Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ald. Smith's Urgent Plea

Alderman Mary Ann Smith,48th Ward of Chicago, sent this in an email blast to her constituents. It's good advice for the 48th Ward, but can be applied to the rest of Chicago as well. A Request Regarding Homeless Shelters Dear Neighbors, As you may have heard, we have a serious situation with respect to the closing of homeless shelters in our community and would appreciate your input and suggestions on this. Last year, Breakthrough Urban Ministries moved 30 overnight shelter beds from the 5200 block of Ashland to the west side of the City. Earlier this year, the Salvation Army's Tom Seay Center in Uptown (1000 block of Sunnyside) was closed because they lacked appropriate zoning; this resulted in the loss of 95 beds. And on November 1st, the R.E.S.T. shelter on Kenmore will close because of ongoing financial and management concerns. This will eliminate another 65 beds. R.E.S.T. is the only men's shelter located in the 48th Ward. We have been assured that the City has the capacity to move people, on a daily basis, from gathering points to existing shelter beds in other communities. These facilities also provide counseling, treatment and other services that have never been provided through R.E.S.T. Some argue, however, that the homeless won't go, preferring the danger of staying outdoors in the cold to the danger of new locations. Because this can lead to increased homeless encampment in our streets, alleys and parks, and the eventual possibility of these people becoming sick or freezing to death, it becomes clear that we need to talk of a new temporary or permanent shelter location in our area. We are a ward and community that makes decisions together - trying to listen, talk, argue and then decide. We try to balance compassion and practicality. We need to do that now. If you have practical suggestions or ideas about how you can help, we would like to put them into the community conversation. We will discuss this at the next Z&P meeting, October 29th at 7:30. You can e-mail us at or write us at Mary Ann Smith, 5533 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60640. Although the time is short, we would appreciate your input by Monday, October 27. Join Team Edgewater Volunteers at the GCFD on November 6 to Earn Credit for Care for Real. Team Edgewater is organizing a group to go to the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD) on Thursday, November 6, to benefit Care for Real. Volunteers earn $5 in credit for each hour worked. This credit is applied to the Care for Real account and used to buy food from the Depository. Volunteers are asked to pay a $5 fee to cover transportation to and from the Depository and light snacks. However, the Care for Real Governing Board members will pay the fee for willing workers who need help. For additional information and reservations, call (773) 508-1089. Sincerely, Mary Ann Smith Alderman, 48th Ward