Monday, February 19, 2024

While We Are On The Subject of Cornerstone & The ZBA...

Since Cornerstone elected to place their operations under the microscope, tipsters have flooded the inbox with information about CCO and JPUSA. We are going to share a few with our readers.

One interesting tip takes us back to 2003, in the pre-UU days. 

When Cornerstone got a special use permit that year, the community asked for certain mandatory requirements as part of the special use. If they didn't follow them, the special use would automatically be canceled. 

However, consistent with how things happened under Helen Shiller, there was no process to monitor the requirements, and as our tipster wrote, CCO just ignored them.

One requirement, interestingly, was no men's shelter on the 4600 block of Clifton, exactly what CCO is attempting to do now.

Here's what ZBA spelled out back in 2003.

The same tipster shares a recent photo taken in front of St. Thomas (4827 N. Kenmore) where a sign from Cornerstone shows that while they are providing a service to our less fortunate neighbors, they are CLEARLY not following the special use permit on Clifton

How can they do this? They can do it because they never faced oversight after they were granted their special use permit in 2003, and there were and are no repercussions for ignoring the special use restrictions.

"Men and Women Accepted."

Interesting to note that another requirement of the special use permit is NO ONE USING DRUGS is allowed stay in the shelter. 

We remembered that was previously an issue in "Blood Alley," and firing up the UU wayback-machine took us to this story from 2009 when a Cornerstone "security" guard was arrested for selling heroin to those living in the shelter.

So, as we await the next move from CCO / JPUSA and their supporters Angela Clay and Helen Shiller, we thought it might be nice to remind the community that there is no system in place to assure CCO's adherence to the requirements spelled out in a special use, and CCO just ignores the requirements once they are in place. And we can't expect, given our many years of Helen Shiller watching (and her associates too!), that the current Aldermanic office will do anything if CCO violates the terms of future agreements. 

If you think ZBA should follow up with Cornerstone on why they can violate the existing zoning variance at 4615 N. Clifton, email them at

Maybe the Inspector General can focus on this issue too?

More to come.


  1. 4628 and 4615 N Clifton are not the same buildings. Yes, they are both under the umbrella of CCO, but 4215 helps shelter single women and single mothers. 4628 has the main cafeteria (which at night has sheltered migrants this past summer and is used as a warming center) on the first floor, and shelters families (mom, dad, kids) on the second.

  2. Then where was the special use to allow people to sleep overnight at 4628 N Clifton? And why was 4628 N Clifton mentioned in the 2003 special use?
    Warming centers are during the day. None exist that are overnight.
    Finally, no overnight shelter (it has people sleeping so it’s not a warming center) EVER has both men and women sleeping in a congregate space!

  3. It’s not just anybody and everybody who can spend a night there (“background check required”). Also, that was posted by St Thomas and was probably put up there during the cold snap (since that “offer” is only good till March). Page two of the ZBA: “warming/cooling center depending on the season” can make it available as a 24/7 warming center if approved by City/DFSS/DHS in emergency situations (like when the windchill is -40 & they need to temporarily “insure public health, safety, and welfare” which this space has offered for years). There are also two other rooms with cots that are used in 4628 separate from the cafeteria used for emergency overnights. After the background check, Women sleep in one room, family units in another, and men would sleep on cots in the cafeteria. They don’t all sleep in the same space and they can’t stay sheltered there longer than one-two nights if there are no actual beds available (small exceptions I know of would be if the person or their kid is disabled or are a senior, then more effort is made). Currently, if the single men are so inclined, they can listen to a caseworker there (or someone back at the DFSS office on Wilson) who can probably get them a bed at a church a mile away (or ship them down to PGM).

  4. Could you show the documentation from DFSS that made this an overnight warming center, and also permission received to do background checks. Can you also share proof the city allows children to stay in these overnight warming centers because DCFS would have a hard time with allowing this given that the City uses special resources when it comes to sheltering children.

    1. You cited previously that the proposed shelter didn't have any plans for background checks and now here you are asking if the shelter has gotten permission to run background checks.

      Do you want background checks or not?

      And who is the shelter meant to be getting permission from to do the background check? Is it the person who would be spending the night? If they object, they can choose to not utilize the service? Is that permission meant to come from the city? They don't even do their own background checks when they refer folks to shelters as they are meant to do.

    2. Why are friend of Former Alderman Cappleman out to erase his entire tenure? During his reign, block clubs bore the brunt of his blame, because he listened to them, and this blog feigned ignorance of his aldermanic prerogative. Since his retirement, his blogger friends have become downright ornery.

  5. It’s not really a new thing seeing opposition for services for folks who experience homelessness but you are also upset to see tents and homeless camps from you high-rise windows and “obstructing” you path to the lake front saying “something must be done to address this!”

    Well, maybe tone down your opposition to those who can provide services to the folks experiences homelessness and “blighting” your view from your high-rise. Or “obstructing” your path to the lake front.

    Trying to push the “problem” to other neighborhoods obviously hasn’t worked or there would likely be far less tents to see out your window.

    Instead, you rather kick a person while they are down. Like a bully. You rather treat them as something other than human…because that’s how you see these folks. In your eyes, they are less than human and deserve less dignity, decency, respect, kindness, & humanity.

    But you don’t stop there, you go after those who would treat these folks with dignity, decent, respect, kindness & humanity as well. As though doing these things is somehow an evil and wrongful thing to do.

    Apparently for you, the concept of the Golden Rules (which spans most belief systems not just one) is not a concept you can embrace and perhaps you lack the ability to comprehend.

    What happens on that day when your luxuries and comforts are lost? How do you hope to be treated?

    1. Exactly how many victim cards do you have in that deck?

    2. Maybe JPUSA should have lived by the Golden Rule first when children were sexually abused and second when they tried to cover it up and third when they lashed out at the victims.

      Maybe they shouldn't have tried to cook the books with their form letters from 920 W Wilson Ave and their obvious manipulation of the minimally-circulated over-the-holiday survey. By the way, some JPUSA people only put their unit numbers in the Towers instead of their full address.

      Subtracting the unit-number-only form letters, JPUSA letters from individuals accounted for >80% of the letters.

      JPUSA organizations accounted for 6 of the 17 organizations providing support. Not including Missio Dei Uptown. They all predate 12/15.

      Maybe more than 4 of the letters of support should have come *after* the public announcement of this proposal full Clay on 12/15. More than 100 of the letters of the just over 100 total letters predate this.

      Maybe Andrew Winter shouldn't have lied through his teeth at the community meeting about the connections between JPUSA and Cornerstone. He's the CEO of Cornerstone and the Treasurer of JPUSA. What's there to hide? Did he think this would earn him trust outside the walls of the Friendly Towers?

      Maybe JPUSA should try this proposal with 920 W Wilson instead! It could certainly use the $9m for renovations more than 1140 W could! Plus, they already have a $1.3m construction loan and an elevator building permit to get started ASAP and get the unhoused off the street sooner!

      It's also mixed use.

      The city would also help the individuals relocate! That didn't seem to be an issue whatsoever in 1140 W!

      But I guess since 920 W is foreclosed on for building code violations the $9m of taxpayer money wouldn't have as much of a remaining balance left as 1140 W would have. I guess on paper it would be the same with $48,000 per unit at 1140 W for a building rehabbed in 2015, but we know that was getting funneled out one way or another.

      Funneled out where you ask? Sexual abuse settlements! Collateralizing properties can only go so far!

      I bet everybody else in the 46th ward wishes they could be as noble as you. I guess we now know how the phrase "holier than thou" was derived.

    3. Apparently the sins of JPUSA cited by this "whataboutism" is enough to warrant the bullying of those unhoused. Yep. Makes sense

    4. Your use of the word "bullying" has no basis in reality whatsoever.

      I don't think a call for 920 W Wilson to be converted to an all men mixed-use non-congregate shelter is whataboutism. I'd say it's a call to action! It's a perfect fit!

      Stand up for what you believe, JPUSA!

      And since there's "no connection" between Cornerstone and JPUSA, there shouldn't be any issues relocating those gentrifiers from their market rate units!

      Or are you just a bunch of NIMBYs?

    5. First, the whataboutism is your finger pointing at the sins of JPUSA.

      Second, I am not JPUSA

    6. Your use of the word "bullying" has no basis in reality whatsoever.

      - says a bully

    7. If you are mad at the homeless when you walk your dog or from your window, you are a ghoul. That is all.

  6. So we’re clear, you’re upset about 4628 not 4615 (since 4615 isn’t used as a warming center or housing men at all). Can you show any documentation of CCO passing every inspection from these organizations and the City, or renewed contracts over the past 11 years, or is it still 2003? Any sarcasm aside, based on prior experience and regulatory requirements, background checks are ran on everyone. No one can just show up there without referral or prior referrals (usually done through DFSS when talking about single men, which started this whole thing). Also CCO doesn’t shelter unaccompanied minors at all. No idea how you got that idea.

    1. Sorry, meant 21 years, not 11. And 2003 is for 4615 N Clifton… 4628 N Clifton has been there as a shelter & homeless services since 1989.