Tuesday, December 10, 2013

TEXT: Inside-Booster's Report On Center Crime

Here's the full Inside-Booster report about crime issues at the Center on Halsted. CWB referred to this story by former Chicago Police Officer Bob Zuley in a post last week.


Inside-Booster has been covering Lakeview news at the local level for over 100 years.

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Boystown's Center [of crime] on Halsted
165 reported crimes exacerbate 
community tension, undermine benefit

Criminal behavior next door portend threat to safety of new senior center on the block

BY BOB ZULEY

Errant behavior by visitors to the Center on Halsted (CoH) community center is exacerbating community tension and undermining the many benefits that the CoH brings to the community.

Inside Publications has learned that 165 incidents of criminal behavior, including crimes of violence, have been reported to the Chicago Police Department (CPD) as having occurred at the CoH, 3656 N. Halsted St., between Nov. 26, 2007 and Nov. 10, 2013.

The link between crime rates in the community and the CoH began in August when Tom Elliott, spokesperson for the CoH, told ABC7 news that, “… I can confidently say the individuals that are committing crimes in the area are not coming here for our services."

At a community meeting two weeks ago, Maura McCauley, the city's director of Homeless Prevention, Policy, and Planning, said, “We have no concrete evidence that social services bring crime to the community.”

But a Freedom of Information request shows reported crimes that include 32 batteries, 41 assaults, three robberies, 32 thefts, seven narcotics crimes, three sex offenses, and 38 trespassing cases.

Beyond these documented crimes, there have undoubtedly been many additional crimes in CoH that have occurred but were not reported to CPD for a variety of reasons.

According to the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications and the authoritative Crime in Wrigleyville and Boystown website, there have also been other calls for service in which police responded to CoH but that did not result in completion of a case report - and in the strictly bureaucratic way that the Chicago tallies crimes rates, if there is no paperwork then there was no crime.

These documented crimes are particularly relevant because of the high rate of overall criminal activity in the Boystown and Wrigleyville areas of Lakeview and the current community tension related to the relocation of the Broadway Youth Center (BYC) to a densely populated residential neighborhood on Wellington Ave. The CoH and BYC serve many of the same youth.
Loud, unruly, and potentially confrontational behavior precludes the meek and fearful from taking advantage of CoH programming and services.

The proximity of a senior citizen residence presently under construction on the same block underscores the importance of highlighting the crimes that have been reported at the CoH and how the potential threat to the safety and well-being of seniors is being mitigated. If nothing is done to fix this situation the City will literally be housing pray at the doorstep of their predators.

Begun as Horizons in 1973, the CoH opened in 2007 and is the Midwest's largest, most comprehensive community center dedicated to advancing and securing the health and well-being of Chicago's gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people with more than 1,000 community residents visiting the CoH every day.

Services include senior and youth programming, counseling, a state-of-the-art Cyber Center and computer classes, vocational training, and HIV testing. The building boasts a theater, gymnasium, meeting rooms, and a first floor cafe adjacent to the Whole Foods Market.

According to the Center's most recent IRS Form 990, ending June 30, 2012, the CoH reported a total revenue of $4,572,818 of which $3,836,048 was received in contributions and grants. Of this, $2,075,473 was received in governmental grants. With total expenses amounting to $5,070,645, it operated at a $497,827 deficit last year. CoH CEO Modesto Valle received $164,484 in reported compensation.

Of the Center's FY2013 operating budget of $6 million, 49% is expended on social services, 31% on public programs, and six percent on administrative costs. Of public programming, 41% is expended on career readiness, 23% on senior programming, and 12% each to the Cyber Center and community programs.

For the Center's social services budget, 61% is expended on HIV services, 18% on mental health services, and nine percent for youth programming that provides services to more than 1,000 young people from across Chicagoland in the areas of housing assistance, case management, crisis intervention, professional development, and leadership training.

It is the area of youth services that has drawn the ire of community critics as some feel that the CoH attracts violence-prone young adults from disadvantaged, gay-hostile areas of the city to Lakeview, a community well known to be particularly tolerant of gay and homeless persons.

It is the robust presence of a large GLBT population in the area that enable social service agencies such as the CoH, Howard Brown Health Center, BYC, and the Night Ministry to provide services to youth in need.

Youth programming at CoH consists of an after school program serving 250 GLBT and allied youth aged 13-24 weekly designed to support their transition to successful adulthood. Youth programming, budgeted at $1,031,952 last year, includes art and art therapy, recreational programming, and leadership development.

In a written statement, CoH spokesperson Tom Elliott told this newspaper, “Because [gay] people historically and presently face disproportionate levels of discrimination and violence as a result of their actual, or perceived, sexual orientation and gender identity, many patrons and visitors find that [CoH] is a safe and welcoming environment... while receiving necessary services for their individual health and development.”

Elliott adds that CoH staff, patrons, and visitors are bound by a “Code of Conduct” and “...has the responsibility to behave in a manner that is respectful and courteous and does not disrupt others or the operations of the organization.”

While CoH staff and hired uniformed security officers will work with police if necessary to detain individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others and illegal activities are reported to police, Elliott points out that the CoH does not disclose information or records about patrons to the public.

“Disclosing an individuals affiliation with [the CoH] could potentially put the individual at a greater risk of harm, especially when some [GLBT] people are disproportionally subject to higher rates of discrimination, violence, suicide, substance abuse, homelessness, sexual abuse, unemployment and other physical, mental, and emotionally disturbances,” Elliott explained.

“We will continue to work closely with the [CPD], our neighbors and partner organizations for a safer, more vibrant and prosperous East Lakeview community, and to ensure that [the CoH] remains a safe place for visitors, patrons, volunteers, and staff alike,” he said.

Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) told this newspaper that the CoH does not condone illegal activity and has historically cooperated with the police by signing complaints including some of the aforementioned police reports. “It is essential for all of our businesses and residents to cooperate with the police to make our community a safe place,” Ald. Tunney said in a written statement. He regularly meets with area social service agencies to ensure that they are being a good neighbor, taking accountability for what happens on their property, and address illegal activity in or around their business.

Lakeview businessman and 44th ward aldermanic candidate Mark Thomas said that not-for-profit service providers have become a huge business in Chicago but often cease to understand the community they're immersed in and need to take responsibility for who comes into their buildings.

“A lot of the non-profits don't monitor their youthful clients,” said Thomas. “Lakeview has always had a 'youth issue,' and non-profits must be responsible and hold clients responsible for their behavior including for what happens outside, beyond their front door. These organizations serve as a magnet to people in need of assistance, and we as a society owe our citizens health care. There's no question that youth are the issue. Are they attempting to address the behavioral issue?” Thomas asked. “Homelessness, mental illness, and drug use doesn't excuse people's behavior.”

“Lakeview is really good at arguing, not professionally facilitating the issue into a win/win situation,” Thomas observed. “The CoH belongs on Halsted St. but services sometimes bring problems. We have to get back to being a community and figure out a way to fix this, and not just name calling.”

While youth might be a component of the larger crime question in Lakeview, Thomas believes the loss of police through attrition and detailed outside of the district is equally as important. While the city is down 7-8% citywide in police personnel, according to Thomas, it is down 35% in Lakeview's 19th Dist. – a district that has a larger than usual number of retirement-ready officers.

On this point, Ald. Tunney is in apparent agreement. “We need to focus on the bigger picture and not just keep up with attrition,” Ald. Tunney wrote in his newsletter. “It is imperative to add more full-time officers to the CPD in order to have the necessary resources our city needs to provide an adequate long-term public safety plan.”

©2013 Inside Publications. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

31 comments:

  1. they say that they have all these great programs but i never see any of these programs being used by these kids....

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    1. Makes you wonder why they don't 'encourage' them to take classes if they want to stay in the Center. There has to be more than just "dropping in" and lounging in the lounge to the COH.

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    2. If we would stop referring to 30 year olds as "troubled youths" and as "kids," perhaps they would start to behave like adults.

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  2. They never really explain how these programs are judged as being successful. They're sort of phantom programs. I never see any results based criteria. Specific, verifiable case studies should be made available for people who have successfully moved through their programs. Unlocking the door in the morning isn't really a program. They sound good, but it's all smoke and mirrors. They're not really doing anything.

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    1. Exactly! I have wondered this as well. It seems to me, that all the COH really does is have a drop-in lounge, that attracts thugs and other idiots. There is also allegedly a computer room etc but I suspect that there are no "programs" that actually have a direct, measurable benefit. Then, at night, when they close, the "kids" leave the building and roam the area yelling, fighting with each other, beating up pedestrians, and robbing people.

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  3. Has anyone ever sought the perspective of the Whole Foods that occupies the same building as COH? What is the perspective of the WF manager regarding the Center and its customers?

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    1. From what I've heard Whole Foods is keeping a detailed account about their problems with the Center.

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  4. About 2 minutes in ...

    "The Individuals committing crimes in the area are not coming here for our services."

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKY2ulwavNQ

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  5. 165 crimes out of 6 years doesn't seem to deserve this kind of headline. That's less than 28 a year, or 2 per month... I bet if you ran a freedom of information request on other businesses, organizations and venues in the area you'd find an even higher number. But of course that would mean you could no longer use the COH as a scapegoat. And what does this number compare to the overall number of crimes reported in the community? This article is nothing but sensationalist and lacking direction.

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    1. well, why dont you file a foia and find out before you start assuming things to be as you would like them to be.

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    2. The point is that criminals are actively utilizing the "services" of CoH when their spokesman has blatantly lied and stated that is not the case. If there are this many crimes committed by these criminals INSIDE the CoH, how many are they committing throughout the neighborhood? The CoH was a good concept that, through horrific management, has quickly become a terrible neighbor.

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    3. Umm, the city wanted concrete stats and now the city has concrete stats. And that's the tip of the iceberg but since COH has been walled up in complete denial, the numbers are important nonetheless.

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    4. The City's Data Portal says Wrigley Field is the location of record on 144 police reports between January 1, 2009, and December 1, 2013. The count of 144 only includes crimes reported within the gates of the stadium itself.

      The 144 crimes break down this way:

      Assault-1
      Battery-32
      Criminal Damage-1
      Trespassing-47
      Deceptive Practice-13
      Narcotics-3
      Other-3
      Public Peace Violation-3
      Theft-41

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    5. Don't forget: hanging out in the first floor lobby IS using the services of COH

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    6. RE: Comparison to Wrigley Field incidents. To be fair, Wrigley is only open 81 to 90 times a year, while COH is open what, 360-365 days a year? So on a per-day basis, Wrigley has COH beat.

      However, Cubs draw between 2.5 to 3.0 million fans per year, so on a per-customer basis, COH beats Wrigley hands down.

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  6. 1000 community residents visit it everyday??? That equates to almost 77 new persons an hour. Seeing as how I go to Whole Foods at least 5 days a week (who needs to grocery shop when you live next door), I highly doubt this is accurate. The only time I see that many people going through there is during the Pride celebrations. I assume they are counting people in and out of the doors (which many neighborhood people, including myself) use to cut through to Whole Foods. They should look at people who go beyond the first floor. I'm sure the number is at least a tenth of that daily.

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  7. As the article mentioned, reported crimes are just the tip of the iceberg. Ironically these social service organizations and their apologists are claiming NIMBY, denying any link between street crime and their services.

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  8. Please. I have lived next door to the COH since it opened. The police are there EVERY SINGLE DAY. Got it? Whether the adult male is pushed down the block or runs away, arrests could be made AROUND THE CLOCK..get it??? Do any of you live on the block....no youth, possibly not gay, and NO PROGRAMS. Just a bunch of criminals waiting for an opportunity.

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    1. I agree, I don't need stats to prove what I have witnessed and experienced over the past five years. The big courtyard apartment complex on Waveland next to COH had to install security gates for its residents.

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  9. CEO Modesto Valle makes $164,484??? Hell, I'll do it for half of that, and run it better, with less crime. And 6% seems like a very low figure for the COH administrative costs.

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    1. I know of another one there living way beyond his means. I would think they'd be stuffing that $ under their mattresses but that isn't the case. He brags ALOT too.

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    2. The undeserved high salaries these "social workers" make explain why they fight so hard to defend their sources of income, even if it means they have to chronically lie.

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  10. After this, I don't know how any thinking person can deny at least some, if not, much connection
    to crime. What is the Center's ultimate mission anyway? Are their residents monitored at all?
    Sounds like it's become a flop house for vagrants and troublemakers.

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    1. To collect as much money for testing for STDS and HIV as possible (there's a HB clininc on Halsted across the street from FFC Gym that could do the testing for free as well- since Aris is owned by Howard Brown), other than that, its a over-sized day-care center.

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    2. Apparently the mission is to take thugs off the streets in other neighborhoods and put them on the streets in our neighborhood, along with providing them a multi-million dollar facility as a hangout/holdout. But they realized that they could get far more funding if they called it Center on Halsted instead of Thug and Gang Holdout.

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  11. "165 crimes out of 6 years doesn't seem to deserve this kind of headline. That's less than 28 a year, or 2 per month... "

    Really? 165 crimes coming from the same address? That's a HUGE amount of crime. This is no longer a gay community center. It's another crime embassy and a warming station for criminals in winter. All using your tax dolllars.

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  12. The rec room became a wrecked room. Anything not nailed down was stolen. Management discovered how hard it is to nail down a ping pong ball.

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  13. Well they just took in $45,000 from Comcast to support their "Cyber Center". They're going to teach them Micrsoft Word and Powerpoint along with photo/video editing software and how to set up a blog and use Twitter per an article in Windy City Times.

    We'll see if this helps!

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    Replies
    1. And the demand for YOUR smartphones will go up once they start organizing via Twitter.

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    2. I read that and cancelled my Comcast account today.

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  14. Them who? The security guard stops everyone at the stairs. Maybe somebody can film one of these "classes" , they can take all the money they like, I have never seen "youths" going upstairs and I am in the lobby daily.

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