‘Housing Day’ at Jefferson Park CTA Terminal connects homeless with services
by BRIAN NADIG
About 20 homeless individuals received assistance during a three-hour outreach event on Thursday, Jan. 28, at the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Heartland Alliance, a outreach agency, placed nine individuals on a housing wait list, including veterans who often have more options for assistance, said state Representative Lindsey LaPointe (D-19), who is a member of the recently formed Jefferson Park Working Group on Homelessness. The group sponsored the recent “Housing Day” at the transit center.
The group distributed food, hygiene kits and bus passes, while representatives from Heartland and The Night Ministry provided a variety of services.
“The people in our neighborhood want to do something and help,” said LaPointe, a former outreach social worker. “Two people with fairly urgent medical needs spoke with a doctor from TNM and were given meds and referrals.”
LaPointe said that positioning on the wait list can be impacted by one’s level of vulnerability, including medical issues, and that the housing comes with supportive services to help through the transition.
Heartland outreach worker Ryan Spangler said that to be eligible for housing, the names of homeless individuals are entered into the “coordinated entry system” and that in some instances veterans can moved into an apartment within a few weeks while on the average it can take about six months for others. Those who were registered at the terminal also were added to the Chicago Housing Authority wait list, he said.
The working group includes representatives of the Jefferson Park Forward, Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association, Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce, Eden United Church of Christ, Neighbors for Affordable Housing and 45th Ward Alderman James Gardiner’s staff.
One of the group’s volunteers is Eva Skowronski, a board member of the Jefferson Park neighborhood association and chamber of commerce. Skowronski spends several days a week talking to the area’s homeless and encouraging them to seek help.
“Two of them out there like it because they don’t want to follow the rules inside … if they go to a shelter,” Skowronski said. One man lives in a tent with a generator and feels “why should I spend all that money for an apartment,” she said.
One homeless man recently collapsed at the terminal and died. Skowronski said that his relatives told her that he had been at a nursing home but left because he wanted to drink alcohol.
The working group was formed in part due to concerns that there is no public washroom at the CTA terminal, contributing to problems of people using parking lots and alleys. In recent weeks it is not uncommon to see individuals wrapped in multiple blankets sleeping at the terminal.
The group can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: Nadig Newspapers’ publisher Brian Nadig is the chamber’s president.