'It is indeed a magnet for drug dealing and violent crime' Ald. Conway says
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Concerns about violence tied to homeless encampments in the West Loop are finally being addressed by the city.
However, some are worried the planned cleanup may only provide temporary relief.
Pedestrians said they have been apprehensive to walk through the viaduct on Lake Street near Clinton, houses a series of tents that make up a homeless encampment connected to instances of violence and drug dealing.
It is indeed a magnet for drug dealing and violent crime.34th Ward Ald. Bill Conway
Maria Esquivel, who was visiting the city from San Antonio, Texas, said she was on edge as she walked to lunch with her baby.
"I was a little bit scared," Esquivel said. "I... had my phone ready to dial 911 just in case, and then of course my husband on speed dial as well, just in case anything were to happen."
People who live there have been put on notice about a planned cleaning next week. The city has put red tags on the tents warning they will be discarded on Monday when crews come in to power wash the viaduct and several others nearby.
"Well, it has, I think, become clear to everybody that we have a significant problem over here," 34th Ward Ald. Bill Conway said. "This is not a regular encampment. It is indeed a magnet for drug dealing and violent crime."
Just over a week ago, there was a fatal shooting at Lake and Clinton. It was the latest safety concern connected to the encampments that Ald. Conway has been fighting with City Hall about for months, trying to get something done about the problem for the sake of concerned residents.
"Has people very on edge, afraid to go out walk their dogs, especially at night and knowing that they could walk into any type of violent situation," Clinton Street Lofts property manager Dave Gelfand said. "Has people really, really upset."
A man who resides at the encampment told ABC7 he plans to leave his tent home on Monday, but plans to return after the cleaning is done.
Lillie Banks lived there from April to September, but has since found an apartment, regularly comes back to check on people. She said she is concerned about what's next for them.
"Well hopefully they going, well some people come in to give them shelters and then some people are going to hotels, and other peoples, you know some people got family members that might take them," Banks said.
Neither Ald. Conway nor nearby residents expect Monday's cleanup to take care of the problems long term, but the hope is there will be more regular power washing and offers of help that can minimize safety concerns.