Thursday, February 28, 2019

Long-running Boystown youth shelter edges closer to getting Bucktown digs

A scene from "The Crib" | Night Ministry
The Crib youth shelter appears one step closer to leaving its long-time location near Boystown for new digs in Bucktown after a marathon meeting with neighbors of the proposed new location Wednesday night.

It was standing-room-only at the American Legion, 1824 West Cortland, where neighbors, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) and leaders from the Night Ministry—Crib’s parent organization—met for more than 2-1/2 hours.

The Crib hopes to occupy the first floor of this building at 1735 North Ashland. | Google
The Night Ministry has already signed a 10-year-lease for three levels of a building at 1735 North Ashland. Current zoning allows for the operation of temporary housing on the building’s first floor. The Crib only needs to secure a special use permit from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals. Night Ministry will use the second and third floors for executive offices and other services that currently operate out of the agency's Ravenswood headquarters.

Waguespack this morning said, “We are drafting a plan of operation with the committee and a one-year appeal process” that could take the issue back before the Zoning Board of Appeals if there are significant issues.

But, Waguespack added, his office is still taking comments on the issue before the board’s March 15th hearing.

A History

The Crib currently operates out of this church's basement. | Google
Residents who live near the Crib’s current home in the basement of Lakeview Lutheran Church, 835 West Addison, have complained for years about sexual activity in their yards, feces, and condoms left on porches, and Crib patrons sleeping in vestibules and on decks after being denied entry to the facility.

Police reports show a woman being groped and forcefully kissed by a patron of the facility in 2014;
fights in the street; a violent robbery parolee being sheltered in the facility; and a second violent robbery parolee being sheltered there, tooThere was the iPad snatcher who ran to the Crib and got arrested while waiting to be admitted. There are the two Crib residents currently in jail for allegedly robbing a man at knifepoint near the Belmont Red Line station last summer. One of them was convicted of “accidentally” burning down a 126-year-old Boystown home in 2016.

But, all things considered, things have improved at the Crib since the Night Ministry closed the shelter for about a month in June 2017.

Erin Ryan, senior vice president for The Night Ministry, told The Windy City Times before the closure, “We have had a couple incidents in the space—it's a small space and tensions were high...We had a couple incidents that made us concerned for the safety of the residents. We want to make sure the space is safe and that we review our policies and the way that we use it."

After CWBChicago ran a story last week about the Crib’s possible relocation to Bucktown, one of the shelter’s current neighbors was quick to offer her enthusiastic support for the shelter and its clients.

“I live a few doors down from the Crib on Addison,” Lindsay Trew said in an email. “I interact daily with the residents, as I rent parking from Lakeview Lutheran Church.”

“Going by the Crib is my dog’s favorite part of his nightly walk,” Trew said. “The Crib residents spoil him!”

The Crib is also “where a young man excitedly shared with me a book he was reading one night, and a month ago, a resident of the Crib helped me when my car was stuck in snow,” Trew added. “These young men and women have been nothing but good neighbors to me.”
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