Friday, June 29, 2012

Addressing The Homeless Population In The Parks

A reader's photo of the park across from the Disney School
From Ald. Cappleman's latest newsletter:

"We've had a growing number of people sleeping out in the parks and near the viaducts under Lake Shore Drive. The vast majority of the people sleeping in the parks have shown chronic signs of drug and alcohol dependency, and many of them suffer mentality disability. The parks are an unsafe place for this vulnerable population.

Members of the 46th Ward staff and I, along with staff from the 48th Ward, the Dept. of Human Services, the Police, and staff from Streets & Sanitation and the Chicago Park District, have visited the parks at 1:30AM in order to offer support and encourage those sleeping in the parks to utilize the multiple social services provided throughout the city. We will continue this practice and continue to take other necessary steps to address homelessness in the ward until we observe a clear indication that the parks and the neighborhood are being respected, and that those in need of services are receiving them.

If you are aware of other public places where there are people sleeping out in the open, please notify my office. We will work with social services to reach out to them and provide them with the necessary assistance to get them appropriate and safe housing.

In future newsletters, I will discuss plans to better coordinate social services in the area in order to foster collaboration and the use of best practices to assist those in need. Given future budget constraints, it's more important than ever that we make the best use of our limited resources throughout the City of Chicago."


  1. The condition of homeless in the parks are far from being under control. The areas of park East of Marine Drive and North of Montrose are always packed full of homeless sleeping and drinking in the evenings. You can see them line up at the water fountains to use them as a bath tub early mornings. The smell of urine has saturated the grounds. It is a unsafe and unhealthy condition. The only support and help needed is a swift kick and bus them out of our parks and neighborhood once and for all.

  2. WISEGUY, then contact the alderman's office and give them the details, so something can be done. If you'd read the article, you would see that "giving them a swift kick and busing them out of the neighborhood" isn't exactly the aim of things.

  3. giving them a swift kick and busing them out of the neighborhood" isn't exactly the aim of things.

    sigh....the reason they're here in the first place is because of all the nearby enabling centers

  4. So what? Arrest them? Clog up our detention centers with homeless people with no money/support to bail them out until their 30 days for loitering or public intox is up? They are just going to come back. Taking the easy way out of just "swift kicking" is only going to migrate the problem to another region, meaning it will only come back.

  5. Chicago use to have a Vagrancy Law that required everyone to have at least $2 at all times. Not sure why it's no longer enforced.

  6. There are multiple reasons that led to many people sleeping in the park. There will be multiple solutions to resolving this.

    The 2013 and 2014 budgets will be tough because of our pension crisis. That means, we have to make sure every single penny spent on social services is used in a wise manner. There will be cuts and I only want to cut services with poor outcome measures.

    For instance, we need to more quickly make the transition with the way we fund social services. Rather than provide funding for the number of beds provided, a shelter should receive funding based on how quickly they can get their shelter residents into permanent housing. Same holds true with social services receiving grants to do outreach to people sleeping in public areas. We know a social service is on the right track when they are able to show proof the people they serve get into interim or permanent housing within a timely basis.

    It means using evidence-based, best practices in addressing the needs of individuals with mental illness and drug/ETOH addiction so that there's some measure of accountability for the individual while they are also able to get off the streets.

    It also means doing a much better job of the person released from the IL Dept. of Corrections who has a mental illness/drug addiction and the person has no means to get their psychotropic medications.

    It means creating a system that encourages social services to work with one another rather than duplicate services so that they can get a particular grant.

    It also means creating a system that quickly identifies the various resources out there that address a particular problem, i.e. employment programs for those with a felony history, which will reduce recidivism in our prison system. And we fund such programs based on their performance outcomes.

    It's a tough issue to address, but I'm convinced that as we break it down and focus on our little success stories in each area, we will see some change. It's like observing someone dieting to lose 50 pounds. You don't notice it much, but one day, the person looks really different. I believe the same will hold true with the way we address homelessness in the 46th Ward and the City of Chicago.... all during some tough economic times.

  7. The picture caught my eye before I read the headline. I thought to myself, "Oh lovely, here's a story about a new 'Pants in Trees' art display." Fortunately that's not the case and glad to read Ald. Cappleman is seriously addressing the park's long standing problems.

  8. i'm not wise enough to have an educated idea on how to solve this problem, but one thing that stuck out to me was that (please excuse my CAPS) THE ALDERMAN WAS OUT, WITH STAFF, AT THE PARK AT 1:30AM.

    No matter how this gets resolved or what is done, you gotta tip your hat to the guy (and the staffpeople from both wards) for actually going out there and seeing what the situation is.

  9. Ald. Cappleman, I'm extremely pleased to hear that you are committed to tackling this compounded issue in a way that is evidence-based and that you see the flaws within the social service "system" (i.e. duplicating services to get particular grants).

    I work in public health and am well aware that it's extremely important and has a greater impact to address the underlying problems of homelessness first; otherwise we are just administering a temporary fix and ultimately prolonging the issue. Please continue to speak out about this and educate others (such as "WISEGUY") who think that homeless individuals should be criminalized. We need as many folks on your side as possible.

    Thank you again for all of your hard work and commitment.

  10. Maybe they can open up the police stations for the homeless like they do in winter? The high heat is making it dangerous for our homeless population.

  11. I am out in the trenches a lot, and I have seen a whole lot of new homeless/beggars, and not all of them fit the usual addict m.o., either.

  12. I took a walk down Marine Drive from Carmen to Montrose a couple of weeks ago on an early Friday evening. I started off walking on the east side of the street, through Lincoln Park, but soon felt so uncomfortable and unsafe that I crossed the street to get away from the gauntlet of homeless men who were lined up on the park benches leering at me as I walked by.
    Even though it was still daylight, I did not feel safe walking down a busy street because of the excessive number of indigents occupying the park. Something definitely must be done to clean up the problem.

  13. Speaking as a person who has been homeless (not by choice), not each and every one of them is helpless, som of them have decided it's an ideal way to live.
    Those ones, I have no sympathy for.
    You can live in this city for years with nothing but CTA fare, with the soup kitchens, etc.
    I refuse to patronize ANY business that tolerates panhandlers/loiterers