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LETTER Helping the homeless
2017-09-13

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Dear Editor:

I'd like to publicly congratulate Andy Thayer and other coalition activists who took legal action against the city authorities on behalf of the homeless who reside under the viaducts beneath the Lake Shore Drive at Wilson and Lawrence avenues. All though, indigent homeless persons residing under the viaducts beneath Lake Shore Drive at Wilson and Lawrence Avenue were recently forcibly removed by Chicago police, obviously with the support of the Alderman of the ward, James Cappleman!

It's good to know that there are LGBTQ advocates who participate in direct-action activities that bring visibilities to issues surrounding the lack of available affordable housing for low-income and working-class economically disadvantaged Chicagoan.

The pathetic "Out of sight, out of mind" public-policy solution, obviously supported by Cappleman, continues to remind me why I and 46 percent of the ward's constituency didn't support his candidacy for the aldermanic office in the first place! And the alderman's antics were evident as recently as Aug. 7, 2017, when many homeless Chicagoans were forcibly removed by the Chicago police; this only reinforces the belief by many that the 46th Ward alderman either doesn't understand the plight of the homeless or doesn't really care!

By the way, the 46th Ward alderman has a unique history of incidents that have many progressive voters detesting him—not only in his dstrict, but throughout the city. The alderman's absurd decision to temporarily stop the Salvation Army's Food truck from feeding indigent homeless residents earned him that distinction! Some, obviously his constituents, were residents of the Wilson Transient hotel, and they routinely gathered for a cup of warm soup in the parking lot under the "L" tracks at night under the Wilson Red Line stop.

After that publicity-seeking antic, I'm not surprised that Cappleman has been no help! And, I'm surprised that any of the activists interviewed by Windy City Times reporters would think that the alderman would feel any sense of moral obligation to assist anyone living in his ward under those viaducts.

Just for the record, I think many Windy City Times readers already know there is a history of Chicago politicians who were and are presently notorious for pontificating on the campaign trail about their concerns for homeless Chicagoans. Yet, they earnestly take as many campaign funds as possible during election primaries from construction firms, real-estate developers, lobbyists and any other entity that they legally can!

If affordable-housing activists are serious about issues adversely affecting the homeless, all they have to do is follow the money. Interested parties should take time to review public records; they'll find in many cases that the same Chicago aldermen who proudly and loudly commit themselves to the fight for affordable housing also accept vast sums of fiscal campaign support from large commercial real-estate developers and lobbyists who represent their public-policy interests.

Unfortunately, an estimated 140,000 homeless people live in this city in homeless shelters, tents, parks, underneath Wacker Drive and anywhere else they can find shelter. And, because of rampant neighborhood gentrification and lack of economic developmental investment in many communities in this city, homelessness is a sad reality for economically disadvantaged Chicagoans, and continues to be politically explosive for many politicians in this city.

Michael O'Connor

Chicago


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