LAKEVIEW — The Night Ministry's seasonal youth homeless shelter The Crib will now offer the service year-round thanks to additional city funding, prompting the organization and area residents to further collaborate on safety concerns before the weather warms up.
The Crib, which first started as a winter-only service in 2011, offers 20 beds to homeless youths every night at the Lakeview Lutheran Church, 835 W. Addison St. It is open from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.
Since the shelter's inception, neighbors have complained they've seen backpacks left in their yards, fights in the church's parking lot and young people sleeping on porches. The fear is that youths who don't win the nightly lotteries for spots in the shelter will remain in the neighborhood for the night.
"This is a NIMBY [Not In My Backyard] issue," Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said at a recent CAPS meeting. "It's an issue of perception of safety."
Tunney, The Crib and neighbors are trying to tackle issues with the police by holding regular meetings to discuss issues such as noise and fights. Barbara Bolsen, vice president of programs at The Night Ministry, said the organization wants to be a good neighbor.
"Any program that you get started, there are going to be some growing pains," Bolsen said. "I think we’ve made a real effort to work proactively on a regular basis and take steps to address those concerns."
One tip from the cops: Even though the Town Hall Police District headquarters is across the street from the church, neighbors who see problems must report through 911 — not by walking into the station. That way, the police have a record for addressing complaints, Sgt. Jason Clark said at a recent CAPS meeting.
"Now that this is 365 days a year, we have to make sure we have a relationship," Tunney said at the meeting.
The city's new funding also benefited shelters in North Lawndale, Logan Square and Englewood, for a total of 109 new year-round beds for homeless youths in the city. In 2012, Chicago had only 266 beds for thousands of unaccompanied youths, according to estimates from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
Because the youths often leave home due to conflict with family due to sexual identity, there's a perception that many of them come to Lakeview for its welcoming LGBT community, Tunney said.
"Our hope is there will be more shelters and more services," he said.