Don’t Let the State Evict Chicago Tent City!
Give Us A Home Or Leave Us Alone!
By Chicago Union of the Homeless Campaign
Press conference October 20th, at 8:30am, Chicago
On Friday, Oct. 9th, eight days before the statewide eviction moratorium was scheduled to lift for residents of Illinois, the Illinois Department of Transportation posted an eviction notice on light poles surrounding the Tent City at 1101 S. Desplaines.
This notice informed residents that they must “vacate the area.” All items must be removed by 7:00am on Mon. Oct 26 or they will be subject to disposal by the state. October 26 is exactly nine days after the moratorium was lifted.
Yet the City of Chicago has vowed that no encampments would be evicted during the pandemic which is worsening in Illinois and nationally.
Therefore the Tent City at Taylor, Des Plaines and Ruble streets, Roosevelt road, and I-90/94, along with their supporters will hold a press conference and demonstration on Tuesday, October 20th, at 8:30am in response to this order from the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Tent City residents intend to make it clear to the City and the State that they are not going anywhere, especially when no effort has been made to give them a place to go — such as into permanent housing (which has been proven to be the most effective and cost-efficient solution to homelessness).
“We are pleading for the people; these people have nowhere to go,” said Jamaica, a resident of the Roosevelt and Desplaines community. “Just imagine 25 to 30 people living here and the State wants to do a project, and we are in a pandemic. So where are all these people gonna go? We are calling for help.”
The eviction notice states that residents will not be allowed to return until Nov. 2022 and is in violation of CDC guidelines against evicting encampments of the homeless and of the city’s promise not to evict tent cities in the pandemic. This community, which has already suffered two deaths in the past two years, and periodic harassment from city and state departments, was notified days ago it was to be driven out from its enclave to make way for the construction project. This will leave them displaced and dispersed, with their community demolished, even though workers and supervisors for the project on the ground say such eviction is in no way necessary.
In other, similar, recent undertakings by IDOT, the workers say residents were only required to move 15 or 20 feet back from the road for the workers to be able to do their work.
If the notice is to be taken literally, IDOT is requiring that residents lose the much-needed stability and support of a community completely for more than two years. They are being required to leave anything they cannot carry, to go wherever each one might survive for a night, without the protection of their former community or a reliable place to lay themselves or their possessions. These conditions make any hope of rising from homelessness essentially unattainable forcing them into a situation where only a day-to-day struggle for basic survival is possible.
Without being provided with an offer for housing, these soon to be displaced Chicagoans have nowhere to go and no options for themselves. COVID-19 is surging again. Millions stand to join the ranks of the homeless due to economic hardships and unemployment caused by the pandemic. Shelters are still operating under pandemic restrictions and are not accepting new guests (having already been full before the pandemic).
For all these reasons, Tent City residents have decided to take a stand and are calling for support from other homeless communities throughout the city as well as from anyone who supports the unhoused or those facing housing insecurity. They are also calling faith groups, tenant’s unions, and people involved in neighborhood mutual aid to come stand beside them.
They need witnesses and supporters as they demand that the State of Illinois respect Tent City residents’ basic human rights. They want the state to keep its own commitments to the unhoused as well as its commitments to follow proper COVID guidelines in its actions or to provide displaced Tent City residents with permanent and stable housing.
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