CHICAGO (CBS) — Homeless people who had been living in tent cities under two Lake Shore Drive viaducts were ousted Monday morning for a construction project, with the city holding firm they could not rebuild their “tent cities” nearby, either.
Last week, a federal judge ruled the people living under the Uptown tunnels have no constitutional right to stay.READ MORE: Police Board Orders Firing Of CPD Officer Patrick Kelly, Accused Of Shooting Friend In Head While Off-Duty And Lying About It
Several Chicago police officers were on hand, but the homeless people packed up and left without incident — that is, until they set up their tents on the parkways nearby. City officials and police officers said they could not stay there, either.
The tents then moved to a third spot: on a public way at Marine Drive and Montrose Avenue.
City representatives say they have repeated offered shelter space to the displaced, but many declined.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Storms Headed Our Way After Midnight; Damaging Winds And Heavy Rain Possible
“If they say no to me, I respect that, and I won’t force anyone to accept our services,” says Alisa Rodriguez, deputy commissioner of the Department of Family and Support Services. “However, I will tell you that our teams are out here regularly, and we regularly ask the same question, because we definitely do not want people living in these conditions.”
The city has said it must make repairs to the Lake Shore Drive viaducts, which are deteriorating, and people cannot live there while construction is underway.
Activists held a protest rally over the weekend, arguing the homeless in the tent cities have a right to gather in the public way. They said, all too often, the homeless simply have been priced out of affordable housing.
“If the city does not like the sight of homeless encampments, the solution’s pretty simple: provide the funding that you have to house people. They have TIF money for luxury housing, they have CHA money just sitting there,” Uptown Tent City Organization spokesman Ryne Poelker said.MORE NEWS: Bears Proposed Moving From Chicago, Possibly To Gary, In 1995 -- Leading To Huge Fight Between Mayor Richard M. Daley And Team Brass
City officials had proposed moving the homeless to Pacific Garden Mission, a shelter about 9 miles south on the Near West Side. However, many of the homeless have said they feel safer on the streets.