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Night Ministry head discusses proposed Crib move
by Matt Simonette
2019-02-28

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The Night Ministry, the Chicago-based advocacy for persons experiencing homelessness, announced on Feb. 22 that officials are proposing a move of The Crib, which mainly serves LGBT young people, from its current West Addison Street location to Bucktown.

Officials cited space concerns as a key reason for the move; clients are presently eating, sleeping and relaxing all within the same room, and have limited access to shower and restroom facilities.

Paul Hamann, The Night Ministry's CEO and president, said that the organization had been searching for a new location since late 2016, when they revised their mission statement.

He called LakeView Lutheran Church, where the current facility is located "phenomenal landlords," but added that, "The space does have its limitations. It's cramped and we have about 21 young people a night, on mats on the floor, in the same room where they just got done having dinner. … We really have been struggling for years with space constraints. If a young person is in crisis, there is no place to go for privacy."

Client capacity would not be increased at the new location, which is at 1735 N. Ashland Ave. The new facility would also house Night Ministry administrative offices, and is located about three-quarters of a mile from the CTA Red Line stop at North and Clybourn.

Hamann said that officials searched at length for a new space in Lake View, and received extensive assistance from Ald. Tom Tunney ( 44th Ward ) in doing so. But such spaces proved to be too expensive for the organization. He also said that Ald. Scott Waguespack ( 32nd ) was helpful in preparing for a potential move.

The matter next goes before the City Council's Zoning Board of Appeals March 15. After permits are secured, a buildout would likely take about four or five months; Hamann predicted the new facility would be open by the end of the year.

He added that some neighbors in Bucktown had trepidation about the facility at a community meeting held the evening of Feb. 27.

"There has been some opposition," Hamann said. "We believe that some of that opposition just comes from us being an unknown. We also found some tremendous support. I was really moved by a 14-year-old high school student who got up and addressed the fact that we're located across the street from a park. They said, 'Where I go to high school, not too far from here, there's a park across the street—young people go to that park after school . Why is this any different?' … In any situation there are going to be those who are opposed. We're focusing on community engagement, and believe that we are really good neighbors and are responsive to community needs."

Hamann added that the move was "an unfortunate decision to make, but we had to do it. … We are dedicated to serving the LGBTQ population, both youth and adults, across the city, and moving The Crib out of Lakeview won't change that commitment."


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