WBEZ | homelessness http://www.wbez.org/tags/homelessness Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Rules of the ramps: Surviving while homeless in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/rules-ramps-surviving-while-homeless-chicago-111207 <p><p>The City of Chicago does a regular count of people who are homeless here. The most recent survey puts the count at more than 6,000 people at any given time&mdash;though advocates say that at some time over the course of a year more than 100,000 individual people are homeless. Many of them are visible as they sleep in parks or panhandle on the streets.&nbsp; But they&rsquo;re still mostly invisible and unknown.&nbsp;</p><blockquote><p><strong>Photos: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/rules-ramps-surviving-while-homeless-chicago-111207#norma" target="_self">A tour of the hut where Norma lives</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>That changed for me over the past year, as I went out to meet some of the people who ask for money along Chicago&rsquo;s expressway exit ramps. I learned about their lives, and the &ldquo;rules of the ramp&rdquo; they survive by. We&#39;ve included the audio of some of their stories here.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bud.jpeg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Bud at the expressway ramp where he asks those driving by for money. (WBEZ/Linda Paul)" /></div><p>I met Bud about a year ago. He used to be a forklift operator in Bolingbrook and after he lost that job, he tried to hold his family&rsquo;s finances together through various remodeling and temp jobs. He struck me as a very unlikely person to be out here working the ramps in Chicago. He panhandled at the Kennedy exit ramp near Diversey and Keeler. He lived in a sort of mini-tent city under the Kennedy expressway.</p><p>Bud told me that &ldquo;rarely a day goes by&rdquo; when someone didn&#39;t give him two pennies for his efforts. He politely says &ldquo;thank you&rdquo; he tells me, laughing. Sort of his way of one-upping them.</p><p>Some of his fellow ramp workers report that if they get pennies, they throw that &ldquo;sh&mdash;&quot; back at the driver. But Bud said that&rsquo;s bad strategy.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to cause a scene,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Others will see that and they won&rsquo;t want to give either.&rdquo;</p><p>Plus, Bud didn&#39;t want other people in their cars to think he&rsquo;s ungrateful.</p><p>&ldquo;What am I going to say?&rdquo; Bud said. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re not giving me enough money? I can&rsquo;t get mad at someone about their money.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 22.3999996185303px; line-height: 22px;">Rules of the ramps</span></p><p>I started hearing anecdotes like this about a year ago. That&rsquo;s when I noticed that there never seems to be more than one panhandler at a time at any given ramp&mdash;which seems to suggest a <em>system</em> of some sort. So I started asking if there are rules that govern what happens at the ramps.</p><p>There was no science behind my little investigation. But it turns out there is a system of sorts. If you listen to their stories, you&rsquo;ll hear the &ldquo;findings&rdquo; of my study within the context of their complex lives. The rules of the ramps are roughly the following:</p><ul><li>No one &ldquo;owns&rdquo; a spot, and it&rsquo;s basically &ldquo;first come, first served&rdquo; at the ramps. But if you&rsquo;ve worked there for weeks or months, you have earned &ldquo;dibs&rdquo; on that spot.</li><li>Even if you consider it to be &ldquo;your&rdquo; spot, if you&rsquo;ve earned some money and someone else is waiting &ndash; let them on the ramp. Because everyone needs to eat.</li><li>Don&rsquo;t walk right up to someone&rsquo;s car. Don&rsquo;t ever tap on someone&rsquo;s car window. Don&rsquo;t intimidate or harass people.</li><li>If someone gives you pennies, hold onto it. It all starts to add up.</li><li>Don&rsquo;t panhandle in the rain. Drivers don&rsquo;t want to roll down their windows and get wet. You won&rsquo;t earn much.</li><li>&nbsp;Give the ramp a &ldquo;rest.&rdquo; If drivers always see panhandlers at a given ramp, they become weary and won&rsquo;t donate. It&rsquo;s called &ldquo;burning up the spot.&rdquo;&nbsp; Note: This &ldquo;rule&rdquo; is contested. Many ramp workers think it&rsquo;s fine for a ramp to be &ldquo;staffed&rdquo; all the time.</li><li>Asking for money with a sign is not &quot;begging&quot;. When you walk up to someone and ask for money with words &ndash; that&rsquo;s &quot;begging&quot;. Note: This &ldquo;rule&rdquo; is contested too.</li><li>If you don&rsquo;t want to be judged&mdash;and even pre-judged &ndash; don&rsquo;t&nbsp;work the ramps.</li></ul><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 22.3999996185303px; line-height: 22px;">To give or not to give</span></p><p>Some experts on homelessness advise the public not to donate to panhandlers. Nonie Brennan is CEO at an organization called All Chicago, Making Homelessness History. She never gives to panhandlers.</p><p>&ldquo;And I strongly encourage people not to give money to panhandlers,&quot; Brennan said. &quot;If somebody is interested in helping with the issue of homelessness, there are a number of excellent organizations that could really benefit from a donation and you can get a tax receipt and then you know where your money is going. And you know that your money is actually helping something. If you&rsquo;re giving to panhandlers you don&rsquo;t know where your money&rsquo;s going and you don&rsquo;t know what it&rsquo;s doing.&rdquo;</p><p>Last winter I also talked to Jim LoBianco, former head of homeless services in the Daley administration and until recently, executive director at Streetwise, an organization probably best known for the newspaper it publishes and its ubiquitous newspaper vendors. Streetwise is also a full-scale social service agency.</p><p>LoBianco is also convinced that, in general, donating to panhandlers isn&rsquo;t a good idea. Though he says sometimes breaks his own rule and donates a sizable amount&mdash;$25 or more&mdash;if he thinks the person is in real crisis and needs to immediately get off the street.</p><p>LoBianco says at a shelter, someone who is homeless might get access to other services.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The difference between begging on an expressway ramp and getting enough money to go into a McDonalds and buy yourself a hamburger, versus picking yourself up and going to a local soup kitchen run by charity, is that when you walk into that soup kitchen you&rsquo;re not only going to get the meal&mdash;you&rsquo;re going to be engaged by someone who has some basic case management experience,&quot; LoBianco said. &quot;And you&rsquo;re going to be engaged by somebody who could actually say, &lsquo;What&rsquo;s the bigger picture going on in your life? Why are you forced to beg on the streets? Why are you in such crisis? How do we solve that problem?&rsquo; No one is walking into a soup kitchen in this city without being engaged at that level.&rdquo;</p><p>But a number of panhandlers told me this is not their experience.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/tony.jpg" style="height: 464px; width: 620px;" title="Tony has tried using resources from social service agencies but says he has never been offered access to job training. (WBEZ/Linda Paul)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Take Tony. He has an associate&rsquo;s degree in business hospitality and worked for eight years as a sous chef for Marriott Hotels in Detroit, he says.&nbsp;He regularly stays at an emergency shelter and I ask if he&rsquo;s ever tried to get help from an&nbsp;actual social service agency in Chicago?</div><div><p>&quot;Yeah, I have,&rdquo; Tony tells me. &quot;But actually, all they do is refer you to a shelter. That&rsquo;s the feedback I done got from &lsquo;em. &#39;Well, this shelter here&mdash;&nbsp;have you tried this shelter?&rsquo;&nbsp;&nbsp;Like far as trying to find low-income housing and stuff like that &ndash; they don&rsquo;t do that. If they do, they put you on a lottery waiting list. And for some reason, my name never got pulled..&rdquo;</p><p>Okay, social service agencies &nbsp;have not, thus far, found you permanent housing, I told him. But have they ever tried to hook you up with job training&nbsp;&mdash; or an actual job?</p><p>&ldquo;I ain&rsquo;t never heard social service say anything about job training. Never.&rdquo; Tony says.</p><p>&nbsp;And he asks if the people who told me this know I&rsquo;m a reporter?</p><p>&nbsp;&ldquo;Basically they&#39;re probably telling you what you want to hear. When one of us go up there, it&rsquo;s something totally different,&rdquo; he advises me. &nbsp;</p></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/deedeecrop.jpg" style="float: right; height: 401px; width: 300px;" title="Dee-Dee panhandles in Chicago. (WBEZ/Linda Paul)" />Dee-Dee panhandles on the expressway ramps too. She&#39;s gone to a social service agency and says she knows very nice people there.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;[But] for you to get a place to stay, or any kinda help, it could be two or three years down the road,&quot; she said. &quot;And that ain&rsquo;t gonna help me right now.&rdquo;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><br />She says social service agencies are well-meaning and they&rsquo;ll put you on a list for help.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&ldquo;But in the meantime, what you gonna do? You gotta get out there and hustle&mdash;or fall by the wayside. I mean we can&rsquo;t live with no money in our pocket. I mean you get into emergency situations. I&rsquo;m a woman, like, I get my monthly like... what am I gonna do? Like try and run and find a service agency &ndash; &#39;Oh I need tampons right now!&#39; No. If I can&rsquo;t get no money out here, I&rsquo;m gonna go to Walgreens and steal me some tampons&hellip;. So I gotta do, what I gotta do. If I&rsquo;m hungry, I gotta eat.&rdquo;<p>Many of the ramp workers I talked to acknowledged that there are lots of panhandlers who are mentally ill, strung out on drugs or alcoholics. Or all of the above. And most of them also acknowledged they themselves had a substance abuse problem at some point in their lives. But several insisted that was no longer the case. Now they were simply down on their luck.</p><p>Were they lying? Probably some were&mdash;and some weren&rsquo;t.</p><p>But I know this for sure: I met some pretty high-functioning people on the ramps, many who had held jobs and hope to again.</p><p><em>Audio production of Norma, Ed, Bud and Steven&#39;s stories by Ken Davis</em></p></div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Follow along this week as WBEZ digs deeper into the issue of homelessness in Chicago.</em></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 22.3999996185303px; line-height: 22px;">A photo tour of Norma&#39;s hut<a name="norma"></a></span><iframe allowfullscreen="" height="380px" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://zeega.com/170427/embed" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 10:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/rules-ramps-surviving-while-homeless-chicago-111207 Chicago SRO owners say proposed city ordinance is 'hostile' http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-sro-owners-say-proposed-city-ordinance-hostile-110775 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/SRO ordinance.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-6a96fd4e-5c8e-a95a-a0fa-12b9a087e263">A new City Hall plan to preserve <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/slow-disappearing-act-chicago-sro-105836">fast-vanishing</a> affordable housing units in single-room occupancy (SRO) and residential hotels has some Chicago SRO owners upset.</p><p>The Single-Room Occupancy and Residential Hotel Preservation Ordinance, to be introduced at Wednesday&rsquo;s City Council meeting, includes incentives to induce building owners to maintain a certain threshold of affordable units in their buildings. There are few specifics about those incentives, but much of the measure focuses on financial penalties that owners would face if the number of affordable units in their buildings falls below a mandated percentage.</p><p>&ldquo;Essentially what has happened is the city wants to change the rules in the middle of the game,&rdquo; said Eric Rubenstein, Executive Director of the Single Room Housing Assistance Corporation, which works with building owners, operators and tenants to preserve SRO housing in Chicago. &ldquo;The properties are going to be dropping substantially in value because of the proposed ordinance, as now written,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Under the proposal, owners who wish to demolish or convert their properties to market-rate rentals would be required to maintain at least 20 percent of the building&rsquo;s units as affordable, or else pay a $200,000 &ldquo;preservation fee&rdquo; for every unit that falls short of that threshold. Additionally, if an owner wishes to sell a building, it would allow non-profits first crack at purchasing it and would require the owner to engage in good-faith negotiations with those organizations. If no sale occurs within six months of notifying non-profits, then the owner may attempt to sell the property to private developers.</p><p>&ldquo;The private market often moves too quickly for these non-profits to pull together the financing,&rdquo; explained Michael Negron, Chief of Policy to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, &ldquo;and so we wanted to make sure that there was enough period of time for these organizations to actually&hellip; know a sale is coming, and then work with potential lenders, work with the city, work with the state. There are different parties that could potentially help put together a deal like that, but they just need the time to do it.&rdquo;</p><p>The proposal would allow building owners to bypass this process altogether, and to approach the private market first, if they pay a fee of $200,000 on each unit for 30 percent of the units in the building. But many current owners fear that these fines will drastically undercut the selling price of their buildings.</p><p>&ldquo;The property values will have plunged based on the market being so restricted, that the only option essentially for a current owner when he or she is ready to sell is to turn to a non-profit,&rdquo; worried Rubenstein, &ldquo;and the non-profit could offer nickels or dimes on the dollar.&rdquo;</p><p>All fees collected through the proposed ordinance would go to a preservation fund, which the city would use to assist SRO owners with defraying the cost of maintaining, developing or improving their properties. Negron said, additionally, that the city already may have existing resources to preserve at least 700 SRO units through the end of 2018. He said owners may call the city&rsquo;s Department of Planning and Development to discuss rental subsidies from the Low Income Housing Trust Fund, and financing from TIF districts and low-interest loans, to maintain affordability.</p><p>Rubenstein said he and other building owners had hoped the city would employ more incentives than penalties to encourage affordability. He said SRHAC submitted a list of 15 suggested incentives for the city to consider in its ordinance, including exemptions from sales taxes, water fees, and the proposed minimum wage ordinance. Negron said many of the suggestions were impractical.</p><p>A broad coalition of advocates for the homeless, and low-income tenants around Chicago, praised the proposal.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s a great ordinance,&rdquo; said Adelaide Meyers, a former tenant of the Norman Hotel and affordable housing advocate. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s exactly what Chicago needs to maintain SROs throughout the city, because if we lose all our SROs we&rsquo;re going to have a lot of homeless people.&rdquo;</p><p>Meyers was herself displaced from the Norman Hotel when Cedar Street Co. bought the North Side property and converted it to upscale rentals within its <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/flats-chicago-developer-weighs-housing-affordability-debate-110475">FLATS portfolio</a>. Meyers now shares an apartment in the Rogers Park neighborhood with a friend, and with some rental assistance from her father.</p><p>&ldquo;I never thought that I would end up living in an SRO to start off with, but I lived in a few different ones for several years,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So I could definitely end up back in an SRO.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-sro-owners-say-proposed-city-ordinance-hostile-110775 Homelessness: One student's story http://www.wbez.org/news/homelessness-one-students-story-109823 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_kevin dooley.PNG" alt="" /><p><p><em>(This story is made for your ears. Push the orange play button above.)</em></p><p>Nathan Strain spent nearly all of his senior year at Hampshire High School homeless.</p><p>&ldquo;It was the beginning of November, and I was living in my foreclosed home in Hampshire,&rdquo; Strain, now 19, told WBEZ recently. &ldquo;One day I came home and the bank had changed the locks.&rdquo;<br /><br />Strain&rsquo;s parents had a messy divorce when he was young. His mother remarried, but his sophomore year, his step dad walked out. Eventually, his mom couldn&rsquo;t pay the bills on the house in Hampshire and moved them to Crystal Lake. Strain, who wanted to graduate with his class, commuted back and forth for the first two months of school, but eventually, went to stay in Hampshire, in his old house. Until the bank changed the locks.</p><p>&ldquo;Then I lived out of my car for about a week,&rdquo; Strain said. &ldquo;It was really cold though so I was able to ask around. And my old neighbor, his parents were OK with me living there and staying in his room. I already was already working two jobs. But I guess the main struggle was the fact that society has this kind of expectation that people already have someone helping them. I really had no one or anything.&rdquo;<br /><br />Strain said as all of this was happening, he was trying to maintain a 4.0 GPA and keep up with all the things you picture high schoolers doing: the musical, the marching band, the jazz band.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br /><br />&ldquo;You have no idea how alone it feels to go to a school where everyone assumes that you have parents who are supporting you, that you have income supporting you,&rdquo; Strain said. &ldquo;Nobody would believe me when I would say I don&rsquo;t have $10.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;What started happening was I started losing everybody,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I lost most of my friends. Most of the teachers who liked me stopped liking me because I wasn&rsquo;t showing up to classes anymore because I was doing other things.&rdquo;<br /><br />Those other things were things like filing taxes, repairing his car, finding his next meal.&nbsp; And a lot of that, Strain said, he could not have done without the help of counselors at his school.</p><p>&ldquo;I had to do the paperwork and the dirty work myself, but they told me what I would need to do,&rdquo; Strain said. He rattled off examples: filing for SNAP benefits, filing his taxes as an independent youth, applying for financial aid, getting fee waivers for college applications, helping him find food pantries.</p><p>Strain is one of 54,892 children identified as homeless during the last school year.&nbsp; A new report out today from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless looked at that number and surveyed districts, like the one Strain went to, District 300, found a majority of school districts are struggling to provide services to more than half of their homeless population.</p><p>Under the federal McKinney Vento Act, homeless children are entitled to access to early childhood education, tutoring, counseling, and help with public assistance, such as low-income housing and food assistance.</p><p>But federal funding for McKinney Vento has flatlined and state funding has been cut. The report calls on the state to restore $3 million to help districts serve homeless students and currently, the Illinois State Board of Education has requested that amount. But, like every year, the education budget must still make it through the legislature and be signed by Governor Pat Quinn.<br /><br />Today, Strain is enrolled at the University of Illinois&mdash;Urbana Champaign, studying chemical engineering. School is paid for, he tested out of freshman year, but he said the best thing is he doesn&rsquo;t have to worry about eating or losing where he&rsquo;s living.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m able to actually focus on just school,&rdquo; Strain said.<br /><br />He said he wants other kids in his situation to know there&rsquo;s help out there.</p><p>&ldquo;I would tell them it gets better and that they need to find the simple things in life that don&rsquo;t cost any money and to hold on to those,&rdquo; Strain said. &ldquo;For me, I don&rsquo;t watch TV anymore, I don&rsquo;t play video games, when I want to enjoy myself, I go stand in the sun, because I love the sun that sounds so stupid, but I&rsquo;ve really learned to enjoy the sun.&rdquo;<br /><br />And he said lawmakers should think about kids like him when they decide how much money to put toward helping homeless students.<br /><br />&ldquo;If I told them they should help me because I&rsquo;m a human being, and deserve to not live a terrible life, they would not turn a head because there&rsquo;s lots of people who say that,&rdquo; Strain said. &ldquo;But what I will say is, I&rsquo;m here in the best engineering school in the world, sitting in one of the toughest subjects and I wouldn&rsquo;t be here if it wasn&rsquo;t for the help I got.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;And all the people who say, you just have to work to get there are all the people who have never had to do it.,&rdquo; Strain added. &ldquo;I hate myself for having ever thought working hard is enough to be successful.&nbsp; Because it&rsquo;s not. It is not enough. You need to work hard and have a lot of luck. And I got really lucky.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a producer for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 10:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/homelessness-one-students-story-109823 Chicago warming centers: The options and the limits http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-warming-centers-options-and-limits-109470 <p><p><em>Editor&rsquo;s note: Our first answer to this question was put together while the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services was inundated with media and service requests concerning the frigid temperatures that arrived Sunday, Jan. 5. Spokesman Matt Smith was gracious enough to follow through with a comprehensive interview the following day. The current story reflects those comments and clarifications.</em></p><p>Caitlin Castelaz doesn&rsquo;t live in Chicago anymore, but that didn&rsquo;t stop her from watching news about <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/below-zero-temps-push-midwest-northeast-109464" target="_blank">the &ldquo;polar vortex&rdquo; that arrived in our region</a>. And, she said, she welled up with concern as her social media feeds filled with troubling updates and warnings. The former Rogers Park native thought about a fellow she used to pass frequently.</p><p>&ldquo;This guy &mdash; he was basically my neighbor,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;He lives under the train tracks for the El. I&rsquo;m thinking, Where&rsquo;s he gonna go? I&rsquo;m hoping he&rsquo;s got connections to go somewhere.&rdquo;</p><p>So Caitlin hopped on <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/" target="_blank">our website</a> from her cozy New York apartment and asked us:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What are the capacities and limitations of city shelters during the cold months? How can Chicagoans help out?</em></p><p>As we and Caitlin prepped for this story, we thought we should expand the meaning of &ldquo;city shelters&rdquo; and, after a little digging, we were glad we did. The homeless are particularly vulnerable to the cold temps, but the city of Chicago understands that others sometimes need help, too. The city offers warming centers to anyone on the wrong side of a cold snap; one important caveat, though, is that the city offers safety during the cold, but not necessarily comfort.</p><p><strong>Capacity</strong></p><p>3,000. That&rsquo;s the number of beds Matt Smith from the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) said the city has available to those who need a safe, warm spot to sleep overnight during emergencies. Smith said that figure comprises approximately 600-700 beds in the shelter system. The rest serve as interim housing.</p><p dir="ltr">According to Smith, the system has not reached capacity since our sub-zero stretch hit Sunday, Jan. 5. (Smith estimates that 96 percent of beds were filled the evening of Monday, Jan. 6.) He said the city could add emergency bedding for an additional 500-600 people if needed.</p><p dir="ltr">Both Smith and the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/oem.html" target="_blank">Office of Emergency Management and Communications</a> assured residents that no one who needs help will be turned away.</p><p dir="ltr">But the City of Chicago is not the only one providing emergency places to stay warm and sleep. Private organizations and nonprofits also offer spots to stay warm and sleep.</p><p>Kristine Kappel, who coordinates shelter services for Catholic Charities, wrote that as of Monday afternoon, &ldquo;At Catholic Charities in Cook and Lake Counties we have 287 shelter beds available and are at full capacity.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago operates a dozen <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fss/provdrs/serv/svcs/dfss_warming_centers.html" target="_blank">warming centers</a> throughout the city, many of which are offices or centers run by the Department of Family Support and Services. Notably, only the Garfield Center at 10 S. Kedzie Ave. offers overnight accommodations. Smith said that between Sunday, Jan. 5 and the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 7, approximately 1,500 people had used the city warming centers.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/caitlin-1.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Caitlin Castelaz feels we can better protect people by knowing more about how social and other services operate during emergencies, including cold snaps. (Courtesy of Facebook)" /></p><p>Anyone who needs a spot to beat the cold can also go to <a href="http://www.ccc.edu/" target="_blank">City Colleges</a>, <a href="https://www.chipublib.org/" target="_blank">public libraries</a> and <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/oemc/general/PDF/Cold_Weather_Shelters_Map.pdf" target="_blank">police and fire stations across the city</a>. According to officer Marty Ridge, who works out of the 14th District station in Logan Square, these are meant to be places to warm up and beat the elements for a short time; there&rsquo;s no food or drink served. Police can coordinate a ride to a longer term solution &mdash; be that a warming center or a shelter.</p><p><strong>Limitations</strong></p><p>Aside from the Kedzie location, the warming centers offer limited hours, though the city has <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/fss/supp_info/CommunityCenters/WarmingCenterFlyers/010214WCenterFlyerExtendedHours.pdf" target="_blank">extended centers&rsquo; operations</a> during the current bout of dangerously low temperatures and high winds. Some city warming sites are open only to seniors.</p><p>Smith said that during non-emergency situations, there&rsquo;s a gap between when warming centers close and shelters open, leaving people with a few hours to kill before a warm space opens up.</p><p>&ldquo;By extending those hours, they can leave a warming center at 8pm and go right to a shelter,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Or if they&rsquo;re in the shelter system &nbsp;they can stay to just wait it out.&rdquo;</p><p>Half of the city&rsquo;s warming centers are for seniors, and those offer hot beverages and food year round, but the other six sites don&rsquo;t. That limitation means some people who do find relief from the cold must eventually head back into once they get hungry.</p><p>Several WBEZ reporters were turned away from reporting from inside warming sites, but West Side Bureau Reporter Chip Mitchell interviewed Jerome Williams, who spent Sunday evening at the Garfield Center. Williams reported that the bathrooms were in terrible shape.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s urine all over the floor. There&rsquo;s no door, and it&rsquo;s not cleaned right,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not nice for the kids to be in there. No door on the stall. None whatsoever. They say there&rsquo;s work going on it. They said that a couple of weeks ago.&rdquo;</p><p>Concerning this complaint, Smith said the warming centers are &ldquo;not luxurious&rdquo; and meant to simply keep people out of harm&rsquo;s way. &ldquo;Given the fact that people are sometimes in emergency situations, maybe someone will have an accident and they may not smell fresh. The point is it&rsquo;s an alternative to someone being out in the deadly cold, and it is deadly cold.&quot;</p><p><em>(Update: On Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 7 we received a message from 28th Ward Alderman Jason C. Ervin&#39;s office stating they reached out to&nbsp;Fleet and Facilities Management and the bathroom stall door situation &quot;... is being fixed as of this point.&quot;)</em></p><p>Another limitation of the shelter system is outreach. While the city and other agencies attempt to direct residents in need to available resources or shelters, those residents sometimes do not accept the offers. Officer Marty Ridge said it can be an issue of trust; some have had negative experiences at a shelter or they&rsquo;re reluctant to leave all of their belongings behind. Shelters won&rsquo;t necessarily hold someone&rsquo;s shopping cart full of belongings.</p><p>The city attempts to educate people living on the streets about available resources. Smith said the city collaborates with various agencies to step up that outreach ahead of and in times of extreme cold or heat.</p><p>&ldquo;We can&rsquo;t force someone to come in off the street, but we&rsquo;ll certainly try to assist them and work with them to get them to the point where they will accept our services,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p><strong>So, what can Chicagoans do to help?</strong></p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><strong>Check on your neighbors, family and friends.</strong> This is especially the case with the elderly and those with disabilities. Make sure they have enough food, medication and any other necessary supplies, such as batteries or backup power. If you think someone in Chicago may need assistance you can&rsquo;t provide (e.g., a warm meal or a ride to a Chicago warming center) call 311.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><strong>Shovel sidewalks and curb ramps.</strong> It&rsquo;s common sense, but the longer someone takes to trudge from point A to point B, the longer they&rsquo;re exposed the elements and the danger from it. When you clear sidewalks and curb ramps, you help everyone get around more quickly and safely, especially those who use mobility devices such as wheelchairs. When sidewalks are deep with snow or ice, people sometimes resort to walking in the street, which presents additional dangers.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><strong>Donate warm clothing to local charities.</strong> It&rsquo;s never too late to donate new or used blankets, coats, gloves, snowpants and other cold weather gear. The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and clothing donation bins accept clean items in good repair, year round.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><strong>Slow down, look around, be helpful.</strong> Whether you&rsquo;re driving, biking, walking or gazing out the window at the person trying to dig their car out of a snowbank, it never hurts to use that niceness that Midwesterners are known for and lend a hand. &nbsp;</p></li></ul><p><strong>Resources for getting help or helping others</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/311.html" target="_blank">311</a>: Call 311 for all requests for assistance within Chicago. The city can offer or otherwise coordinate wellness checks on you, your neighbors, friends or family. You can also learn about transportation options to warming centers. (In an emergency, of course dial 911.)</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fss/provdrs/serv/svcs/dfss_warming_centers.html" target="_blank">Warming Centers</a>: The Department of Family Support and Services offers a dozen warming centers around Chicago, some specifically for seniors. During the cold snap in early January, the agency <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fss/provdrs/serv/alerts/2014/jan/extended-hours-for-community-service-center-patrons.html" target="_blank">extended hours</a> at many centers.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/oemc/general/PDF/Cold_Weather_Shelters_Map.pdf" target="_blank">Cold Weather Shelters:</a> The city allows anyone seeking refuge from the cold to go to their closest police or fire station to stay warm. Capacity varies at each building, and oftentimes workers there will help connect people to a shelter or a warming center if needed.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/snowportal/chicagoshovels.html" target="_blank">Chicago Shovels</a>: This site, run by the city of Chicago, tracks snowplows, allows you to lend a hand to those who need assistance shoveling snow, and offers other apps for winter preparedness.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://webapps1.cityofchicago.org/volunteerregistry/" target="_blank">Emergency Assistance Registry for People with Disabilities or Special Needs</a>: This registry allows Chicagoans with disabilities or other special needs to voluntarily identify themselves as requiring assistance during emergencies. For example, the form notifies first responders that a resident relies on specific medical devices or can&rsquo;t communicate verbally.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.ready.gov/individuals-access-functional-needs" target="_blank">FEMA disaster preparedness for people with disabilities</a>: The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides a helpful kit to prepare for dangerous weather situations.</p><p>As for what the city and others agencies might do if another bout of extreme cold comes our way, Smith said &ldquo;All of Chicago&rsquo;s cold weather emergency plans are a process of evolution.&rdquo; He said changes come from experience (like he blizzard of 2011 prompting <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/new-escape-routes-lake-shore-drive-93621" target="_blank">new turnarounds</a> on Lake Shore Drive), and his department will be reviewing how the city handled this particular emergency and adapt their strategy if necessary. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Curious City tweets <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZCuriousCity" target="_blank">@WBEZCuriousCity</a></em></p></p> Mon, 06 Jan 2014 18:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-warming-centers-options-and-limits-109470 Transitioning fierceness http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-12/transitioning-fierceness-109370 <p><p class="p1"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1466042_547063392045710_1828672922_n.jpg" style="height: 479px; width: 310px; float: left;" title="(Facebook/Kristen Kaza)" />&ldquo;When you have a population of street-based youth in a wealthy area, there&rsquo;s going to be conflict and tension,&quot; said Jacqueline Boyd, a co-founder of <a href="http://projectfiercechicago.org/" target="_blank"><strong>Project Fierce Chicago</strong></a>, a new organization aimed at creating a long-term homeless living facility for LGBTQ youth.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">Boyd&#39;s criticisms stemmed around the Lakeview neighborhood specifically, an area both known for its large and affluent LGBTQ population and its recent spate of derisive attitudes towards the actions and presence of LGBTQ youth in the neighborhood (especially those of color).&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">While the majority of LGBTQ services are in the Lakeview area, there is a dearth of resources on the South and West Sides of the city. Especially relevant is the more than 15,000 homeless youth in Chicago. Boyd estimates that a quarter are LGBTQ youth.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">&ldquo;They&rsquo;re trying to grow and develop in the same way that everyone else is, but there&rsquo;s no housing,&quot; she said.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">In order to combat these numbers, Project Fierce Chicago aims to create a new model for long-term and stable transitional housing for this population.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">&ldquo;The Lakeview area has not developed [resources] of its own accord an answer,&quot; Boyd began. &quot;If it was a priority for the Lakeview area, it would have happened.&rdquo;</p><p class="p2">Fundraising efforts are currently underway, including tomorrow&#39;s Slo &#39;Mo Spectacular: A Soulful Holiday Shindig! Featuring 18 performers including r&amp;b band Sidewalk Chalk, Psalm One, and JC Brooks, fundraising efforts will go to future Project Fierce Chicago costs.</p><p class="p2">Their goal is to house 5-10 homeless youth with the expectation of housing them and providing resources (such as mental health or job resources and nutritional guidance) until they are independent and stable, eventually adapting this model to other parts of the city. Organizers are aiming towards finding a two or three-flat in the South Shore, Austin, or West Garfield Park neighborhoods, areas that are close to public transportation and are generally supportive of this living model.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">Despite their articulated goals, Boyd makes a point of noting that their pursuits will adapt to what the youth themselves want and need.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">&ldquo;We have all of these visions and dreams for people in transitioning, but what that is going to look like is going to be directly related to what the youth want.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">Because despite beliefs about their station in life, they will ultimately have a greater sense of what is needed in their own lives as they transition out of homelessness.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">&quot;They know the needed to have skills in to have control of your past and your destiny,&quot; Boyd said.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2"><em><a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/410617875731906/" target="_blank"><strong>The Slo &#39;Mo Spectacular: A Soulful Holiday Shindig!</strong></a> takes place on Saturday, Dec. 14 at the Bottom Lounge (1375 W Lake). Tickets are $15 and the event begins at 8 p.m.</em></p></p> Fri, 13 Dec 2013 15:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/britt-julious/2013-12/transitioning-fierceness-109370 Runaway youth face increasing economic struggles http://www.wbez.org/news/runaway-youth-face-increasing-economic-struggles-107087 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/runaway photoSIZED.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The National Runaway Safeline says more youth are running away because of money problems.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Youth are telling us [their families are struggling] so if they are able to be on their own, it really will help that family as a whole, succeed,&rdquo; says Maureen Blaha, Executive Director of NRS.</p><p dir="ltr">She also said older youth are sometimes explicitly asked to leave the home and become independent, &ldquo;Which is not a choice I think they family would make if the economic situation was different.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">This anecdotal evidence is supported by a report the organization released about &nbsp;runway trends over the past decade. Youth contacting the safeline this year were more likely to mention economic problems, an increase of 14 percent over the past year and 56 percent over the last 10 years. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Runaway youth are also much more likely to end up in shelters than they were even a year ago, and have a harder time finding &nbsp;ways to support themselves.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Going back home may not always be the right solution, so it&rsquo;s even more important for those youth to be able to have job opportunities,&rdquo; said Blaha.</p><p dir="ltr">As a result of these changes, the safeline is now providing more information on job training opportunities.</p><p dir="ltr">Both youth and concerned adults, can call the runaway safeline at 1-800-Runaway or <a href="http://www.1800runaway.org/">live chat at the organizations website.</a></p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Wed, 08 May 2013 15:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/runaway-youth-face-increasing-economic-struggles-107087 Uptown man raised alarm on viaduct evictions before death http://www.wbez.org/news/uptown-man-raised-alarm-viaduct-evictions-death-106287 <p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/homeless1.jpg" style="height: 167px; width: 250px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="Jack King slept under the viaduct at Wilson Avenue in Uptown. Before he died, he told WBEZ that city officials targeted him and other homeless there with arbitrary evictions. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" />Just a few weeks ago, Chicago&rsquo;s Uptown neighborhood lit up with debate over whether it should maintain services for the homeless as it has for several decades. In particular, 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman and the Salvation Army disagreed over whether the charity organization should continue distributing free meals every day from its mobile food unit at Wilson Avenue and Marine Drive. The two sides say they have since patched over their differences.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/voices-salvation-army-food-truck-clients-uptown-debate-105945">WBEZ interviewed some clients of the food truck</a> while the issue was hot. One of them was &ldquo;Jack,&rdquo; who declined to share his last name but said he slept under the Wilson Avenue viaduct. &ldquo;Not everybody has jobs out here, so it does help. It helps a lot,&rdquo; Jack said, adding that he appeared at the truck almost every day.</p><p dir="ltr">Well, in a piece that ran over the weekend in the Sun-Times, columnist Mark Brown focused on <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/brown/19042742-452/homeless-evicted-from-viaduct.html">arbitrary evictions of the homeless </a>who sleep under the Wilson Ave viaduct. In it, Brown mentions the death of one of those men, a Jack King, who had left the viaduct some days earlier because of the street sweeps. King was found dead March 13 outside a health clinic on Wilson Avenue.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/homeless2.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: right; height: 188px; width: 250px;" title="King was one of many homeless who slept under the viaduct at Wilson Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. He said police took his belongings when they evicted him and others. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></p><p dir="ltr">WBEZ has confirmed that this is the same &ldquo;Jack&rdquo; we interviewed just six days before his death. During that interview, which we include here without edits, King vented frustration at treatment he said he received at the hands of police for staying under the viaduct. &ldquo;They took my blankets, rugs I had laid out,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Maybe they get brownie points for that, I don&rsquo;t know.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">King said he felt the hostilities began once Cappleman came to office. &ldquo;He don&rsquo;t particularly care too much about us,&rdquo; Jack said. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s trying to kick people out of here and there, and you can only chase a person that has nowhere to go so far. There&rsquo;s got to be something, you know?&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">In an emailed response to WBEZ about King&rsquo;s assertion that the evictions heated up under Cappleman&rsquo;s watch, Cappleman wrote:</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Since taking office, I&#39;ve encouraged the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) to check on the individuals living under the viaduct and in the parks on a regular basis. I&#39;ve organized regular outreach missions where staff from my office and the 48th ward office, DFSS, and I walk through the park together in the early morning to talk to these individuals to see if we could encourage them to come indoors and take advantage of the programs and services the shelters provide. We&#39;ve successfully found housing and employment for quite a few of these folks. The gentleman who died is sadly probably not the only person we&#39;ve lost from problems with drinking and other drugs. If this gentleman had taken advantage of the programs and services available to him he may still be here today. He&#39;s the reason why I encourage DFSS to continue to check on these individuals. Everyone deserves a warm bed a safe place to live.&quot;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Homeless3.jpg" style="margin: 5px; height: 188px; width: 250px; float: left;" title="Permanent signs at the Wilson Ave. viaduct give notice that the city regularly cleans the area. In particular, Streets and Sanitation employees will discard furniture that homeless may set up there. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" />King told WBEZ that he didn&rsquo;t receive meals from other agencies in the Uptown area because many of them required enrollment in a full-service program to help the homeless. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s a lot of circumstances I don&rsquo;t want to go into, [but] some people don&rsquo;t qualify,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I happen to be one of them.&rdquo; One of King&rsquo;s friends who sleeps under the viaduct, Gregory Guest, told WBEZ that King had an alcohol addiction.</p><p dir="ltr">According to the Cook County Medical Examiner&rsquo;s Office, King was discovered outside a health clinic at 855 W. Wilson Ave., not far from the viaduct. His cause of death was hypertension and arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Tue, 26 Mar 2013 10:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/uptown-man-raised-alarm-viaduct-evictions-death-106287 Alderman's plan could make being homeless more expensive http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-03/aldermans-plan-could-make-being-homeless-more-expensive-105893 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bradhoc/6949003508/" target="_blank"><img alt="Please help. by bradhoc, on Flickr" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/homeless%20chicago.jpg" style="float: right; height: 213px; width: 300px;" title="Please help. by bradhoc, on Flickr" /></a><strong>&#39;YOU CAN CERTAINLY UNDERSTAND THE ALDERMAN NOT WANTING ANYONE MAKING A BUS SHELTER THEIR HOME, BUT YOU HAVE TO QUESTION THE VALUE OF ... A $200 FINE.&#39; </strong><em>Sun-Times</em> columnist Mark Brown takes a closer look at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.suntimes.com/18636344-761/brown-we-cant-print-what-some-homeless-men-say-about-ald-capplemans-efforts-to-help.html" target="_blank">a Chicago alderman&#39;s assertion that he seeks to &quot;help&quot; the homeless</a>.<br />* <em>Chicagoist: </em>&quot;<a href="http://chicagoist.com/2013/03/04/cappleman_gives_salvation_army_one.php" target="_blank">We know Cappleman won&#39;t stoop to dropping live grenades in food trucks</a>, but ...&quot;<br />* City&#39;s long-term plan: <a href="http://eedition.chicagotribune.com/Olive/ODE/ChicagoTribune/LandingPage/LandingPage.aspx?href=Q1RDLzIwMTMvMDMvMDU.&amp;pageno=MQ..&amp;entity=QXIwMDEwMg..&amp;view=ZW50aXR5" target="_blank">No one left homeless</a>.<br />* Once-homeless couple: &quot;In the dead of winter, <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-bonzani-couple-20130305,0,4785364.story" target="_blank">we lived under a tarp</a>.&quot;</p><p><strong>WHAT&#39;S CLOSED? WHAT&#39;S NOT?&nbsp;</strong>Check the Chicago-area <a href="http://www.emergencyclosingcenter.com/ecc/home.jsp" target="_blank">Emergency Closing Center</a> for updates on weather-related shutdowns of schools, businesses and government offices.<br />* <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-chicago-weather-forecast-snow,0,6178175.story" target="_blank">Big storm targeting Chicago brings heavy snow</a>.</p><p><strong>A LEGEND DIES.&nbsp;</strong>Dawn Clark Netsch, Illinois&#39; first female candidate for governor, an architect of the state&#39;s constitution and a longtime champion of civil rights and ethics in government, is dead. <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/18644853-418/dawn-clark-netsch-iconic-illinois-politician-dies.html" target="_blank">Carol Marin has the story</a>.</p><div><strong>&#39;THE PACE OF KILLING HAS SLACKENED NOTICEABLY.&#39;</strong> Columnist Steve Chapman says Chicago&#39;s February murder total was <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman/chi-chicagos-murder-progress-20130304,0,7111293.column" target="_blank">the lowest &quot;in 56 years. Yes: 56 years.&quot;</a><br />* McCarthy wants to <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2013/03/04/chicagos_top_cop_wants_to_expand_ho.php" target="_blank">expand &quot;hot zone&quot; approach</a>.</div><div>* <em>Sun-Times</em> editorial: McCarthy&#39;s strategy &quot;<a href="http://www.suntimes.com/opinions/18625658-474/editorial-police-supt-garry-mccarthys-latest-strategy-makes-sense.html" target="_blank">makes sense</a>.&quot;</div><div>* Illinois&#39; senators propose <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/la-pn-senate-gun-measure-20130304,0,3759702.story" target="_blank">bipartisan bill to prevent one person who&#39;s allowed to buy firearms from buying a gun for another person who isn&#39;t</a>.<hr /><p style="text-align: center;"><span style="color:#a52a2a;"><span style="font-size: 20px;"><em>Suggestions for this blog?&nbsp;</em></span></span><span style="font-size:20px;"><em><a href="mailto:cmeyerson@wbez.org?subject=Things%20and%20stuff"><span style="color:#a52a2a;">Email anytime</span></a></em></span><span style="color:#a52a2a;"><span style="font-size: 20px;"><em>.</em></span></span></p><hr /><p><a href="http://www.chicagodetours.com/chicago-pedway-map/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen shot 2013-03-04 at 9.36.47 PM.png" style="height: 126px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Portion of ChicagoDetours.com map" /></a><strong>S</strong><strong>IGNS, SIGNS ...</strong>&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-cta-brown-purple-line-wells-street-bridge-construction,0,7158228.story" target="_blank">Confusing signs on CTA trains complicated travel</a> during the first day of this week&#39;s Wells Street bridge project downtown. The CTA says it&#39;ll be better from now on.<br />* <strong>Chicago&#39;s underground -- the downtown pedway</strong> -- gets fresh love in <a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2013/03/04/in-the-jumble-of-the-pedway-can-an-amateur-map-fill-in-the-blanks" target="_blank">two new maps</a>.</p></div><div><strong>SMACKDOWN: SIRI vs. GOOGLE.</strong> If you&#39;ve been asking questions of an iPhone, you might want to break up with Siri and instead chat up Google&#39;s search app. <a href="http://www.macworld.com/article/2021316/siri-vs-google-search.html" target="_blank">Check out&nbsp;<em>MacWorld</em>&#39;s head-to-head tests</a>&nbsp;to see which is <em>much</em> faster.</div><div>* Google reported <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2013/03/04/google-is-building-a-same-day-amazon-prime-competitor-google-shopping-express/" target="_blank">building competitor to Amazon Prime</a>.<br />* Steve Johnson: <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-talk-johnson-waiting-20130305,0,4722064.column" target="_blank">Smartphones take dread out of waiting for stuff</a>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>#TWITTER IS FOR #HATERS.</strong>&nbsp;A&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/2013/03/04/twitter-reaction-to-events-often-at-odds-with-overall-public-opinion/" target="_blank">new study by the Pew Research Center</a>&nbsp;finds those who Tweet tend to be more liberal than conservative. But it also concludes that, across the political spectrum, what stands out is &quot;the overall negativity.&quot;</div><div>* So Twitter&#39;s not great as &quot;<a href="http://daily-download.com/twitter-public-opinion-collide/" target="_blank">a snapshot of public opinion</a>.&quot;</div><div>* &quot;Who&#39;s Feuding Now:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2013/03/whos-fighting-who-map-conservative-fingerpointing/62741/" target="_blank">A Map of Conservative Fingerpointing</a>.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>&#39;I HAVE BILLS TO PAY AND CANNOT EXPECT TO DO SO BY GIVING MY WORK AWAY FOR FREE TO A FOR-PROFIT COMPANY SO THEY CAN MAKE MONEY OFF OF MY EFFORTS.&#39;</strong> <a href="http://natethayer.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-freelance-journalist-2013/" target="_blank">An exchange between <em>The Atlantic</em> and a writer</a> shines light on the state of freelance journalism these days.<br />* <em>Washington Post</em>&nbsp;website introduces <a href="http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/206152/washington-post-introduces-sponsored-content/" target="_blank">sponsored content</a>, letting advertisers create blog posts, videos and graphics for its home page.</div><hr /><p><em><strong>ANNOUNCEMENTS.</strong></em><br /><em>* Get this blog by email, free. <a href="http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=feedburner/AELk&amp;amp;loc=en_US" target="_blank">Sign up here</a>.</em><br /><em>* Follow us on Twitter:&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/wbez" target="_blank">@WBEZ</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/meyerson" target="_blank">@Meyerson</a>.<br />* Looking for the most recent WBEZ Meyerson News Quiz? <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/news-quiz" target="_blank">Here you go</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 05 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/charlie-meyerson/2013-03/aldermans-plan-could-make-being-homeless-more-expensive-105893 Indy preps for the Super Bowl's underside http://www.wbez.org/story/indy-preps-super-bowls-underside-95876 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-27/homelessness superbowl_puente.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-27/homelessness superbowl_puente.jpg" style="width: 630px; height: 354px;" title="Steve Skinner is just one of dozens of homeless people who live in downtown Indianapolis. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)"></p><p>Super Bowl 46 is a little more than a week away. This year the big game is being played three hours south of Chicago in Indianapolis.&nbsp;Indy’s pulling out all the stops to keep visitors entertained with parties, concerts and festivals.&nbsp;For some longtime planners, it’s like having your team about to score the go-ahead touchdown.</p><p>“So in the red zone now that we are, and approaching that goal line, all of the people that have been involved will physically be able see what we have put the fruits of our labor into over the last four years in this community,” says Diana Boyce, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee.</p><p>Boyce is busy these days making sure there’s enough hotel space and an onslaught of international media is taken care of.&nbsp;She’s happy to talk about the economic impact that the Super Bowl will have on Indy.&nbsp;But she hesitates when it comes to two issues: what Indy will do with its sizeable downtown homeless population and how it will combat a predicted increase in prostitution.</p><p>“Those are important issues that are in a community whether they’re hosting the Super Bowl or not,” Boyce says. “We are not the experts in handling any of those so we are relying on the experts to look for their expertise and rely on them as well as our public safety officials to address it as they do every day.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-27/diana boyce 2.JPG" style="width: 267px; height: 400px; float: left; margin: 5px;" title="Dianna Boyce, spokesperson for the Super Bowl host committee. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)">Indianapolis officials estimate there are 1,500 or so homeless people in the downtown district.&nbsp;They can be seen outside the city’s flagship Circle City Mall and upscale hotels just down the street from Lucas Oil Stadium, the Super Bowl venue.&nbsp;</p><p>One of the people living on the street in the district is a man named Joe.</p><p>“I just come out of prison and got paroled to the mission. I’ve been in prison since I was 15,” says Joe, who won't&nbsp;provide his last name.</p><p>Joe says he is worried that he could get rounded up by police as the Super Bowl approaches. He says&nbsp;it's been done before when other big events came to town.&nbsp;</p><p>“I’m sure they’re going to (happen). They can arrest you on anything they want. Will it stick? No, but they’ll hold you until whatever the event is over and they’ll release you and they ain’t no charges filed,” Joe says.</p><p>Moving, rounding up or transferring homeless people away from downtown may not be a wise move, says Michael Hurst, program director for the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP) in Indianapolis.&nbsp;“The worst thing you can do with a special event is displace those individuals who are homeless because if you displace them, if you take them away from where that they’re spending their days and spending their nights,” he says,&nbsp;“you are also taking them away from the social services network that’s working to engage them and get them into services.”</p><p>Hurst, a Chicago native, says the homeless tend to gather in downtown Indy because that’s where several shelters and other services are located. He says, for the most part, the city and its police force work well with the homeless and have a plan in place.&nbsp;Hurst says he’s been assured that police will not do any such round ups as the city preps for the game.&nbsp;</p><p>“But I also know that they are going to get more of that pressure the closer we get to game day. And, that pressure can come from a variety of business owners, convention and visitors people and all of those kinds of folks,” he says.</p><p>Meanwhile, Indianapolis Deputy Police Chief Mike Bates says there are no plans to harass the homeless.</p><p>“There certainly won’t be any forced relocation. We wouldn’t do that at all. Certainly we’ll address the issues,” he said in an interview with WRTV-TV in Indianapolis. “We will approach these individuals and work with them in cooperation with all the other agencies.”</p><p>Another issue on the minds of police and others is human sex trafficking.</p><p>Abby Kuzma, director of consumer protection with the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, is taking a lead role in combating this. &nbsp;</p><p>“Whenever you have a huge influx of people, particularly with respect to an event that is attracting men, that has a party atmosphere, statistically people know there’s an increase demand for commercial sex and that means a risk for human trafficking,’ she says. &nbsp;</p><p>Kuzma says victims are usually under-aged girls. She’s working with volunteer groups and others to get the word out on what to look for — usually, signs of abuse.</p><p>The Attorney General's office is working with state lawmakers to strengthen the law that punishes pimps and others who force young people into prostitution.</p><p>“If we strengthen the law, it will make it a lot easier to prosecute the traffickers and protect the victims and that’s what we’re looking for,” Kuzma says.</p><p>But there’s not much time left to do that, and with Indiana’s legislature dealing with divisive labor issues this month, getting a new human trafficking law adopted in the next week could be a tough task.</p></p> Fri, 27 Jan 2012 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/indy-preps-super-bowls-underside-95876 Homeless youth express themselves in 'Unspoken Words' http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-25/homeless-youth-express-themselves-unspoken-words-91020 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-25/1heart1soul.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Several groups work with Chicago's homeless population; <a href="http://www.1heart1soul.org/" target="_blank">One Heart One Soul</a> is a local group that runs programs to raise awareness on homelessness and other social issues. One of its programs, <a href="http://www.1heart1soul.org/events.html" target="_blank">Unspoken Words: A Voice For Homeless Youth</a>, had an eight-week stint at a shelter on Chicago's South Side. For WBEZ, <a href="http://fearnoartchicago.com/about/" target="_blank">Elysabeth Alfano</a> visited that shelter to learn how art helped the young residents tap into their pasts.</p><p><em>Music Button: Blue States, "Bare Bones", from the CD Man Mountain, (ESL)</em></p></p> Thu, 25 Aug 2011 13:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-25/homeless-youth-express-themselves-unspoken-words-91020