A coalition of advocates for persons experiencing homelessness and unstable housing, on Aug. 28, filed for an injunction halting plans to displace persons residing beneath Lake Shore Drive viaducts at Wilson and Lawrence Avenues.
The Aug. 28 filing comes in conjunction with a federal lawsuit filed against the city Aug. 1. In that suit, the plaintiffs, Tent City Alternative to LSD Viaducts, as well as activist Andy Thayer, maintain that the city illegally denied permits to persons experiencing homelessness who wished to congregate in the pedestrian mall near the now-vacant Stewart School. That location, the plaintiffs maintain, would have been a visible location which persons living under the viaducts could move.
The city recently announced that it would begin repairs on the viaducts Sept. 18, and, according to the coalition, hasn't been forthcoming about any solution to house the residents. The injunction, if granted, would prevent their eviction without the city's finding them permanent housing; provides a permit to move into the Stewart mall or a similar, highly-visible area; or the case is resolved.
At an Aug. 28 press conference near the Wilson Avenue viaduct, Thayer alleged that Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office has been "churning out press releases" about Chicagoans experiencing homelessness but offering no real solutions.
"Clearly we've got a huge problem," Thayer said.
Resident Joe Murray described the difficulties he and his wife have had finding shelter as a married couple; they have no children, which hinders their access to various shelters.
"Everyone has to go out from under here, and go where?" he asked. "Does anybody care?"
Fellow resident Louis Jones said that he is a tradesman who has been looking for work. "I've never asked anyone for anything," he said. "I'm just asking for a push."
Jones noted that, once the city repairs the viaducts, the pedestrian way is slated to become a bicycle path. He said that, in planning that, the city was encouraging "lawlessness" by allowing residents to bike on the sidewalk. He'd previously been ticketed by the city for doing just that; he brandished the ticket as proof.
Chicagoans priced out of other parts of the city, such as Logan Square and Pilsen, also spoke at the press conference.
Moises Moreno, a housing activist from the Pilsen area, said, "This is not just a North Side issue, it's a South Side issue. It's a Chicago issue."
Thayer further blasted city authorities about the viaduct residents' plight.
"We're getting no help from this alderman," he said. "We're getting no help from this mayor. We don't go to federal court lightly."