Monday, December 6, 2010

'Sarah's Circle' Wants SRO On Sheridan

We've had several readers write in regarding "Sarah's Circle," an organization that helps women who are homeless or in need of a safe place to stay. Sarah's Circle operates out of the building on the southwest corner of Lawrence and Sheridan. According to emails going around, they want to open a shelter or SRO for women at 4836 N. Sheridan. Is this the best location? We have the Boy's & Girl's Club across the street and an already struggling retail corridor. It looks like the block clubs in the area are taking the lead on this so we look forward to hearing updates.
You might remember this location as the home to the New Hope International Church. This photo (above) from Google shows the scaffolding that has been up for 1 1/2 years now after a windstorm in March of 2009 apparently caused the facade to collapse.


  1. Perhaps this organization should temporarilty call itself "Helen's Circle". The subsequent TIF dollars allocated to such a strategically-branded organization would certainly trump the expenditure at Wilson Yard. *cough*

  2. I wish the block clubs luck on their efforts to convince Sarah's Circle to locate somewhere else besides Uptown.

    While the drawings of their proposed remodel (found in their Annual Report from their website) are nice, in the end, it's just another half-way house.

  3. Sarah's Circle predates Ms. Shiller's tenure as alderperson for this ward. I believe it is a "faith based" charity with a decent track record. Not just "another half-way house," it offers positive support and services to women in need.

  4. Read what the Better Business Bureau has to say about this charity. They don`t have much of a favorable report.
    Better Business Bureau Report for
    Sarah's Circle
    Better Business Bureau Report issued January 2010
    Better Business Bureau Report expires January 2012

    Does not meet one or more standards
    This charity does not meet one or more of the 20 standards for Charity Accountability. Find out more...

  5. I am sure Sarah's Circle has good intentions.

    Uptown simply cannot handle additions to our special needs population right now (or possibly ever) until we can clean ourselves up (the drugs, the crime, the complete lack of civility and respect for community).

    Allowing an SRO at this location or ANYWHERE in Uptown is another missed opportunity in my mind.

    How long are we going to let this continue?

  6. There are probably 5 SROS (guessing) within 2.5 blocks of this site... that's about 4 too many in my opinion.

  7. I support it!!

    These women truly need this, and the Boy's & Girls's Club will be in will be fine with these women off of the street and improving.

    It is the moral thing to do.

    As well it is a crying shame that so many other communities on the North-side refuse to step up, who knows maybe some day.

    However,these women have suffered enough and cannot just wait for that golden day to come... they need shelter from the storm.

    These women are in our community NOW...they are already here for the most part. It's about serving them BETTER.

    Just please consider those less fortunate, in our Holiday season.


    Jeffrey Littleton

  8. Hate to be mean, but we have way TOO many of these unfortunate in our community. Spread them around to other communities,that is only fair!

  9. I'm sorry, but enough is enough. There is already an SRO on the corner of Sheridan and Argyle. Uptown is home to the lion share of the City's shelters, rehab centers, social service offices and subsidized housing, thanks to Shiller. We need to encourage the development of more businesses along Sheridan, like restaurants and stores, that will cater to the community's residents. That would finally make Uptown feel like a real, cohesive neighborhood and not a failed social experiment or dumping ground.

  10. So often we hear the argument "Where else do you expect them to go?" But I wonder if they have actually looked anywhere else? I would not be surprised if they did not look at other areas of the city, because it's historically been easier to turn to the dumping grounds of Uptown.

    This is also a chance for Don Nowotny to weigh in. He's previously said he would opposed additional housing of this type - well here's his chance to put his money where his mouth is. If he really believes that way, it's time to come out publicly against this project.

  11. Maybe they should put it in Lincoln park across from the zoo. Uptown is a little too congested right now.

  12. Enough is enough, sorry.
    Uptown is a bloated Tick as it is, with too many social services.

  13. Jeffrey - I appreciate your concern for the women that would potentially be helped at the proposed shelter. However, as has already been mentioned several times in this blog, there are already far too many of these facilities in our area.

    For this reason, it is difficult to attract businesses to locate to our neighborhood. These businesses would fill two voids in Uptown: (1) Offer jobs to those in need … an alternative to the mindless loitering that I see daily and (2) Offer those not needing assistance a place to shop and eat instead of funneling their money into adjacent neighborhoods.

    Uptown prides itself on diversity. However, to me it is just as segregated as Lincoln Park … just the other end of the spectrum.

  14. I got it. Let's put the new shelter next door to Rahm Emmanual's house. He doesn't live there anyway.

  15. A few follow-up comments.

    - Sarah's Circle is NOT a "failed social experiment", or part of a larger one Uptown itself as has been referred too.
    They have helped women in need of the help.
    The problem is women just keep getting abused. That is the core problem.
    If you don't like that problem, and I hope you don't, support a solution, but please don't get in the way.

    - The organization is already here and has been for 30 years or so. Why would they not be able to expand their mission. If anybody knows of a reasonably priced alternative across from the zoo please don't hold back and share.

    - Show your better sides, suspend your fears and snickers long enough to give Sarah's Circle and their mission a fair hearing before passing a generic anti-SRO argument.
    This is the Holidays after all, should be about more than shopping.

    - Uptown is not Lincoln Park, Edison Park, or Garfield Park. Agreed!

    - If anybody is discovering the names and details of these organizations only after moving here that is a shame.

    Do your homework next time.

    - A special thanks to the folks who thanked me directly from this post....I don't fault anyone for gingerly stepping around this steaming-pile.

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

    Jeffrey Littleton

  16. My concern isn't that Sarah's Circle has been here, but how it manages its clients.

    It's been located for quite a while in the 4750 N Sheridan building, and I believe that many of the ladies who hang out in front of that building are from SC.

    I certainly don't begrudge them needed social services (in fact, I donate to them), but I do have concerns about that corner and the loitering that takes place there. As others, including the Chamber, have said, it's not conducive to a successful retail corridor. Has Sarah's Circle proven to be a good neighbor, thereby earning the right to expand?

    Anyone who didn't want people loitering in front of Labor Ready, due to the children across the street going to school and going to Boys and Girls Club, needs to consider how having an SRO there will affect that same location.

    Frankly, I'm not impressed by Sarah's Circle's oversight of its clients at Lawrence and Sheridan. On the positive side, an SRO at Sheridan and Gunnison will probably decrease the amount of loitering at Sheridan and Lawrence. On the negative side, it will probably just move it down the street.

    If we do add yet another SRO, I hope we have a proactive alderman who addresses the various "enhancements" that the great number of social services brings to the community. A Yes-Man (or Yes-Woman) who follows orders and doesn't innovate is a bad thing. We need an alderman who will ensure that the social services monitor their clients in a way that improves both their lives and the community that houses them.

    I wonder what the Sheridan Task Force, who have worked so hard and so long to create a successful plan for Sheridan north of Lawrence. thinks about the possibility of an SRO opening at that location?

  17. By responding to the concerns about the project Sarah’s Circle is undertaking at 4836 N. Sheridan Rd, I have the opportunity to present the facts about this project such that I can alleviate many of the concerns raised.

    Sarah’s Circle has been serving women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in the Uptown neighborhood for 32 years. While we provide comprehensive services, when women live on the streets or in shelters, our services can do only so much to eliminate homelessness. The answer to ending homelessness is permanent housing.

    Our plans for the building located at 4836 N. Sheridan include 10 apartments of permanent housing with supportive services. Each apartment will have a kitchen and bathroom, plus there will be laundry facilities on each floor. This housing is permanent housing for women with a history of homelessness and a disability. This is not a SRO building in a traditional sense or a half way house of any type. Each woman will hold a lease and have the responsibilities of tenants. Our goal is to keep the women housed permanently via supportive services provided on site.

    Sarah’s Circle has been awarded two HUD grants which are the anchors to this development. These grants were awarded in a highly competitive process. Sarah’s Circle was chosen due to our excellent reputation for providing quality housing and services, our longevity in the field of serving women, and our capacity to leverage the project with other resources.

    The funds used for this project will be federal dollars as well as private donations from individuals and foundations. No TIF monies will be used for this project.

    Finally, with the services of Perkins + Will, we will design a facility that we believe will be a beautiful enhancement to the Sheridan streetscape. Perkins + Will is an internationally-renowned architecture firm that is providing 100% of the architectural services on a pro bono basis.

    Concerns for the vitality and safety of our neighborhoods are obviously very legitimate concerns shared by all. We believe our goal of providing excellent, permanent housing for women who have historically been homeless is in alignment with a thriving, safe neighborhood. We look forward to being good neighbors.

    Please feel free to contact me directly with any additional concerns you may have. My number is 773-728-1014.

    Kathy Ragnar
    Executive Director
    Sarah’s Circle