ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED HERE BY NADIG NEWSPAPERS ON DEC 1, 2020.
A new “Working Group on Homelessness in Jefferson Park” has recruited social workers to conduct outreach for the area’s homeless and began talks with city agencies about the possibility of installing public bathrooms at the Jefferson Park Transit Center, 4917 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Since the group started meeting in September, the City Mobile Health Bus, Heartland Alliance, and Chicago Coalition for the Homeless have visited the terminal, and attempts are underway to help find housing for some of the homeless, according to a press release.
The group, which includes about 30 members, is also in early talks with the Chicago Transit Authority and the city Department of Transportation about the need for a public washroom facility at the terminal where many of the homeless congregate, the release said. Area business owners have complained about problems of public urination and defecation near their buildings.
“As the pandemic went on, I noticed more and more people in need of access to bathroom facilities,” said Nick Davis, owner of Weston’s Coffee and Tap at 4872 N. Milwaukee Ave. “The situation was creating a public health issue.” He reached out to Jefferson Park Forward vice president Rolando Rodriguez, who enlisted input from others.
Those involved in the early conversations included Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce president Brian Nadig of Nadig Newspapers, chamber vice president Robin Taterka of Parkway Bank, chamber treasurer Dr. Cesar Lau, Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association board member Eva Skowronski, JPNA vice president Brian Wardman, the Reverend Jacki Belile of Eden United Church of Christ, 5051 W. Gunnison St., and state Representative Lindsey LaPointe (D-19).
The 16th (Jefferson Park) District CAPS Office and 45th Ward Alderman James Gardiner’s office also participated.
The group has implemented a “triage” approach to find solutions which are both supportive of those in need and the local businesses affected by the crisis, according to Belile.
“The goal is to execute a humane, person-centered approach to resolving the problems we all face in a time of increased homelessness,” Belile said.
Beyond the lack of public washrooms at the transit center, the group has identified other critical needs like access to medical care, food and warm clothing.
“Three volunteers delivered 12 donated meals during Thanksgiving week,” Skowronski said.
The group is meeting monthly by Zoom. Those interested in joining are asked to send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 773-655-4357.