City officials postponed a “homeless outreach” effort planned for Monday night in which Chicago Police and Park District security personnel were scheduled to root out individuals sleeping in tents along the north lakefront.
It may be coincidental, but the change of plans didn’t come until late Monday afternoon after I’d made a few calls to learn more about the “outreach,” which sounded a lot like a sweep or crackdown to me.
John Pfeiffer, first deputy commissioner in the Department of Family and Support Services, said officials decided they should give homeless individuals some warning before conducting an enforcement action.
The homeless people don’t appear to be the targets so much as their tents, which I’m told have been proliferating in recent weeks in the area between Montrose and Lawrence east of Marine Drive.
Pfeiffer confirmed the department had received citizen complaints about tents in the park, although I believe many of those complaints have been channeled through Ald. James Cappleman (46th), who pushed for police intervention.
Police officers in the 19th District had been instructed to inform anyone with a tent they are not permitted in the parks without a permit.
Police were told the operation would continue over the next several nights until all tents have been removed. That’s now on hold.
It’s unclear how many homeless people would also be removed—or where they would go. The plan was for the Salvation Army to offer them shelter, of which there are very few options, and none that the homeless probably haven’t previously rejected.