‘They’re Not Good Neighbors’: Bucktown Residents Push Back Against Possible Overnight Youth Homeless Shelter

Chicago News

CHICAGO (CBS) — At a packed zoning meeting in Bucktown, residents pushed back against plans to move an overnight youth homeless shelter into their neighborhood, citing safety concerns.

The people behind the Lakeview shelter say they’ve outgrown their current space, and they help a population that really needs it. Their plan is to move the Night Ministry to N. Ahsland Ave.

“I don’t think you’ve been very transparent,” said one resident at the meeting.

“We have enough problems in our neighborhood,” said Mithcell Hutton. “We don’t need any more.”

“These people are not coming from Bucktown, and as far as I understand, looking at police reports with the people they had problems with, they weren’t from Lakeview either,” said Robert Olewinski.

CBS 2’s Tara Molina looked into their concerns.

There was a SWAT team response to the facility in 2013, and crimes and other issues were reported in 2016 and 2017. In one case a man was arrested and charged with battery and resisting arrest.

Then the shelter closed for two month to reevaluate and retrain its staff. Since then there have no been reported major issues.

But concerned residents say that doesn’t mean the problems stopped.

“They’re not good neighbors,” said Hutton.

“We are all about community engagement,” said Paul Hamann, president and CEO of the Night Ministry. “If you have a concern about our program, come to us.”

Hamann says the shelter serves a vulnerable population they’d like to house in a safe neighborhood. It took to years for them to select Bucktown, where they want to be a good neighbor, he says.

“Every time we have a situation we learn from it,” he said. “We train staff, and we try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The special use permit the shelter has applied for doesn’t require a resident vote but does require approval by the zoning board.

Residents can file concerns with the board, which is set to review the matter next month.

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