CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago’s zoning board gave the green light Friday to a new place for an overnight youth homeless shelter that has been dividing Bucktown residents.
The people behind the Night Ministry say it’s needed as a place to safely house more at risk youth, a majority LGBTQ, but residents who have had safety concerns about it, and voiced them for a while now, say the board’s approval doesn’t change them.
The building with Frederick Douglass’ face on it on North Ashland Avenue is the Night Ministry’s new overnight shelter for young adults, known as The Crib.
They signed a 10-year lease.
And that is when many nearby residents say they learned of their plans to move from the church they’ve outgrown in Lakeview to Bucktown.
Wedged between a park, the expressway and a nearby elementary school, it is a location Night Ministry representatives said they took two years to choose.
But it’s the location that has brought many out in droves to voice concerns.
“My block feels unanimously that the shelter will have a significant adverse affect on the welfare of the neighborhood,” said one resident.
There have been weeks of back and forth, and that is what brought Bucktown residents to Friday’s zoning meeting. Some showed up before 9 a.m. The hearing didn’t happen until around 5:30 p.m. — the last of the night.
Many took off work to be at the meeting to vocalize support or concerns. Many had to leave before the board could hear their cases, but people in support and opposition did face the board.
“It would really be something exceptional for my children to be able to see how lucky they are and what they can do for other people,” another resident said.
“I’m a Chicago fireman. Let’s get real about this. I’ve been on the job for 30 years. My job is to protect everybody. But if we can’t protect our kids here, how am I performing my job?” said yet another resident.
The zoning board goes back and deliberates after all of the hearings, so only CBS 2 was left in the room to hear the decision, but residents gave mixed reactions over the phone.
Some were disappointed in their alderman vocalizing support to the board when they say many have filed complaints with him.