Squatter living in Jefferson home on Meade, homelessness at CTA terminal and plans for outdoor beat meetings discussed at safety meeting hosted by Alderman Gardiner
by BRIAN NADIG
A squatter living in a foreclosed home in Jefferson Park, homelessness issues and outdoor beat meetings were discussed at a Dec. 19 public safety meeting hosted by Alderman James Gardiner (45th).
A resident asked 16th (Jefferson Park) District police officials for an update on a man who reportedly has been living in a home in the 4900 block of North Meade Avenue for more than a year despite a bank taking possession of the property as part of foreclosure proceedings. The bank is evicting the man, and he is expected to be served with a “lockout summons” within the next five weeks, according to the district.
After the meeting police described the man as a “professional squatter” who is believed to have also squatted in a home south of the district. There have been calls for service to the home on Meade following disturbances, and some residents reportedly have moved from the block due to problems related to the home, police said.
Also at the meeting, a resident asked if anything is being done about what he described as the “disgustingness” at the Jefferson Park CTA Terminal, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave. “It’s gotten really bad lately,” he said of homelessness issues at the terminal.
On one recent day half-dozen people were living inside the covered walkway leading to the Blue Line entrance, and one man coukd be seen urinating next to a garbage can.
“A number of residents in the community have raised their concerns and rightfully so,” Gardiner said. “We are trying our best to work with these (unhoused) individuals. … It’s a very difficult task.”
Gardiner said that there are a variety of issues, including mental health and addiction, at play and that social organizations and the police are trying to bring resources to those living at the terminal, with the hope that housing can eventually be provided. “It’s a very sensitive subject,” Gardiner said.
“It’s a very, very challenging thing. You all know you’re not going to arrest your way out of this,” 16th District community policing sergeant Jeff Aaron said.
The district has an affinity officer who has been working directly with the unhoused and with social service groups, Aaron said.
“It’s on our radar,” Aaron said.
It also was reported that the district plans to have at least one outdoor beat meeting on each beat in 2023 after the success of a trial run last summer on Beat 1624 in the Portage Park area.
Aaron said that a resident offered to host a meeting on her front lawn and that it was a huge success, with more than 60 people turning out.
“Everybody at that meeting was able to connect with their neighbors. It was amazing,” Aaron said, adding that he had been skeptical of the idea. “I was proven wrong, way wrong. … It was the best meeting.”
Beat meanings, while not always well attended, play a critical role in the district’s success it allows for dialogue between residents and those officers patrolling their community, Aaron said. “You are our eyes and ears.”
Police officials also cautioned residents not to confront thieves but to call 911.
District captain Mike Barz said that those committing property crimes are increasingly armed with guns and should not be confronted.
About 60 people attended the meeting, which was held at Saint Robert Bellarmine Church, 4646 N. Austin Ave.
Gardiner also will hold a public safety meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 29, in the gym at Saint John’s Lutheran Church, 4939 W. Montrose Ave.