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Kedzie Underpass Homeless Woman Pens Online Letter to Avondale

By Darryl Holliday | December 1, 2014 8:43am
 The sloped barriers have been shortened and redesigned with smaller angles, according to a revised plan.
Avondale Anti-homeless Construction
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AVONDALE — An online plea from a woman living at the Belmont and Kedzie underpass tugged at the neighborhood’s heartstrings ahead of the Thanksgiving weekend.

In the message, simply titled “Bridge,” Teri Sanchez puts her feelings on living at a decadelong homeless encampment in Avondale into perspective for residents on the popular online meeting spot, Everyblock.

The conversation was posted Nov. 20, but talk of it stretched throughout the weekend.

“I unfortunately am one of those homeless people who live under that bridge. I mean no harm to anyone especially the people who reside there on Kedzie and on Sawyer. I would like to tell anyone who is interested that we do not want to be there anymore that you want us there,” the post read.

"We mean no harm and we try to respect the community and all the people who pass through on a daily basis. Don't be scared of us. Try to keep an open mind,” it continued.

A group of up to a dozen men and women call the Avondale underpass home each night, but many were temporarily uprooted last summer when a series of 5½-foot high, steepled structures were built between the underpass support columns — formerly a set of flat surfaces about the size of a twin bed.

Construction came to an abrupt stop in June, when the height of the tall oblique structures were likened to the creation of a tunnel at the well-traveled underpass. The structures were built to create “a less comfortable sleeping arrangement” at the site at a cost of about $42,000.

Darryl Holliday discusses the project's future:

“Notice that when you do pass through that we try very hard to keep it as clean as we can; we usually don't speak unless spoken to, and we never ask for anything,” Sanchez’s post continued.

“If anyone would just reach out and ask they would know that we are harmless and we are just as afraid as you are … For just a minute put yourself in our shoes and maybe do for us what you would want someone to do for you if you were in our position. It absolutely is not as easy as it sounds.”

The post had received 68 “thanks” and 36 comments as of Monday morning, both higher-than-average numbers for the online community hub.

Many of the comments suggest local organizations where those without food or a warm home can find both, including Hands to Help, which meets Wednesdays at St. John's Episcopal Church at Byron Street and Kostner Avenue to assist with housing and transportation; Cornerstone Community Outreach, 4628 N. Clifton Ave.; and Goldie's Place, 5705 N. Lincoln Ave., which provides services to the homeless, including dental treatment and employment help.

The full message from Sanchez can be found here.

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