Monthly Archives: October 2017

26 Oct 2017

City continues to throw away homeless possessions

By | 2017-12-07T12:52:32+00:00 October 26th, 2017|Sleeping Rough|0 Comments

A suitcase and some cardboard for sleeping, hidden in some bushes in Uptown Chicago.

Chicago Police Department and Chicago Park District continues their heartless assaults on homeless people

Wondered how things were going for viaduct eviction refugees living outside in or near the park? Not too good.

I have heard from several sources living in breakdown every day status in the park that some days ago they were woken up at 3:00am and forced to pack up and move. One man that I know of lost his tent then.

Now, even worse, the City has managed to grab a bunch of people’s possessions and throw them away, including tents and EVERYTHING they own.

Sounded like some were sick, and the stress of it all has at least one woman considering going to the hospital tonight.

I wish I could share more details and photos but people already living as targets for the City’s heartlessness need our protection.

The City of Chicago really is cruel. So much for social worker leaders…

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Be sure to Join the Uptown Outside Facebook Group!
https://www.facebook.com/groups/UptownOutside

22 Oct 2017

Parable of the Good Samaritan & Homeless People

By | 2017-12-07T12:58:58+00:00 October 22nd, 2017|Activism|0 Comments

Feeding neighbors experiencing homelessness at the recent Uptown Tent City evictions.

Fund raising & protesting for homeless people without housing, feeding or clothing them is passing by them on the other side of the road, unmerciful and not neighborly

This is pretty basic theology, even secular ethics. Don’t be an organization with Reverend, Pastor, Minister, Rabbi, etc. on your Board of Directors and let your organization pass by people who really need help, all the while your corporate bank account goes cha-ching.

Luke 10:25-37 NIV
The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Be sure to Join the Uptown Outside Facebook Group!
https://www.facebook.com/groups/UptownOutside

20 Oct 2017

Displacement Activism and Compassion

By | 2017-12-07T12:57:24+00:00 October 20th, 2017|Activism|0 Comments

Uptown Tent City is gone but is the feeding trough?

In case you didn’t notice, I recently stepped down from leadership at the Uptown Tent City Organizers. Make no mistake about it though, I am in complete agreement with 90%+ of what the Uptown Tent City Organizers do. To work together with the people there really was an honor I will always remember fondly.

One of the advantages of my newly minted independence is to be able to comment on organizations, groups and individuals exterior to that group. I do this to educate and hopefully focus volunteers/donors on the best types of groups to put their efforts/donations into.

Wow, when UTCO was founded, was I in for some eye opening education. I really did think everyone working for the homelessness and housing causes were of pure motivations and respectful of each other.

ONE Northside: Million $$$ Corporation needs $100

Recently I saw an Internet post seeking donations to purchase less than $100 tax & shipping included worth of tarps for homeless refugees of the viaduct evictions. ONE Northside is one of the largest protest organizations on the north side of Chicago. A group that is difficult to criticize in a sound bite, because it has many super well meaning and hard working volunteers.

It is the paid leadership and the corporation I criticize, not the volunteers.

This ad was somewhat humorous because this organization is a marching with signs and colored t-shirts powerhouse, but frankly, they never do anything for the people experiencing homelessness. They protest a storm up and walk away, doing nothing to help.

OK $100 is a start… Or is it?

I stress if this organization did anything like housing, feeding, clothing, etc. homeless people, I would say power to them, send money in buckets. However, let’s take a peek at their finances.

2011 Total Revenue: $1,189,784
Executive compensation, salaries and wages: $440,499

2012 Total Revenue: $2,269,981
Executive compensation, salaries and wages: $746,513

2013 Total Revenue: $1,439,258
Executive compensation, salaries and wages: $503,019

2014 Total Revenue: $1,193,580
Executive compensation, salaries and wages: $622,833

2015 Total Revenue: $776,057
Executive compensation, salaries and wages: $505,406

For the life of me I can’t imagine, why, if they are in contact with people that desperately need $100 worth of tarps, they would even waste the time fund raising for it. The Uptown Tent City Organizers raised roughly $10k/yr and much of that came from the leaders and actively involved membership. UTCO had no problem pumping thousands of dollars worth of tarps and much else out of their own pockets to help people.

Even worse is the Displacement Activism

ONE thing this organization really excelled at was displacing groups actually doing things to help homeless people. Reality is there is only so much bandwidth for homelessness. Media attention, time to attend events and so on. This organization was seen nowhere even just protesting outside homelessness before UTCO invited them to stand together in solidarity with them. Before you knew it, instead of adding to the movement, there was a great orchestration to take what others had built.

This was not only displacing more effective activism and compassion, but sowing division between activists and homeless people and wasting homeless peoples’ time, diverting them from working on their own issues, paying them nothing for their speaking and advertising their photos for ONE Northside’s corporate gain. This is taking advantage of people in a desperate position in my opinion.

Don’t even get me started about organizing people that need ‘subsidized housing’ desperately to waste their time advocating for ‘affordable housing’ that they will not likely be able to afford nor will this housing materialize in their own neighborhood in the unlikely event it did materialize somewhere…

Ah, the pressures of corporate fund raising I guess… They did a pretty good job actually hurting homeless people when you look at the net loss, glad it was profitable for them. Sure you can’t cover those tarps?

To be fair, since the inception of UTCO, there was a steady stream ready to co-opt UTCO efforts, this organization is hardly alone, except maybe in its scale. Some displacers lived for the camera and newspaper page, some for the donation skim, (like collecting donations for $20 bags of ice, selling tents and much more). I can’t fault too much the extreme minority of homeless people themselves that sought to profit for survival, but to profit for a part time job or corporately and handsomely profit on homelessness is unfathomable to me.

Capitalism, you have to love it, even tragedy and misery can be profitable.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Be sure to Join the Uptown Outside Facebook Group!
https://www.facebook.com/groups/UptownOutside

18 Oct 2017

When housing Activism is actually De-activism

By | 2017-12-07T12:56:56+00:00 October 18th, 2017|Activism|1 Comment

Deactivating housing without replacement is…

It is immoral. It is always rich, without exception, to be comfortably housed, and then work against other people’s housing conditions, when there are no realistic replacement options immediately available.

One disconnect seen commonly in the past are complaints about various SROs and other low cost housing units that have not been maintained adequately. Yet, remove that housing and often, there are no other good options. To oppose this housing, even in a substandard state, only condemns the people living there to be homeless.

You may find some housing detestable, but still many people that actually live there choose and desire it over the alternatives available to them. What right does any housed person have to say that another person should be homeless rather than poorly housed?

Personally, I’d rather be in the crummiest apartment than a shelter or worse, a tent or a blanket on a sidewalk. Most housing activists seem to get this.

When there are too many low cost SROs and other low cost housing units vacant and for rent, then we can start to worry about forcing them out of the market.

Ditto for faith-based shelters

It is a fact, there are not enough available shelter beds in Chicago. Speaking from experience, I would like to thank -all- faith-based shelters for caring and stepping up to the challenge. Without the faith-based shelters voluntary help, thousands in Chicago alone would be living who knows where, because our government has failed its citizens miserably. Housing, emergency or otherwise in Chicago, gets an F grade.

Everyone I have known to experience homelessness including moi, have stayed in faith-based shelters at some point, if not the entirety of their homelessness experience. How rich of anyone to think they and their ideals have some right to force other people to live on sidewalks or loading docks, just because they don’t like some particular shelter rules or policies.

I’ll be the first to admit, living in any homeless shelter is likely not a positive experience for a variety of reasons. There are some faith-based shelters I am not keen on and some I love. Still, anything short of personal housing is going to, well… fall short.

If you are upset at the quantity and quality of public shelters, please do place your anger where it belongs, with your government representatives, not the private individuals and non-profits kind enough to try to help, even if they do so imperfectly.

Corrupt governments always love it when its citizenry tears each other up instead of it…

Tip: Be careful of second information about shelters. Most times I have heard negative stories about shelters, a major piece of the story was left out which changed everything. The reality of homelessness is bad enough, we don’t need to cook the facts please.

More Importantly

Stop complaining and do something. If you feel there should be governmental shelters, non-faith shelters, or specialty shelters for any group not currently served or served well, power to you!

Please consider putting your time and actions into positive gains. I am part of an organization that has spent a lifetime doing so. Every day, we now directly house 300 homeless individuals and 100 senior citizens. 400 total.

You too can do that. Sometimes the non-profit sector has to step in and do what the public one won’t. Seriously, I think time is being wasted with anger that could be better spent on positive gains.

Search your own heart. Personally, I feel it is ultra-important to have either new or truly new-minded government representatives as well as continue to litigate corrupt government, but beyond that, unlimited bull horn yelling and sign marching are not going to have the real use that actually building a new homeless shelter or volunteering as a positive advocate at one will.

When there are too many available shelter beds, then we can start to worry about…

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Be sure to Join the Uptown Outside Facebook Group!
https://www.facebook.com/groups/UptownOutside

13 Oct 2017

The ‘I’m a Social Worker’ deception

By | 2017-12-07T12:55:13+00:00 October 13th, 2017|City Council|1 Comment

June 28, 2015 – Alderman Cappleman (middle) with Lauren Peters (2nd from left) getting ready to assault me for taking this picture of Cappleman next to the Uptown Baptist Church. I’ve been inviting Cappleman to talk about it for years now, he remains silent. He walked away, apparently OK with the violent abuse of an older constituent by staff half their age, sound like a social worker? I think not. Still, I am ready to get past this when Cappleman is.

Writing about Cappleman is like having teeth pulled

Oy vey iz mir. Serious lamentations. It has to be done however. I need to lay some foundations and move forward. FYI, I know how written text can be misread, there is no sarcasm or condescension in this post. Factual confrontation, yes.

I must confess my anger at the Alderman’s actions recently grew full blown. I was in a state of sin. No excuses, no rationalizations. I was wrong. Its amazing how the blur of lines you don’t want to cross occurs when anger grows… Its still like radiation to me, so I am zipping through these Cappleman posts.

You see Alderman Cappleman, respectfully, you and I are not so different. We are both sinners. I can actually envision that we could sit down and talk. Not on your terms though. We need to both be in a repentant state. If you are not there yet, that is cool, I took a long time too.

You might think people just want to yell, but that is not true. People are just frustrated talking to a wall that doesn’t listen, that just wants to talk in circles about how it is not a wall. No one wants to waste their time with that.

As someone with social worker training, even if you didn’t take it to heart, you must recognize that addict kind of yip-yap in yourself.

Well, if you don’t see it, consider asking God (seriously) to reveal it to you. Worked for me, you’d be amazed at what God has shown me, once I stopped filling the answer box with my own answers and asked Him instead.

Again respectfully, because you stated you were once a Friar, perhaps then or even now still, you believe(d) in an all powerful God, the grace and mercy of Jesus. Either way, God loves you as much as me, but I cannot bring you to Him, only you can go.

A hand as cold as dead

One evening, earlier this week on Wilson Avenue, I shook the hand of a former Uptown Tent City resident, an older man whose hand was cold as dead. I touched his shoulder and felt his clothes, he was soaking wet from head to foot. The weather was windy and chilly, the wrong time to be soaking wet. I would generally describe him as appearing ‘shell shocked’. ‘Sleeping’ outside on blankets in the rain, hiding in the park. I gave him a tent, which is a pathetically inadequate response.

This situation is a direct result of the evictions. One of a hundred. Cappleman owns this. Is this social work? I think not.

Now here is the thing, am I any better a person than Cappleman? Surely, I am no better, probably even worse a person than Cappleman. I did face my bad and repent though.

Repentance sounds like a harsh word, but in reality it is a lot easier than days, weeks, and years of rationalizing clearly wrong behavior. Once you do it, you wonder why you resisted so long.

Ephesians 5:11 NIV
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

I will also mention that the National Association of Social Workers, Illinois Chapter cared enough about this to actually ‘sponsor’ or pay to have this Facebook post more widely circulated. They also posted it on their webpage:

NASW-Illinois Chapter Statement on the Homeless Tent City in Uptown

FYI, writing this post has been a real spiritual blessing to me. I’m sure I learned more about my own heart than I tried to share with Cappleman about his, as it should be. The needless suffering of the homeless and poor in Uptown however, needs to be dealt with. A wrong needs to be righted. Otherwise we need a new leader.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Be sure to Join the Uptown Outside Facebook Group!
https://www.facebook.com/groups/UptownOutside

12 Oct 2017

Moving forward in a post Uptown Tent City world

By | 2017-10-26T11:37:21+00:00 October 12th, 2017|General|2 Comments

September 20, 2017 – What remained of Uptown Tent City 4’s possessions were stuffed into a truck. The residents scattered, their hopes to rebuild their community destroyed…

Pain & suffering are now more acute than ever

For weeks since the eviction of Uptown Tent City, I have tried to find a way to remove politics and politicians from the homelessness in Uptown equation. As much as I wanted to do it, it just can’t be done.

There are a lot of people, with and without homes, that are very angry at Alderman Cappleman, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Police Department over the viaduct evictions, self included. It is completely understandable. That corrupt group causes death, pain and real observable suffering for thousands of people.

It is not about the viaduct construction, that needed to be done. It is about the way the viaduct evictions were handled, the wrong way.

The way that prioritizes concrete and asphalt over all human life. The way that says hate, indifference, dishonesty and inordinate force rules Chicago…

The resulting pain and suffering for homeless people in Uptown is happening every minute of every day. It may be conveniently swept out of sight and hidden from Alderman Cappleman’s purposely blinded eyes, but it is not hidden from my eyes nor is it hidden from God’s eyes.

Hebrews 4:13 NIV
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

As a follower of Jesus, I had to admit and pray to Him that I alone cannot fix this, I can’t even attend to it. With the residents of the tent cities shattered into a hundred pieces, spread near and far, now with ten times the amount of troubles, I can’t even do as much as I could before. It may seem ultra-obvious but I had to remind myself that before, during and after this moment, God’s help needs to be there.

At times I wanted to give up, but truth be told, Jesus’ instruction to love our neighbors, especially those in need, is never ending.

I strongly felt led to start this blog not as a replacement to the Uptown Tent City Organizers, but as a supplement.

Living through Chicago winters with tents for protection from the elements was already a tragedy for people experiencing homelessness outside. Now it can only be worse in the upcoming winter with no tents.

I’m going to start out this new blog with a series of posts on Alderman Cappleman. Stay tuned. Pray for me. Pray for Alderman Cappleman.

The Matrix, Neo
I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin.

Thanks!
-Yehuda

Be sure to Join the Uptown Outside Facebook Group!
https://www.facebook.com/groups/UptownOutside