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Uptown Men's Shelter Closing a 'Massive Political Failure'

By Josh McGhee | September 20, 2016 8:59am | Updated on September 20, 2016 10:17am
 The Preston Bradley Center, 941 W. Lawrence Ave.
The Preston Bradley Center, 941 W. Lawrence Ave.
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DNAinfo.com/Adeshina Emmanuel

UPTOWN — An Uptown men's shelter says it will close its doors just before Christmas due to the lack of a state budget, a situation one of its board members calls "a massive political failure."

Over the last few years, the shelter inside the Preston Bradley Center, 941 W. Lawrence Ave., has been operating at a deficit as costs have continued to increase. The shelter has asked the city for additional funds to help with the cost, but the city has been unable to help, said Richard Ducatenzeiler, executive director of North Side Housing and Supportive Services, which runs the shelter .

"Until now North Side Housing and Supportive Services has been able to make up the difference but we no longer can," he said.  "Health insurance costs for our employees increased by $35,000 per year. Case managers' salaries needed to be raised, and expenses for rent, office supplies, food, beds, blankets, sheets and washing and drying equipment have increased."

The shelter, which provides food, showers and a safe play to stay will close on Dec. 23, according to a press release. The facility provides 72 beds for men with 24-hour access, 365 days a year. It aims to find its residents permanent housing in 120 days, according to its website.

"The city Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) told us that no additional funding above the current amount would be available for the shelter program. Moreover, DFSS indicated that it can't even issue a contract at the current level if the state budget is not passed by December 31st," Ducatenzeiler said.

"While we are saddened by the closure of the shelter, none of our other programs will be affected by this change," he said.

Clients receive intensive case management from on-site case manages, in-house services, referrals to housing assistance, employment services, medical services, according to its website.

In the past year, more than 320 different men spent a total of 18,000 nights at the shelter, according to the press release. DFSS will help the shelter's 62 clients transition into another shelter, permanent or supportive housing, Ducatenzeiler said.

"To not adequately fund this shelter and other services for the homeless is a massive political failure," said Dick Simpson, a board member of North Side Housing and Supportive Services and former alderman.

"It's a tragedy for the homeless men who have to scramble to find safe places to sleep and it's a significant hardship for dedicated staff members who will now be out of work," he said.

In June, the Board of Directors voted to close the shelter after the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services said it was unable "to process a contract" until a budget was passed, but the stopgap budget allowed the shelter to stay open.

"We have no extra funding. Without the state funding for the shelter, we are forced to shut it down until replacement funds can be found," said Ducatenzeiler.

The shelter was founded in 1983.

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