Only things colder than Sunday’s 7 below zero forecast are the Mayor’s, City Council’s and Dept of Family and Support Svcs’ hearts

An opinion piece

Thrilled with Uptown Tent City’s successes but…

The residents of the Uptown viaducts are my neighbors. It’s been great to see the community respond to the needs of the people that live there. It’s been exciting to see a handful of them housed, and others protected to some degree while they work for and wait for housing, with tents, tarps, warmth items, food and other needs.

It’s not enough but it is a start for advocacy. Chicago gov’t has dropped the ball though. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ald. James Cappleman, and their hit-woman Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler, have shown the world, far beyond their ability to lie about it, that they are cruel ‘leaders’ with total indifference to human suffering even death. Their any temperature winter viaduct cleanings may very well venture into premeditated criminal areas.

Recently as I noticed the Chicago City Council pass the Red Line TIF and the City Budget with unanimous votes, I thought the Chicago City Council really is a joke; even the phony ‘progressive’ aldermen. No wonder cruel and hateful aldermen like 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman get away with prioritizing inanimate objects over human life, corrupt to the service of the wealthy, to the detriment of everyone else.

Not one alderman has the guts to represent all people and stand up for the people that need help the most. Chicago’s housing, healthcare, education, and you name it, are being systematically robbed and a whole lot of people are suffering, including the people experiencing homelessness. All the aldermen can think of doing is voting exactly as the Mayor would have them vote. How shameful. So ‘progressive’, yeah… like fencing off encampment areas is progressive…

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality -Desmond Tutu

Every ward needs to replicate the UTC model

Don’t fight over Uptown. Expand the geography! Organize your community members including those currently and formerly homeless. Identify all the encampments and concentrations of people experiencing homelessness in your ward. Work with your local shelters. If you don’t have shelters, protest to get some. Cop watch if necessary. Photograph and video governmental cruelty. Fund raise for tents and other warmth items to protect your ward’s homeless.

Your neighbors experiencing homelessness need you to do all this. Chicago needs this city-wide.

The Mayor, City Council, and DFSS need to clean their own house, not homeless encampments.

Stand for human life please. Get your ward moving and let’s keep talking!


Official Uptown Tent City supporter shirts


Free with Tents for the Homeless donations

$20+ donation in person or $30+ donation online, shipping included.

UTC shirts are printed by our friends and neighbors at BellyAcres, the premium choice of compassion and activist groups. In every possible way, you are helping people experiencing homelessness. You are promoting the cause, directly providing tents AND BellyAcres profits go to support the Cornerstone homeless shelters in Uptown Chicago. Win-Win-Win.

  • To make arrangements to donate and get your shirt(s) in Uptown near the Wilson viaduct, reach out to me on our contact page (disabled)
  • To donate online and get your shirt(s) shipped to you, visit our donation page (disabled)

Uptown Tent City Shirts are Born!

Thanks for your continued support and caring for our neighbors in Uptown experiencing homelessness.


Housing is our right!
March for Affordable Housing and Homeless


Summer is over, cold weather quickly approaching, and thousands of people are still homeless. Many more are threatened with losing housing because of rent increases, real estate speculation, more regressive taxes and the gentrification of our communities.

    • Rather than put new funds into housing the homeless, the City has responded with illegal police harassment of the homeless, threatening to destroy their possessions, including tents that offer a measure of protection against the coming cold. It is insulting that Mayor Emanuel, under the guise of “cleanings,” wastes taxpayer dollars on this harassment at a time of alleged budget crises.
    • Rather than fund several low income housing projects (“SRO’s”) threatened with closure, Mayor Emanuel and Uptown Alderman James Cappleman approved a $15.8 million TIF giveaway (our tax money) to a politically connected developer to develop luxury housing with one bedroom apartments renting for over $2000 a month.
    • For lack of a few hundred thousand dollars – chump change compared to the millions Cappleman has showered on housing for the wealthy – the shelter at the Preston Bradley Center is slated to close just before Christmas. Our neighborhood has lost over 1000 units of SRO housing since Cappleman was elected, most recently losing 163 units at The Lorelei on Lawrence and 75 units at The Hazleton on Montrose.
    • Rather than follow the will of numerous City-organized community meetings to transform the old Stewart School into affordable housing and other community-friendly projects, Emanuel’s hand-picked Board of Education sold it to a private developer to do as they will. Another developer is seeking to buy, change the zoning on the building at Broadway and Wilson (where City Sports is), and build a 197-unit high rise, yet he won’t even say what the rents will be.

    As more low income housing is destroyed, the rents of all working class people increase, as more people are chasing fewer affordable housing – it’s simple market economics. Uptown is losing its families, its diversity and the affordability that has made it unique in the city.

    Alderman Cappleman and Mayor Emanuel, rather than representing the needs of the people who elected them have been totally supportive of the gentrification.

    Enough is enough! It is time to take action, before we lose our whole community!

    • Let’s raise our voices and together demand that the City put every dollar necessary into our community to keep it affordable!
    • No TIF funds and subsidies for luxury housing.
    • Community needs first! People before profits!

    Now is our time to move!

    Meet: Monday, October 3, 5:30 PM – Wilson Avenue viaduct by Lake Shore Drive.
    March and Action to follow

    Facebook Event:

    North Side Action for Justice, Uptown Tent City Organizers, Gay Liberation Network

Uptown Homeless Shelter at Risk of Closing


June 30, 2016
By Ryne Poelker

A 72 bed shelter in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago is at risk of closing due to the Illinois Governor and State Legislator failing to pass a budget. Located in the People’s Church at 941 W Lawrence Avenue, the shelter is run by the Interim Housing Program of North Side Housing and Supportive Services. The executive director and board have stated that they will have to close the facility if the state does not pass a budget by July 31st.

The shelter is open 365 days a year; and in the past year, more than 320 different men spent a total of 18,000 nights at the shelter even during the year’s coldest most brutal months. Hundreds of Uptown’s homeless have had to sleep outside this past winter. With another large shelter closing due to a lack of priorities by the people in charge of our state, scores of more people will be sleeping outside in tents or on the bare ground.

If the shelter closes, this will also have an effect on the other services and programs that are managed out of the building, The Preston Bradley Center. They will be adversely impacted or will cease to exist if the shelter falls through. Flats Chicago, a high-income developer known for flipping and displacing buildings in the area, have called the church over a year ago asking them to sell the property. Presumably, they are once again interested in making another community institution inaccessible and unaffordable for the majority of existing residents in the area. As of now the church has no intention of selling, but the closure of the shelter and their services will certainly impact their financing and put the entire community center at risk.

If Mayor Emanuel and Alderman Cappleman intend to be sincere on their pilot program and putting people into housing, then certainly they could try to prevent several hundred more people from sleeping outside. There’s little room for excuses for not providing a small amount of money to keep the shelter running when they recently voted to give a luxury housing developer a $16 million TIF and a massive tax break until 2034. About 2% or less of the money they gave to a nearby developer would be enough to keep the facility afloat. Their pilot program, though mere political theatre from the beginning, will be virtually useless if they can’t provide a small fraction of money towards keeping hundreds of more people in a shelter from sleeping outside.

Though the city could step in and save the shelter, blame is also on the state for this fiasco. While we have a universally hated Republican governor instituting a coup d’état on the state, most Democrats are also calling for compromises on cuts that will still adversely impact homeless services, mental healthcare and affordable housing options. As of now, they are providing little to no alternative to Republicans by not calling for aggressive enough taxes on those at the very top of the income brackets.

It should also be said that there are those here at the neighborhood level that could take some notice. Two of Ald. Cappleman’s top donors and very staunch supporters, James and Catherine Denny of Uptown Recording, have given both Governor Rauner and the Illinois Republican Party tens of thousands of dollars. While Cappleman loves to portray himself as a progressive, one was to wonder why hard right conservatives are giving him so much money. Not only are they giving him thousands, but they are some of his very top donors. What is he doing here at the neighborhood level that makes him so attractive to such people? If he wishes to distance himself from the causes of such extreme budget actions on the most vulnerable of our community, then perhaps he could donate back the campaign money these individuals have given him towards the shelter on the brink of closure instead. Just a thought.

Donate to the church shelter here to keep them open long enough for a budget to pass:

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