone else's community.

    The issue of social services enabling people is one social service providers themselves struggle with all the time (or at least I do). It is often a fine line between supporting and enabling a person. As a social worker, I and all the agencies I interact with are aware of this and do enforce limits on people who appear to be not interested in making any changes or who are being enabled to continue to make poor choices. A lot of these people are terminated from services and become part of the large group of homeless disconnected from any services who generally loiter 24/7 and look to escape their bleek reality (and no doubt a bleek reality due in large part to their choices) through drug and alcohol abuse. What is to be done with them? Would they then be tolerable if somehow they were evenly distributed throughout all of the city's neighborhoods? Anyone have a plan for doing that? Please include a cost analysis for any plan.

    Also, not funding social service agencies is not a solution. Agencies do not give out 'free money'. The only people collecting cash are those who have proven a disability to Social Security and receive a check. A drug or alcohol abusing homeless person without a disability is not getting free money from anyone. They may receive a link card for food stamps, but that is about it.

    A couple of other points.....I keep seeing people posting that $400,000 are being spent on each unit at WY. Not that I know the true costs of construction, but this appears on the surface to be ridiculous and attempt to exaggerate the 'injustice' some Uptowners feel over the building of housing for those in need at WY. I would guess that $400,000 or more would represent the price that might be put on 2 or 3 unit condo in the WY building if it were put on the open market and not the actual construction costs. Though with so many vacant and unsold condos in Uptown already, that still might be a high price.

    Also Len, while I am sure you have seen people who are abusing the Sect. 8 program by underreporting their income or who also possess some material wealth, you may be relieved to know that I have worked with over 200 section 8 recepients and not one had a car and had very little in material possessions, so maybe those nice car driving, nice clothes wearing ones you've encountered are the exception and not the norm.

    For whatever reason, people who just can't function well enough in society to provide for themselves have been around forever (think of stories of people begging for alms in the Bible) and they always will be. And there will never be a perfect solution for what to do for them that would ever prevent the rest of us from having to witness the type of social dysfunction seen in many of the photos on this web site.

  24. Kevin,
    I think that your incite proves why this blog is important for people to read and comment on in this community. You being a social workers puts you on the front line. I admittedly sit on the side lines and worry mostly about myself and my family. Don't get me wrong, in my business I do help people get new homes, but lets be honest...90% of my clients are moving up.

    I saw one person speak of conservatives who say to just "Pull up your bootstraps". I am one of those conservatives. Everything I have I have worked for. I don't have a college education. I have been evicted from an apartment when I was 20 and had to fend for myself. I have been layed off from 2 jobs during economic downturns. The last after Sept 11. Yet, I have worked my butt off to be where I am at today. I have tried to volunteer at soup lines and churches and have had a hard time because I have hopes that everyone can dig themselves out of a rut. I am blessed that I was not born with any mental illness and i truly believe these services need to be open and available to those who can't help themselves. I just have a hard time watching people dope themselves to death and take handouts.

    Yes, there will always be poor people. There will always be rich. This country needs to figure it out quick though. The only difference between us and third world countries is that our poor are taken better care of. Third world countries do not have the money to help the poor. Those countries are split into two classes, the halves and the halve nots. We are slowly working our way there and the social services are already starting to see the results of that. Once all the social services programs are cut and welfare $ is no longer there... you can picture it.

    As far as Uptown is concerned.. Helen needs to understand that this community cannot take the entire load of this social issue. All these people are being ignored due to the overflow.

    But once again... I point out the problem... I wish I had the solution.

  25. Holey Moley...talk about false assumptions....you appear to be making a false argument when you say it is a false assumption that you (or Uptowners) don't want subsidized housing in our neighborhood, but argue that that is false because ...there is something wrong with having too much subs. houising in one neighborhood (Uptown, right?). I think it is a correct assumption that you do not want subs. housing in our neighborhood but a false assumption that you oppose it altogether so Raych appears correct to me, by your own words.

    Secondly, the homeless do not have a neighborhood. They are homeless, the entire open city is their neighborhood. Are people somehow obligated to never leave the area they were born in? People can't leave one area to seek opportunity in another? What if we applied the same standard to everyone? How many Uptown condo owners came from somewhere else to seek opportunity for themselves here in Chicago? The notion that most homeless don't belong here but you do is ridiculous.

    Another falsehood you are perpetuating is that somehow it was planned for the number of social services to be located in Uptown. There was no plan, purpose, or intent to concentrate services in Uptown. It just happened. And it was based on need. REST shelter was created by Uptown residents themselves (actual property owners did this! though not condo owners as there weren't too many before Shiller came along) in response a homeless person freezing to death in the hood (could never imagine that happenning today) and because there was also a large enough homeless presence to warrant it besides the guy that froze to death. And this homeless presence existed when there were hardly any social service agencies in Uptown. Other agencies came here because Uptown was where the homeless and the need for services were and to a lesser extent for the same reasons condo owners have come here, because property was cheaper than other hoods. And no one is promoting the idea that Uptown should only have low standards, that is just bunk.

    Another thing about the costs to tax payers in providing housing to the homeless....a study by the University of Pennsylvania has shown that it costs LESS in public dollars to maintain a mentally ill person in housing than to allow them to remain homeless. So support subsidized housing because it will save you money.

  26. So Kevin,

    What is so difficult to understand that you can except the concept of subsidized housing and even except that you will take some into your neighborhood, but you can also feel there is a tipping point where a certain area has had its share.

    I know as a social worker it must be nice to have all social services centered near your home. It makes for a nice commute and you have a better quality of life. But you really believe that it can't be more evenly distributed? And those that believe it can be, are lumped into the same that say NIMBY at every opportunity. If most of the people truly believed that here, this would be the Naperville Update.

    FYI, alot of the "too saturated" talk originated when WY was investigated. Turns out HUD said they would no longer build more here as the area passes its own saturation criteria - those damned right wing wackos.

  27. Kevin you said..
    "A couple of other points.....I keep seeing people posting that $400,000 are being spent on each unit at WY. Not that I know the true costs of construction, but this appears on the surface to be ridiculous and attempt to exaggerate the 'injustice' some Uptowners feel over the building of housing for those in need at WY"
    You’re correct on one thing this is "ridiculous" but unfortunately it’s correct. I have the budget (which you can FOIA from the Dept. of Planning) for the low-income family building and it’s over $35 million. There are about 77 units in the plan and this works out to be over $450 thousand a unit. You also have to remember that the CTA sold the land to Holsten for pennies on the dollar. As always the developers are making big profits and the CTA, the schools and the taxpayers are the losers.

  28. Actually Dale, I agree with you as far as spreading out the subsidized housing. It makes the most sense to me as well. But there are certain dynamics going on that make this difficult due to the nature of housing subsidies, current housing availability, and the real estate market. And none of it, by the way, is Helen Shiller's fault.

    There are a lot of different types of or ways that subsidized housing works. One common way is exemplified by the shelter plus care program that a lot of agencies receive funding for. Under that program a client receives subsidized housing where they are required to pay 30% of their income towards the rent and then must accept and participate in services (e.g., meet with a case manager at least once a week and participate in day programming). Now the agencies that receive this grant are permitted to rent apartments for this program and their clients anywhere on the open market, but they are limited by how much money is provided by the government to rent each apt. The amount provided varies some from grant to grant, but generally the agencies have about $500 to $550 to spend for a monthly rent. Obviously this limits where clients can be housed. Uptown has a lot of SRO buildings and other cheap apartment buildings that offer rents within that range (there are also some in Rogers Park, Wrigleyville, Lincoln Park, and the Gold Coast, but not nearly as much and frankly a lot more of them are needed to fill the need everywhere). SRO stands for single room occupancy, so it is just one small room, usually with a shared bathroom and usually without any cooking facilities. There are also several buildings with studio apts. or efficiencies within Uptown that fall within this price range as well. And agencies work out agreements with the buildings to rent a handful of their units for this subsidized housing program, so on any given floor there may be a few subsidized units with the rest being rented by people at the market rate of $500 a month or so. If agencies could find more buildings renting units within the price range mentioned outside Uptown, they certainly would try to use them. By the way, the South and West sides of the city also have a lot of these housing subsidies as well.

    Another type of subsidized housing would be a CHA building, where the entire building is controlled by the CHA and everyone is in a subsidized unit. And obviously the CHA put these buildings in the areas where property was the most inexpensive, so we have a few of those in Uptown, which for decades, through no fault of Helen Shiller, was a very improverished community.

    Another point to make is that with the Shelter plus Care type of housing subsidy, if the subsidy did not exist, it would not change the character of the building or neighborhood much at all. Let me explain. The average person with a disability on SSI receives $673 a month to live on. Many of them pay the full market rate to rent a SRO or efficiency unit right next to another unit that houses a person involved with a program and receiving this subsidy who pays about $200 a month. If the subsidy did not exist, the person would have to pay the full amount of $500 or so (out of their $673 a month) and then likely spend more time pan handling to have more money to spend on living expenses. It is not like a lot of the subsidized housing is bringing in an undesirable element into Uptown. These units that are being subsidized would not be desired by any, say, college grad looking to settle in Uptown while working in Chicago. They would be filled with people already occupying the lowest rungs of society. So you see, a lot of the subsidized housing in Uptown does not bring in any additional low income peoples, it just provides additional support for those already here.

  29. Uptown lady, Well that sucks and I am very alarmed to hear that. I have a hard time conceiving how that could be. While I support the construction of new affordable and subsidized housing (as most of what currently exists is 3rd world)I would also support a complete investigation on how money is being used in this project. Tax payers have rights too.

  30. Uptown does have a disproportionate amount of homelessness and I agree with others, there are a multitude of reasons. Just about any social worker in any major hospital faced with a tough discharge of a patient with no place to live is very familiar with Uptown and it’s widely known as the place to send them. (I did discharge planning for years at St. Joseph Hospital and Northwestern Memorial and it was widely practiced from those 2 hospitals.)

    It was once common practice for the Dept. of Corrections to release their prisoners at a number of different shelters in Uptown and it was the reason why at one time we had such a high number of child sex offenders living in Uptown. I’ve witnessed it myself and the DHS Commissioner once confirmed this practice to me. UCC worked very hard to have this practice stopped and I understand the Commissioner was instrumental with following through with that request.

    It’s frequently asked if the social services came here because of the need or did those in need come to Uptown because of the services… the old chicken and the egg question, I guess. I would imagine a little of both with more of it being people in need of services coming here. It would be good to hear from an unbiased source. However, judging from my experience as a social worker, I would tend to believe the social services draw in those with special needs.

    For those of us who have worked with the homeless experiencing addictions, the compassionate approach is to let them experience the repercussions of their addiction so that they will be motivated to get help. A good addiction counselor friend of mine taught me that over 20 years ago, and it follows what I was later taught in social work graduate school. I always remain compassionate in my approach, but if I take away their pain with enabling behavior on my part, they put off getting treatment. Our family went through this with one of my nephews. He didn’t face homelessness because his mom would always take him in and care for him. For him, it took having a head on collision and seriously injuring someone …. and spending some time in jail for him to finally get help.

    It’s true that Ald. Shiller is not responsible for most of the subsidized housing in this area, although I can say that she and I have serious disagreement about the use of best practices to address this issue. I also could write a book on the roadblocks the Uptown Chicago Commission faced to make CHA housing safer in Uptown… but that’s a whole other thread.

  31. While homelessness and poverty is certainly a worthwhile discussion, the problem in this scenario is ANYONE, regardless of economic standing, bringing that much stuff on the train or bus. Especially the bus. I rely on the bus to get to work every day, and any haul like that sets the bus back at least 20 minutes. There's no way anyone is getting to work on time in that situation. And just imagine if a person in a wheelchair needs to board. The thing people need to understand is that public transportation is for better or worse a shared experience, and when you take more than your share, you make it worse for everyone. I just saw an incident where a woman tried to bring shopping bags on the bus in the same volume pictured, and the busdriver told her plain and simple that he couldn't allow her to bring that much on the bus. She threw a fit, threatened him repeatedly, and wedged herself and a shopping cart in the entrance so the bus couldn't move. After 5 minutes of her unrelenting threats and refusal to move, he called the cops. It was the right thing to do.

  32. Violet, I understand your frustration and have experienced it myself. I think I'll look into whether the CTA even has any rules or guidelines regarding this issue. Obviously there are people who rely on the CTA to do their grocery shopping and have a legitimate need to bring several grocery bags with them, though that is not what is going on in the picture here.

    Some insights into people like the person in this picture. I have worked with homeless people who seemingly unnecessarily burden themselves with several bags, boxes, or carts which they carry with them everywhere they go - interestingly they are mostly women. They literally have to shuttle their stuff every where they go...you know, carry foward a few bags, set them down, go back for a few more, carry them foward and set them with the rest, go back for more and so on. And when I have been able to see what is in the bags, a lot of it appears to be stuff they should just throw away....stuff like every piece of mail they recieve or informational fliers or brouchures they pick up or old newspapers, books, and magazines, as well as important things like clothes, toiletries, and food.

    Hoarding like this is an interesting and not uncommon phenomenon among the housed and well off and homeless alike (though with the housed, the general public does not have to deal with it). It tends to get worse as people age and has been associated with experiencing a stressful life event, particularly some type of loss and with people who are socially isolated. People who are homeless have usually experienced the stressful life event of losing their home, possessions, and way of life and may cling to what they do have to maintain a sense of having something. They also tend to be socially isolated with little social support and derive some comfort from what they possess. Most of us derive some sense of self through what we possess, the homeless are no different. I have dealt with homeless people on disability who spend a good amount of their monthly check on a storage unit, holding on to possessions from their pre-homeless life that they will likely never be able to use again or move with them to the type of housing they now are financially limited to. They just have a hard time letting go and accepting their loss. One guy I know had bought all new appliances - fridge, dishwasher, washer, dryer, range oven, for a house he had before he suffered a breakdown and became disabled. He now receives about $800 a month in disabililty and is paying a good chunk of that to store those things in the hopes that he can take them with him to a new home. He has been doing this and living on the streets and shelters for about 10 years now and it is not likely that on his income he will be able to find a place where he could move all that stuff in with him - I have found housing for him more than once that he has turned down because he could not bring his appliances with him. The guy has a mental illness that obviously comprimises his judgement and ability to cope with his loss. Bottom line, we are trying with the people out there like this person on the bus, but it ain't easy.

  33. "Suspicious of what? Do you mean of stealing the stuff in his cart? Just wanted to clarify."

    Of course. But you knew that. You just wanted to give me a hard time for assuming the worst.

    The police should have at least checked this out. Window unit air conditioners are often stolen, and present an easy way to break into a residence.

  34. There is also a bunch of belonging on the southeast corner of Clark and Lawrence that has been there for at least two days.

  35. "When a neighbor of mine down the street lost her job, she was eventually evicted from her apartment and waited on the curb with all her possessions in crates and tubs until someone came to get her."

    Sorry, Watchdog, too much fan-wanking. The lady is NOT just recently evicted and waiting for a ride for her and her belongings. Readers have been telling us in email about sightings all over Uptown for the past few weeks, at bus stops, with all her belongings. Her apparent MO is to scream obscenities at the bus drivers for not letting her bring the contents of a studio apartment on the buses with her.

    If you hurry, you can see her out at the corner of Lawrence and Clark, at a bus stop, with everything in the photo we ran.

    The point of the post, which seems to be lost, is that the CTA is not responsible for housing the homeless and their belongings. It's for transportation, not daily domicile.

    My personal opinion is that if someone refuses the help of social services, for whatever reason, the CTA and the public parks aren't there for the purpose of giving them a place to live.

  36. "Suspicious of what? Do you mean of stealing the stuff in his cart? Just wanted to clarify."

    Of course. But you knew that. You just wanted to give me a hard time for assuming the worst.

    Speaking of assuming...

    I wanted to clarify if you were talking about him being suspicious of stealing the stuff IN the cart or just stealing the cart.