Homeless people who live under Lake Shore Drive viaducts on the city’s North Side are expressing “outrage” over the city’s increased cleanings under the viaducts.
The homeless encampment residents say are upset over “the current harassment campaign that is the new viaduct cleaning schedule and the threats to seize their property, particularly their tents, on or after the 14th of October.”
Tent City Voices Heard, made up of people who live in the Uptown homeless encampments, will speak about the issue Friday and invite the media to witness one of the weekly cleanings under the viaducts.
As Progress Illinois has reported, the city recently increased cleanings and trash pickup under the viaducts, where the homeless people live in tents. From now until October 14, the city will do weekly cleanings under the viaducts, during which homeless encampment residents will have to temporarily move from the location, according to the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services.
A city pilot program is underway to place 75 chronically homeless individuals living under the viaducts into permanent housing. As of last month, 40 people had been placed into housing and 11 dropped out of the program. The city hopes to have the remaining pilot program’s participants housed by November.
At the start of the pilot program, which was announced April, the cleanings happened less frequently. DFSS Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler recently said that the cleanings were initially held back in order to focus on “relationship building” and the pilot program’s assessments.
The homeless encampment residents argue that the increased cleanings are a form of harassment, saying they are “apparently for the primary purpose of, if not solely for, making life more difficult for the homeless.”
The homeless individuals have also expressed concern over whether their tents will be confiscated later this month. After October 14, the city, homeless encampment residents and other stakeholders will regroup to discuss the tents and whether they will need to be removed from under the viaducts, Morrison Butler recently said.
If the city requires removal of the tents, homeless people may have to “face the coming winter without the basic, minimum protection a tent provides,” Tent City Voices Heard said in a news release. “This while shelters in Chicago are 95 percent full ‘on any given night,’ according to the Department of Family Support Services, and three shelters in Chicago are slated to close, including one in Uptown by December 23.”