Saturday, July 18, 2009

Home Is Where The Heart Is...

...or the inflatable mattress, nightstand and fresh flowers. As seen in the Lawrence Avenue viaduct. (reader submitted photo)


  1. I think that is such a sad yet sweet photo. Someone trying to make the most of what they have, or should I say what they don't have. I hope someday they will have a place to call home.

  2. What's the point, UU? I don't think you can go a week without holding up some homeless person to your ridicule or amusement. The flowers strike me as someone who's trying to maintain a little dignity.

  3. It's all perception, I guess, like a Rorschach test. I don't see ridicule or amusement, Watchdog, and the caption doesn't reflect that. Dan (post above) sees sad and sweet. As for me, I see someone bringing a little hope and a little gentility into a bad situation.

  4. I didn't see any ridicule or amusement in the UU post. Maybe you are just a tad on the defensive Watchdog?

    I agree that it is all perception. UU reports on the goings on in Uptown. Does this not qualify? Are they not to report on the hardships of others even if you find it insensitive? Maybe this photo will shine a light on to this persons plight and someone will bring him/her lunch? A few dollars? Set of sheets?

  5. Or perhaps its a sign that the owners of the Maryville property are doing a poor job of preventing it from turning into a Hooverville.

  6. Watchdog (or is it Helen Shiller?)- there is no ridicule going on here, you are just way to sensitive. Do you cry at comercials with puppies in them? Get depressed when it rains?

    Whoever it is that has made this place their home is probable one that would definitely benefit from the many social services that are available for the homeless here in Uptown. So as has been discussed in previous posting on UU, if Ald. Shiller did regular sweeps of Uptown and presented the homeless with the appropriate social services this would benefit them better than turning a blind eye to them.

    If we in Uptown put our hands over our eyes and ignore the homeless situation we will one day look and see that Uptown has turned into a urine soaked, lawless, shantyville dump with no hope of recovery (victory for Helen Shiller).

  7. While I don't understand the "defensive" accusation I probably am too "sensitive". But I really don't think you're doing the poor any favors by blogging a photo of someone's bed. Everyone deserves a little dignity and a little privacy. I'd hate to have my yard or back deck blogged about, even if it is visible to anyone who walks down the alley, and read peoples commentaries about it. I have the same problem with Google streetviews, which allows you to zoom in on our building, and see the people inside. Fuzzy, but they're there.

    Nor is this a terribly insightful commentary on the homeless situation in Uptown, "reporting on the hardships" of citizens.

    If UU really means to help the homeless in the hood, I imagine we would see a few links to responsible charities that residents can volunteer at or donate to. The only donation button I see is for FWY. The blog roll/Web site list could benefit from a list of soup kitchens and other resources, so when someone does encounter a person on the street, they might truly be able to help.

    Can someone more familiar with the issue recommend the better organizations in Uptown?

  8. Watchdog, I don't think the homeless need to log on to the Internet to find help. Uptown is CRAWLING with help. There's a higher concentration of social services in this one neighborhood than in any other area in the entire United States.

    Funny, but when I think of the park and the Lawrence underpass, I don't see it as someone's personal bedroom. Dude, it's public property. It belongs to the families having picnics and to the cyclists and to the joggers. Sleeping there is ... against... the... law. That's why I didn't build my house there (hey, love the view!) If it's open for folks to sleep in, I'll just start plotting out my floor plan now and book the construction guys to build me a gorgeous place.

    There's absolutely no expectation of privacy for someone who chooses to live in (here's that phrase again) public property.

    As far as UU running social service information... do you think these people walk into the library and log onto Uptown Update when they want to change their lives for the better? Nope, I'm betting one of the many, many, many social services agencies in this city would be their first choice.

    You're just projecting, my friend. Don't like UU showing snapshots of life in Uptown? Think the downtrodden begin their journey out of homelessness by reading a blog? Easy solution: Start your own blog and provide a social services directory. Seriously. UU may even link to it. Be proactive, don't whine about someone else's vision because it doesn't match your own.

  9. Nice...I get accused of being Helen and told to start my own blog all in the same day. Standard responses around here.

    I'm not sure at what point, TSN, I suggested the homeless should read the blog to hook up with social services, or that their journey out of homelessness starts here. At what point did I say they should log into the library computer? But now that you mention it, sure, I've seen homeless people at the library using the computer.

    If you took the time to read my post, "my friend", I believe you'd find that what I said is that it might be useful for UU to include a list of links on the blog, so when someone does encounter a person on the street, they might truly be able to help them if they really wanted to. What I said was we could use a few links to responsible charities that residents can volunteer at or donate to if they had the time, money, or inclination.

    There's tons of commentary here about all the social services "these people" can go to in Uptown, but where, among the dozens of services, would you or anyone recommend they go? Which ones deserve support? Which don't? UU has been preaching this for two or three years, the people behind it must have some opinion by now, since they're eager to clean the streets.

    I'll ask the general readers of UU again, since my point was badly twisted and I was called a whiner. And because I honestly don't know. What social services in Uptown are considered the best? Which ones have you had positive experiences with? If someone comes across a homeless person living under the viaduct, which group should be contacted?

  10. We would refer you, and anyone else who's interested, to the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness (, particularly the "Service Providers Commission" and the "Get Involved" sections. They have far more knowledge and expertise than mere neighborhood bloggers.

    Despite your claim that all we want is to "clean the streets" -- that's your chilling phrase, not ours -- we hope, like decent people everywhere, that those who are chronically homeless find help and a supportive environment so that they can confront and solve the reasons they became homeless in the first place.

    If you do decide to start a blog for the discussion of Uptown's homelessness services, we'd be more than happy to link to it.

  11. Watchdog, your comments are odd. First, you see that picture as "holding up some homeless person to your ridicule or amusement." I agree with TygerKub. That picture is very much like a Rorschach test. Sure, lots of people on this blog want it to stop being ok for the resistant homeless to use the streets as they do. But, its more of a "why-don't-the-rules-applied- on-Michigan-Avenue-or-South- Indiana-or-Dearborn-Street-apply- here?" kind of disapproval at the alderman and the city and certain nonprofits rather than against all people who are homeless and, oftentimes, mentally ill.

    Judging from the people who posted their reactions, it seems that the overall response to this photo was that it caused reflection...that someone could be so down on their luck yet still find a place for beauty and order in their life. To me, anyway, it seemed wonderful and sad at the same time, much like my own (very different) life sometimes. I'd assume that the person who took the photo had similar feelings, which is why they took the time to capture the image. Sometimes you see things that take your breath away and unexpectedly change your "internal monologue" for the day.

    One of the things that originally drew me to this blog were the "man on the street" photographs...images that you could have only obtained by walking a neighborhood that you knew well. Many of them have been like art---not necessarily in the aesthetic sense---but in the way that they provoked a mixture of sentiments. I am thankful that someone took the picture and sent it in to be shared. I am sorry that it is of someone's "home" or of a place that someone might have wanted to be a private place. However, that is kind of the point. It cannot and never will be the private place they may have been yearning for. That's remarkable (literally).

    As for your subsequent comments, I think it explains a lot that your Rorschach reveals that you didn't trust everyone to react to this picture with sufficient respect. Maybe its because you don't live here and thus don't know the neighborhood well? You say, "Can someone more familiar with the issue recommend the better organizations in Uptown?" Anyone who lives here knows that this person's "home" is within sight of an emergency shelter for women and children. This person's "home" is 1/2 a block away from REST, the largest shelter in Uptown. Someone who lives here already knows that those two places are fine places to suggest someone to go but the Salvation Army shelter has a waiting list and you just can't show up one day and expect to get in. That REST location is for men and the one for women is one street over on Wilson/Sheridan. Uptowners also know that in the summer months people who might have been at REST during the winter months then decide to sleep outside in the park because it gives them more freedom but still keeps them near some of the services and people that they know.

    So, what do you do when: the need across the city is overwhelming: the many services your own neighborhood has provided appear to not be enough; some people will resist what is offered anyway but then basic standards for behavior in public are not enforced here as they are elsewhere; AND THEN if anyone in this neighborhood dare say "we can't handle it all here" the ultra-radical left + the NIMBY city council/mayor + the major media will get it all wrong and start zeroing in on the elitist/classist/racist/haters who all inexplicably flock to Uptown to buy homes? And, if that isn't bad enough some of those same people might also pull you aside and quietly say, "well, why do you even live there anyway? Uptown is a dump filled with human trash and its always been that way. What did you expect?"

    Uptowners who read this blog don't need help identifying where the services are or where they could go to donate time or money. They need help with that other problem.

  12. This topic has come up other times before, as UU posts such photos somewhat often. While UU has said in the past it has no bad intent when it post these pictures (hopefully this link to an archived similar discussion works), what always makes me feel a little bit off about posting these types of photos is that they basically become a proxy or representation of what people feel Shiller's failings are.

    Of course, she is fair game, and it is absolutely fair that she be criticized, but after awhile, it feels like you lose sight of what these photos are supposed to represent, and they began to feel exploitative. Sassy suggests these photos cause "reflection" but I rarely see much reflection from the commenters about anything other than how Shiller fails Uptown and how these scenarios are a symbol of such. So maybe there is "sensitivity" in questioning the need for yet another such photo because those who have read this blog for awhile do observe how commenters typically use these postings as an opportunity to rail against Shiller, and our "many, many" service agencies. Anyone who dares to question UU's use of these images (or perhaps the motives of the persons who take and send in some of these photos) gets a pile on of accusations that they support Shiller or aren't familiar with Uptown (i.e., some carpetbagger) or just some silly bleeding heart liberal.

    However, UU is showing itself to be a somewhat influential and widely read local news source--good for it--but with that comes people questioning some of your editorial choices. You don't have to change them, by any means, but if say, Sun Times, constantly posted photos of homeless people to say, see look how our city officials ignore this city-wide problem, they too would have to balance the desire to report and illuminate with the potential unintended effect of exploitation and ridicule. I think that's where UU finds itself sometimes in posting these shots of homeless people in Uptown--at what point does it potentially cross that line?

    In any event, I will take UU's word that it has no bad intent, but you commenters can't control how people respond to the proliferation of the posting of such photos. At what point did you determine that the best thing to do was to quash or belittle the voices of those who don't fall completely in line with your points? Seems to me you might be becoming a little bit of the thing you claim to hate.

  13. I think those are fair points, legaltease. I'd be interested to read what UU thinks about the unintended consequences of things that they post. Certainly professional journalists have come to take such concerns seriously and it makes sense that bloggers who unexpectedly find themselves influential would have to confront those issues too.

    One little bit of clarification on my previous post: I argued that this picture caused reflection. I argued this based on how I reacted, what Dan and TygerKub posted and what I assumed about why the photographer took the picture. When I spoke of "man on the street" photos, I was speaking more broadly about UU photos which include architecture shots and nature shots. Personally, I don't like photographs where you can see someone's face unless it is pretty clear that the person is acknowledging that they are having their picture taken. I agree that exploitation should be avoided at all costs and I don't have any specific suggestions about how to avoid it. This picture, however, does not have a person in it so is less worrysome to me and, at least for me, is what provoked more reflection about things in the abstract.

  14. I took the pic because I thought it appropriately encapsulated the dramatic silliness of what passes for acceptable in this ward.

    Between "ignoring" the homeless and "letting them be"... there's a huge gap which this person filled with an inflatable mattress.

    If we ignore the homeless, nothing gets done.

    If we let them be, nothing gets done.

    Looks to me like the only person who did anything here got him/herself a more comfortable sleeping arrangement.

  15. Yo and Sassy said it so much better, but the very idea that posting such a photo was either dubious or exploitive is downright silly.
    This IS visual documentation of life in Uptown.

    The person who created this 'nest' under the bridge either is crying for help, or is mentally incapable of bettering his/her situation. Methadone? Fish farm?
    What good is a murky, endless list of social services, if the Ward fails to direct such people towards?

    What do we have? An ominous 'Emerald City' rising 7 stories above Montrose and Broadway with NO clearly defined goal (or 100% of the facts).

    'Watchdog' , all this considered, I agree with your comment.....'what's the point?'

  16. Watchdog....I kinda understand where you are coming from as entries with pictures such as this often do elicit a lot of very snarky and spiteful commentary by UU posters...but that is their interpretation of the Rorschach test as others have pointed out.

    A few points...a lot of people make frequent mention of a plethora of social services in Uptown. I would point out that most of them do not target the homeless. Uptown is home to a lot of different ethnic groups and there are a lot of aid agencies here that exist to assist just those groups, not the homeless.

    Another point is that services to the homeless and mentally ill have been cut all over the city (not Shillers fault). My agency serves a lot of homeless and mentally ill here in Uptown and elsewhere and we have laid a lot of people off, shut down some services, and are being forced to move some people from their current housing back onto the streets due to lost funding (not Shiller's fault). As far as taking on new clients? Forget about it. Now more than ever, homeless people in need have nowhere to go (not Shiller's fault).

    We have more homeless people than we have shelter beds for (not Shiller's fault). Someone answer me this. Where is the overflow supposed to go? You all do realize people need to sleep, right? How can we avoid people sleeping in the public way when there is nowhere else for them to go?

    I have been taking mentally ill homeless off the streets and getting them into housing for some years now and I have never felt more helpless. I have nothing to offer them. Last week we engaged with a woman living under a bridge further downtown. This lady was clearly mentally ill and told us that she was tired of living outside, was scared of some shelters that were suggested to her and tried but could not get into other shelters that she knew of but wasn't scard of and was interested in housing. Five years ago we could have got her into an appropriate supportive housing program in a relatively short period of time. Now, forget about it, even the waiting lists are closed. We'll keep meeting with her and keepinig her engaged while waiting for something to open up. The point I want to make for people who really don't know is that it ain't that easy. It is not like, whiz bang, connect a homeless person to a social service agency and problem solved. Dream on folks.

  17. Random questions/observations:

    Uptown is home to a lot of different ethnic groups and there are a lot of aid agencies here that exist to assist just those groups, not the homeless.

    Why split resources based on ethnicity? If America is a true melting pot - and if peace via diversity is a goal, this type of thing is not only unnecessary, it may very well be wasteful via redundancy.

    Another point is that services to the homeless and mentally ill have been cut all over the city (not Shillers fault).

    Not directly Shiller's fault, but (broken record here) with the human issues being as severe as they are, you'd think Shiller (and her Council mates) might look toward Daley's $1B TIF stash and see about opening that stuff up.

    Is it actually necessary to increase the budget for the WYTIF to buy parking for businesses/fish farms and the like while the general revenue fund has dried up?

    Regardless of how the FWY suit pans out, the TIF should be closed out and that money returned to the city's general revenue.

    People are living on the streets and probably dieing while Council and the Mayor continue to skim $$ for their pet projects.

    Additionally, we've got people who've nowhere to go, but full steam ahead on publicly funding the Olympics. Right?

    The homeless can survive a few more years of Chicago weather and crime while the city preps everything for the needy, once the athletes have left, can't they?

    According to the powers that be in this city, yes they can.

    Beyond that - State funding is drying up, but I see that State Sen. Rickey Hedon is working hard to raise more funds (already committed $500K in state money) for a Softball Hall of Fame.

    So, no. Shiller is not directly responsible for the plight of the homeless; but, is she putting the walk with the talk with regards to doing what is right with regards to one of her platform cornerstones?

    Is she doing everything little thing that she can to help the homeless who dot her ward, or is she helping out her friends and family?

    Does she stand up to the waste and corruption that bleeds money from the city, or does she bed down with the recipients of the waste and corruption?

    $10M to Truman for a parking garage/admin building ...

    How many people could have been assisted with that money?

    Between Truman and the WYTIF amendment, I see Shiller putting more effort into making sure people have places to park their cars, moreso than making sure people have a place to sleep.

    Read that again - tens of millions of dollars being spent to ensure the convenience and property of people who don't live in this ward over the abject need of those living under bridges.

    Remember, the FWY lawsuit is based on the FACT that tax dollars weren't needed to develop that land, and residents here would be happy with the originally promised mixed-income model.

    On top of all of that, I've heard horror stories regarding some of the social service places around here. No wonder folks would rather sleep in the park.

    What's being done to ensure that questionable social service agencies are doing their job properly?

    Form what I've been able to surmise, Shiller's all buddy/buddy with the social service folks in her ward, as she should be - but what is she doing to hold her supporters accountable?


    At all?

    No. Shiller is not directly responsible for every little ill in this ward; but, when you hold her record up to the light, you will be greeted by the obviousness of the rift between her rhetoric and her actions.

    Can she solve all of the ward's ill?

    Obviously not. No one can.

    And I don't mean to demonize the woman as much as reveal the very real and painful shortcomings in how she conducts the business of the ward, as well as the hypocrisy which fatigues many of us.

    But, if she were to spend as much time being creative and forthright with her strategy towards the plight of the needy as she is with her politics and creative book keeping, who knows what kind of good she could do?

  18. yo...what resources are you talking about when you ask 'why split resources based on ethnicity'?

    That is a very confusing question and my first impression is that it shows a lack of understanding about how social service agencies are funded or created.

    It is not like there is some master controller that decides to split of all the resources that social service agencies use. Not all social service agencies use public funds.

    How does it make sense for, say, someone volunteering their time with the Chinese Mutual Aid Society providing interpreting services to be expected to counsel substance using homeless people? Also, a lot of the ethnic social service agencies are privately funded.

    The different social services exist due to there being a very diverse array of needs, especially with immigrant groups. It works better when they are connected with providers who are from their own cultural group and speak their language.

    Also, are you saying that you'd like Shiller to press for additional city funding to create more homeless services in the 46th from Daley's 1 billion TIF fund? Maybe another shelter?

    Also, the funding losses have mainly been on the state level, at least the ones experiences at my agency. I am highly doubtful that it would be doable for the city to suddenly step in and take over the lost funding.

    And isn't Shiller walking the talk by pushing for low income housing at the WY (even though her methods deserve questioning)? I can envision placing a lot of current homeless people there. I hope we can count on your support for this needed project ;).

    I will tell you about one positive thing the city has done. With some of the Obama stimulus dollars, the city is putting some money towards about 200 units of housing for chronically homeless adults with some type chronic medical condition. The housing will be spread throughout the city - north, west, and south sides. It is nice, but kinda like using a paper towel to try and stop a flood.

    As far as what is being done to ensure that social service providers are doing their jobs? Well it depends on who funds the services. Federal, state, and city auditors audit programs that receive public funds. They read clients files, examine outcomes, interview clients and staff. If an agency receives a public or private grant, there are agreed upon expectations for performance referred to generally as outcomes. To continue receiving the funding, providers need to meet the outcomes. Fail to meet the outcomes and the funding can be taken away.

    But hey Yo, if you can make providing for homeless the top priority for city dollars, I, and I am sure everyone else posting here, would support you all the way.

  19. "And isn't Shiller walking the talk by pushing for low income housing at the WY (even though her methods deserve questioning)? I can envision placing a lot of current homeless people there. I hope we can count on your support for this needed project ;)"

    Kevin - I recall you saying you work in social services - and yet you statement above supports concentrating more homeless people within one area in housing that costs taxpayers upwards of $400K a unit?!?!? HUD doesn't even support that. I hope that was sarcasm....

  20. Kevin,

    My overall point is that there are serious problems with regards to the issue of homelessness which shouldn't exist.

    The politicization of the issue is disgusting.

    Ignoring the common good is unseemly.

    The disorganization of social services isn't right.

    The apathy from the general public is disconcerting.

    Wilson Yard's no-low income housing model is NOT needed in this area, it's destructive.

    When nearly every building over 5 stories tall is stacked subsidized housing, another one isn't going to do anyone any good.

    You and I will not meet eye to eye on the best route to take or of the composition of the current situations, and that's fine.

    But, the fact remains, whatever we're doing isn't comprehensive enough - despite the balloon juice our elected folks tell us.

  21. miss kitty...that was sarcasm. But if WY is completed and offers subsidized housing units that I can move homeless individuals and families into, you better believe I will.

    It was just strange as Shiller is usually blasted for 'turning Uptown into a Northern ghetto', or allowing too many social services in the ward, or supporting housing for those in need, and here she was blasted for not doing enough to help the homeless. Hey I can get behind that if that is what Yo believes, more resources for the homeless in the 46th!!!!

  22. I said more resources, in general.

    I did NOT say more resources within the 46th.

  23. Well Kevin, good luck that. I think most of those WY units are set aside for those already in public housing, as noted by a letter signed by Holsten giving them first dibs (so he could get more low income housing tax credits). By the way, most of those new residents probably won't be current Uptown residents.

    Nothing like stockpiling the poor in one area. That's a real smart idea.

  24. yo...are you just talking out of your...?

    How is the issue of homelessness politicized exactly?

    Who is ignoring the common good? Seems the issue here is disagreeing as to what is the common good. I would bet Shiller sees WY as advancing the common good, for example, while you do not.

    How are social services disorganized? It doesn't seem to me that you know enough about them to judge, but please tell us and be specific.

    Apathy from the general public? Well certainly not Uptown's general public. Maybe part of the general public that never sees homeless people, but I am not seeing apathy on UU for instance.

    I guess my general point is that I do not think you know what you are talking about regarding the homeless issue other than vague generalities that don't hold water.

  25. Miss Kitty....your comment about the poor being stockpiled in one area is kinda a common theme here on UU and it reflects a belief I feel a need to disabuse.

    When just looking at the North side of Chicago, it can seem like poverty is especially concentrated in Uptown, and I would have to agree that it is. But compared to the entire West side and South side of Chicago, it is not. But I realize to many Uptowners, the West and South sides don't factor into their thinking, Chicago being as segregated as it is.

    Believe me, Uptown looks like Beverly Hills compared to Englewood, Lawndale, Garfield, Chatham, Roseland, and the Austin neighborhoods to name a few. Try living in those neighborhoods for awhile.

  26. I think the term stockpiling is more than appropriate when the area of WY is topping 40% poverty and even HUD turned its back on funding WY.

    But you're right Kevin, since its worse elsewhere in the city, let's just keep the standards low here in Uptown too.

  27. Who is trying to keep the standards low? What do you mean by that? Do you mean that by not trying to drive more and more of those living in poverty out of Uptown and into the communities on the South and West sides of Chicago 'we' are keeping Uptowns standards low? The communities I mentioned are more than double Uptown's 40% poverty rate. Further segregation might make the world a prettier place for Uptowners, but it will only add to the misery on the non-white sides of the city.

    Think about it, by supporting WY, you can help reduce the burden on communities much, much, much worse off than Uptown. (a little sarcasm here, a lot of truth.)

  28. Sorry Kevin - meant 24% (not 40%) of the WY area is below the poverty level - so let's add to it!

  29. Kevin, you getting any work done today in your busy, busy quest as social worker, or are you spending the whole day like Don Quixote, waving your sword at windmills and edumacating the ignorant who are paying for this whole social services quagmire?

  30. Kevin - I'm surprised that you included Chatham in your litany of dysfunctional neighborhoods. From what I've heard over the years, Chatham is one of the "better" neighborhoods of the South Side and in fact compares favorably with several North Side enclaves.

  31. Actually Kitty, I am sorry. My earlier post from 3:11 was not meant as an endorsement of WY. And if you can see where there was an endorsement of WY in there, please identify it for me. That post was just to add some perspective as at times I feel some Uptowners whine a bit too much about how bad they have it or that all the poor are being concentrated in Uptown. That is absolutely laughable when you look at the entire city, but if you look at just where the white people live, then that is a different story.

  32. TSN, the latter.

    Gayle, it is better than say Englewood across the Dan Ryan and maybe comparable to Uptown, but I don't think I'd compare it to any other North side neighborhoods.

  33. Kevin,

    You're dancing along too many lines of perspective.

    All social services are part and parcel of partisan discussions.

    The way to electoral victory in any urban environment is to tell the poor what they want to hear.

    Beyond that, during this budget fiasco with the State, social services are used as the political whipping boy to stir up support for a higher tax rate to cover the abject waste of tax money that got us into this hole in the first place.

    If you don't see the politicization of social services (to incl. homelessness) you simply aren't paying attention.

    If Helen thinks she is working toward the common good with regard to WY, she's ignoring a lot of contrary advice, as well as a lot of voices in her ward.

    It seems to me that "common good" around here excludes the good of those pesky property owners because .. well, f**k 'em. They should be able to take care of themselves, as well as everyone else.

    Does that sound fair to you?

    Everyone must be included for the common good to be respected.

    Dropping more stacked housing into this ward will positively affect those who get the swank new pads, but it also flips the bird to folks who actually have put their asses on the line in order to own their own home.

    That value of which, of course, is directly tied to the amount of taxes which are culled from those properties. Those taxes go into the city/county/state coffers to fund the programs we're discussing.

    Adversely affect those property values, you lower tax revenue (unless, of course, you don't re-assess and still tax at the higher rate, which is, of course, highly unfair).

    On top of that, if the city keeps skimming money from the general revenue, schools don't get properly funded.

    The best way to defeat homelessness is through education.

    If you don't take care of education (and fish farms DO NOT COUNT), you'll constantly be playing catch up with homelessness.

    As I am wont to say, you can't cure the patient unless you treat the disease, and not just the symptoms.

    Her tactics do little more than cause greater divides within the community - which feeds into the "class warfare" meme she propagates.

    Not good .., unless, of course, one of the goals of filling those towers is partially politically motivated. Then it's good for a few people, with political connections (see initial point).

    As for the disorganization of social services, like I said before, I look around and see a myriad of services with various forms of financing/services offered.

    It would seem that a more cohesive approach would add effectiveness to each dollar received.

    And, no offense to anyone, I've been into several of the city/county/state social offices, and those places are a organizational mess.

    As for the apathy - if you don't see the apathy, or lack of concern for the well being of the homeless, you're blind.

    I think it was you who'd mentioned snarky and spiteful comments regarding the homeless.

    That's apathy.

    I'm no genius on all matters of societal problems, but I can tell ya' that what I've seen happening, and the way those things do happen aren't as effective as they can be, and there are obvious reasons for that.

    As for the South Side .. don't sweat that. If Daley gets the Olympics, he'll wipe those places out - that is, if the folks down there don't wipe themselves out, first.

  34. Kevin, apparently you don't find it a little .. um .. arrogant? condescending? .. to share your opinions over and over again with everyone who disagrees with you, making the assumption that they are WRONG WRONG WRONG for daring to think differently than you do.

    We're not 6, we're adults. Oddly enough, we've managed to take in information and form opinions for all these years without you.

    The Jehovahs Witnesses who go door to door feel the same way as you do. There's their way, or the wrong way, and by God, they're gonna try their damnedest to make sure anyone who answers the door sees the error of their ways. (That's why I don't answer my door to them.)

    May I suggest you spend your hours a little more productively, working in the oveer-burdened Social Services System, instead of evangelically and enthusiastically informing everyone -- repeatedly - how wrong they are to have differing opinions?

    There are people like me, who have lived here for more than 20 years, who have already been "educated" by the situation in the neighborhood, without you. Fancy that.

  35. That post was just to add some perspective as at times I feel some Uptowners whine a bit too much about how bad they have it or that all the poor are being concentrated in Uptown. That is absolutely laughable when you look at the entire city, but if you look at just where the white people live, then that is a different story. Kevin

    uh, Kevin. Can you name another neighborhood with as many homeless shelters? Can you name another that has something like our Grassmere, Wilson Care, St. Margaret Manor, Somerset, Lorili, and Lawrence House along with all the SRO's?

    I don't begrudge helping the homeless. I resent that Uptown has been selected as the neighborhood to be the answer for the homeless throughout the rest of the city and Helen has no problem with flaunting her poor urban planning ideas on the rest of us. Name another planned development that spends almost a half a million dollars per each subsidized unit.

  36. Kevin, I work at an agency that provides health care to the extremely poor in over 50 clinics scattered on the south and west sides of the city so I agree poverty is much more serious elsewhere.

    What makes Uptown a little more unique is that it does have a disproportionate number of people with chronic mental illness in the area, and many of them (not all) experience chronic homelessness. When I was in social work graduate school, I remember one of my readings mentioned that Uptown had the highest concentration of mental illness in the United States. My point is that it's just not helpful for anyone, including those with mental illness, to have such a high concentration in one small area.... (Given my own family's history, I think you already know not to go there about how I feel about people with mental illness.)

    Just as there is no one cause of poverty, there's also no one solution. It's crazy talk if anyone believes one community must bear the prime responsibility for coming up with the needed solutions.

  37. Kevin, don't give up and thank you for your dedication.

  38. Hi, Kevin. I'd like to ask a question about this statement.

    "Do you mean that by not trying to drive more and more of those living in poverty out of Uptown and into the communities on the South and West sides of Chicago 'we' are keeping Uptowns standards low?"

    Do you think that poor people are being "driven" out of Uptown and into dangerous neighborhoods? You've written a lot about people's assumptions---and I would agree that some do exist---but what evidence do you have to back up this one? It seems to be a popular one.

    Market rate rents in Uptown are pretty comparable to elsewhere in the city and have been for some time. In addition, no large subsidized buildings that I can think of have been torn down or have changed over in recent memory. So, are people being driven out or is it more like a trickle? And, is the movement due to changing family sizes, the fact that immigrants are moving more and more to the suburbs for good schools and affordable purchase opportunities and just typical ebb and flow? In other words, do you feel that there is a sentiment of driving poor people out or you really do think that poor people are being driven out?

    I will absolutely grant you that Uptown has seen some major changes in the last 20 years but, unfortunately, it is not an island. What happens elsewhere in the city will affect the market here despite the valiant effort to the contrary that has indeed been evident here. I am very proud that Uptown is known as a place where people value diversity and have fought to keep it. I also credit Helen Shiller's determined focus on affordable housing as being one of the reasons why Uptown can still be a port-of-entry and why we are so economically diverse. We're not Naperville on the lake. Good for us.

    On the other hand, economically diverse communities are good and something to be desired. Even if it was an ugly process to get here, we're now here. We should now turn our attention to questions of balance and questions of sustainability and how to create amenities that will strengthen the entire community. Excellent schools. Safe and beautiful places for people to relax and meet their neighbors. Ways for people to get the help they need and ways for people to help others in need. But we can't begin to find an equilibrium for this changed neighborhood if we must make up for what other neighborhoods are not providing. I think I will send in a link to where the affordable housing is in this city. Or the food pantries or the homeless shelters, halfway houses and mental illness facilities. You will see clustering for many of the reasons you imply.

    Uptown deserves a chance to find a way to balance itself and to move forward as a place for all people without drowning in expectations that it cannot meet with the resources we have.

  39. TSN, you seem to be projecting quite a bit (especially with the condescending comment, you seem quite full of yourself). I do not assume anyone is wrong if they disagree with me and I welcome different opinions and ways of looking at things. I think I have been able to admit I have learned things on this blog and can admit it if I am wrong....but a lot of this is not about what is absolutely right or wrong but about opinion. I know I don't have an answer for all the social problems facing Uptown, and I am quite sure neither do you or anyone else. But I am gonna keep sharing my thoughts and advocating for the homeless, so don't tune in if you don't want to see them.

    And to everyone, I am not saying anyone is wrong (or evil) for opposing WY. I have seen a lot of good reasons written about on this site for opposing WY that I agree with. I have never disagreed that it is better to spread out low income housing. I tend to think WY is a mistake, but also feel it is somewhat of a mute point as it looks likely to be finished and I won't hesitate to try and house people there if I can.

    Holey moley...I do not and have not disagreed that Uptown has a inordinate amount of shelters, low income housing, and ICF-MI/nursing homes. So what do you suggest be done about it? If you bring that up only as a reason to oppose WY or other similar new developments, then I can accept that and agree with you. Is there anything else to your point besides that? And I do know of areas on the west side and south side with clusters of shelters and such, but nothing on the North side like Uptown. And I not sure I agree with your statement that Uptown has been 'selected' or targeted this way. I lot of homeless people get dumped on the west and south sides as well, but if they are going north, granted it is usually to Uptown. I think things just developed that way in Uptown as I have stated in earlier posts and Uptown residents themselves had a major hand in it. But whatever, here we are now. What to do? Want to oppose new low income or homeless developments here in Uptown? I can support you. Do you want to eliminate or reduce what is here now? That is a different story.

    James, yes, I believe it is absolutely true that Uptown has a disproportionate amount of chronic MIs. No doubt, though the earlier posts were about people in poverty, not MI. And I beleive a lot of that is due to the lack of infrastructure to support people with chronic MI. And what infrastructure that does exist is crumbling. So what can be done about it? I would not support eliminating ANY existing services for the mentally ill in Uptown unless capacity was increased elsewhere. And if there were increased capacity elsewhere, social workers discharging people form psychiatric hospitals would have somewhere to send them besides Uptown, which we know has been going on for years and is unjust, but what can be done?. And I do not nor have I ever supported the notion that Uptown or any other community should alone bear the responsibility for coming up with needed solutions, and I have never seen where anyone else has either, so I am not sure what you are talking about there.


  40. I have seen a lot of good reasons written about on this site for opposing WY that I agree with. I have never disagreed that it is better to spread out low income housing. I tend to think WY is a mistake, but also feel it is somewhat of a mute point as it looks likely to be finished and I won't hesitate to try and house people there if I can.

    In other words, the plan for WY may very well suck, but it's just fine for you poor people who are going to have to live there.


  41. Sassy, that statement of mine you are asking about was a response in kind to Miss Kitty's comment that somehow I was advocating 'keeping standards low' in Uptown simply because I pointed out that other communities in Chicago have much higher rates of poverty. I never suggested such a thing about 'keeping standards low', and I admit no one I have heard has suggested driving out poor people from Uptown. But to answer your question of do I think poor people are being driven out of Uptown? To a degree, yes. I think it is happening naturally with the gentification process. I do not believe and did not seriously mean to imply that there is some kind of deliberate plan to do so. My response to Kitty was bourne out of some annoyance.

    I know of buildings that 15 years ago provided market rate affordable housing for people living on SSI that have gone the gut rehab condo route (and I am not saying there is anything wrong with that). So while Uptown still has a very large amount of low income housing, it IS less than what it was and the people who had lived there didn't exactly move into new low income housing developments in Lincoln Park, Wrigleyville, the Gold Coast, Bucktown or Wicker Park. They have migrated west and south into even poorer communities. And to answer your other question, I see it more as a steady trickle and not like some widely driven refugee movement of poor people leaving Uptown.

    The thing I kinda struggle with is trying to get a feel of the consensus of people in Uptown who feel there is too much low income housing or social services here. Do they just oppose the creation of new low income housing or shelters or homeless services in Uptown? I can go along with that as I do believe these things should be more evenly distributed. Do they want want to eliminate what is already here? That is what I have a problem with if people are also not presenting a viable and ready place to relocate the services. And I have a big problem with people who promote that the answer to the social problems in Uptown is to eliminate services to people because that will force them to 'pull themselves up'. Bottom line, I feel that overall there is a lack of affordable housing, homeless shelter space, and services for the homeless, mentally ill, and substance abusers, so I am definitely going to defend what does exist and advocate for more to meet the need. And I am happy to support the creation of those services and housing in neighborhoods outside of Uptown as I agree it cannot all be in one neighborhood.

  42. The goal of any elected official is to promote financial independence in their districts.

    The way to do that is to provide the best possible education, public safety, allow for local businesses to thrive and provide social services to the extent that we're, quoting Helen, "giving a hand up, not a hand out".

    The way NOT to do that is to take money from the revenue streams that finance education, ignore public safety concerns and local businesses, while devoting a majority of resources to social services.

    No one is advocating pushing people or services out of Uptown.

    What people are advocating is that we recognize that we've exceeding the point where we can properly provide social services and that we need to focus on promoting economic growth.

    Helen's turning Uptown into a dependent state.

    As we've seen with the state budget issues, if the funding dries up, social services get screwed.

    Helen's plans are destined to fail as she's ignoring true/healthy economic growth that social services are dependent upon in some way.

    If streams of revenue which fund everything she is trying to do stops, what are you left with?



    Whatever it may be, it won't be good the community.

    She simply hasn't thought this all the way through.

    As for Target.

    Target is a joke.

    While we'll get some property and sales taxes from it, the majority of the money will go back to Minneapolis. It won't stay within Chicago where it belongs and is much needed.

    And what happens should Target close that store?

    And if this Target sells groceries, what will happen to Aldi's?

    Also - why isn't she promoting local businesses in this ward?

    She obviously loves Andersonville since she practically lives there.

    Why doesn't she work to emulate that model here?

    I doubt anyone would have issue with that.

    Stacking more public housing and injecting more social services programs may promote diversity of government funded/assisted organizations, but that's not true and prosperous diversity, by any definition.

    Others have used her model, and everyone of them have failed.

    Gentrification, whereas it describes financial progress is a good thing, if allowed to work properly and not to work for the developers and zoning committee members (which is what we've seen to date in Chicago).

    The world is not stagnant. Everyone must continue learning and growing.

    Those who disparage gentrification are often times those who cannot, or will not, progress with the times.

    If these folks had better educations and were able to adapt..., their opinions on gentrification most likely would be different.

    The handicapped (physically/mentally, et al), of course, need public assistance. No argument.

    For a while, growing up, my family was on public assistance and, recently, I had to move out of my previous neighborhood due to gentrification and rising real estate prices and you don't hear me bitching about that.

    Why? Because I went to school, stayed out of trouble, didn't have kids before I was ready and worked my ass off. I ensured that I had options.

    Helen needs to be promoting an environment where others can do what I did.

    Being on public aid should not have a public stigma as a bad thing, but must carry a personal stigma where you simply don't want to be on it.

    People (kids especially) need to be in an environment where they can be inspired to higher aspirations and be given the education that will get them there, not view public aid as a lifestyle.

    Helen's got it all assbackwards

    She's stiffling economic growth.

    She's taking money from the educational revenue stream which traps kids into the cycle of poverty.

    She's inundating the area with models of failure.

    She trades favors with her socialist/communist comrades for political footing (not to mention her selling out to the mayor, which keeps the cycle of failure alive and well).

    Add to all of that, her being a complete bitch about how she conducts her business ... that's what gets peoples' dander up.

  43. She's inundating the area with models of failure.

    She trades favors with her socialist/communist comrades for political footing (not to mention her selling out to the mayor, which keeps the cycle of failure alive and well). yo

    Add to all of that, her being a complete bitch about how she conducts her business ... that's what gets peoples' dander up.

    Well yo, that pretty much sums up why the ward is so polarized, yet Helen keeps claiming it's a bunch of bad apples in the neighborhood.