Uptown homeless shelter may close even with budget deal

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It is unclear whether the stopgap budget deal will be able to keep an Uptown homeleess shelter open, having spent all of its emergency funds during the stalemate. (WLS)

The Shelter at the People's Church in Uptown says they have spent all their emergency funds during the budget standoff and will be forced to close, maybe even with the stopgap budget in place.

Governor Rauner knows the shelter well - he's visited there.

This is the social service safety net. Chili and fruit salad are served for lunch on a day when the men who call the shelter home are being told that, in a month, it won't be here for them anymore.

When asked where he'd be without the shelter, Darren Henderson says, "Where would I be? God knows. Probably nowhere."

That bewilderment is on North Side Housing and Support Services director Richard Ducatenzeiler's mind as well. The city refers the homeless to him, where they can get a cot, a meal and a have a case worker assigned. The city has been fronting the money the state earmarks for these services, but the contract ends the last day of June.

"They refer people here who are on the streets that have absolutely nowhere to go, so after this there is actually nowhere else but the streets," Ducatenzeiler says.

Governor Rauner knows that, because he spoke with clients and staff as part of his day of service in January 2015. The church's senior minister gave him a tour. Now she must collect herself before speaking.

"I don't understand how someone with seven houses, I understand, can be so stingy with people who have nothing," says Senior Minister Jean Darling.

"We serve 72 men each night," she says. "Most of them have no relatives, no family, no other friends to rely on. They would probably go back to the streets, they would be staying in some of the viaducts around here."

It takes $30,000 per month to run the shelter. Mario Martinez has been here two months.

"Some people need this - it's not like they are trying to live off-yeah they abuse it, but the ones that got the money they abuse it too, so it's not like it's just us," Martinez says.

Another hazard is that a Special Use Permit would have to be reissued if the shelter closed then reopened, and the chances of getting one are slim given the space was grandfathered in the last time a permit was sought, more than 30 years ago before it became prohibited to run a homeless shelter in a basement.

Related Topics:
illinois budgethomelesssocietyBruce RaunerChicago - Uptown
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