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Reprieve for homeless camped in Uptown viaduct

Last week, the city had told them they’d have to move so the area could be cleaned. Monday, workers from the Department of Streets and Sanitation swept the viaduct and picked up garbage, but told the group they could stay.

Residents of the Wilson Avenue viaduct were joined by supporters on Monday morning.
Residents of the Wilson Avenue viaduct were joined by supporters on Monday morning as they braced for an eviction that did not come.
Manny Ramos/Sun-Times

A group of homeless people who feared being evicted from a Lake Shore Drive viaduct can stay — for now.

About 10 people have been camped in the Wilson Avenue viaduct in Uptown. City workers had posted notices warning them to move for a scheduled cleaning of the area on Monday.

They woke up early to pack up because Chicago Department of Transportation workers told the camp last week they needed to leave the tunnel for good.

Instead, on Monday, workers from the Department of Streets and Sanitation swept the viaduct and picked up garbage, but told the group they could stay.

”We get to stay for Christmas!” declared Tom Gordon, the camp’s so-called mayor.

For the second week in a row the camp was forced to break down their tents and remove their belongings for the scheduled cleaning — something Gordon said usually happens once a month.

Gordon called it a small victory for the group, adding it was possible only because of the many reporters who also showed up Monday morning to report on the eviction.

At the root of the issue, Gordon said, is the scarcity of affordable housing.

“Last week they didn’t clean the bridge, they only came down here to kick us out,” Gordon said. “Give us housing or leave us alone.”

As of Monday afternoon the camp still remained under viaduct.

Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation workers cleaned the Wilson Avenue viaduct on Monday morning.
Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation workers cleaned the Wilson Avenue viaduct on Monday morning but did not evict the homeless people camped there.
Manny Ramos/Sun-Times