Reporting Mike Krauser
CHICAGO (CBS) – Some residents of the trendy Bucktown neighborhood want to see a homeless encampment taken down, but it appears that the law is on the side of the people living there.
WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports one activist said plenty of residents are complaining, but nobody’s doing anything about it, and passersby need to stop “feeding the bears.”
“It’s a quality of life issue. I mean everybody feels bad for people who are homeless, but these guys are willing homeless,” said Bucktown resident Steve Jensen, who is among those who want passersby to stop giving the group of homeless people money, so they’ll go away.
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Two brothers from Kansas City – John and Paul – and John’s girlfriend Sandy have been living in a makeshift shelter under the Kennedy Expressway at Fullerton Avenue, along with their dog.
“We’re not getting rid of him, because he’s 11 years old,” Sandy said.
Sandy asked those who are trying to get rid of them to “mind their own business, please. We’re not hurting nothing, we’re not alcoholics.”
Jensen said he’s heard from more than 100 residents wondering “why are those people squatting there, why is their garbage all around them, why aren’t they taking care of their dog?”
“Please leave us alone. We’re just trying to live,” Sandy said.
“When you lose your job, this is what happens to you,” one of brothers said.
Jensen said most people “think they’re meth addicts.”
“It’s just they never clean up after themselves, and I kind of feel the neighborhood sentiment that they’re frustrated,” he said.
But the people living there vehemently denied being meth addicts.
“They got me wrong. They can drug test me if they want. I ain’t no meth head,” one of the brothers said.
The three said, if local residents really want to get them off the street, they can do more to help than just give them spare change.
“Tell all these rich people to get us off the streets. If they all went together, they could get us off the street, instead of giving us little things,” one brother said.
Jensen said, “I’d love to be part of that gravy train, too.”
He said he tried to put them to work as laborers, but they didn’t want to work.
“These guys sit there all day, and all this traffic goes by, and it’s feeding the bears,” he said. “Just a constant stream of money.”
“They’d rather sit around, and put on a pouty face all day, and accept all the food and all the money that’s delivered to them,” he added.
The land is owned by the state, and it appears the three are not going anywhere soon.