Uptown Tent City Residents and Supporting Clergy Shut Down Lake Shore Drive For 45 Minutes, Demand Housing

Uptown Tent City protest
Chicago Police confront protester at the protest demanding housing for Uptown Tent City Residents (Source: onenorthside.org)

CHICAGO, IL –(ENEWSPF)–September 7, 2017.  Residents of the Wilson and Lawrence viaducts (also known as Uptown Tent City), clergy and supporters from all over the north side shut down the southbound Lake Shore Drive entrance ramp for 55 minutes this morning at 8:35 AM, demanding that all residents of both Wilson and Lawrence viaducts receive housing before the city plans to evict them on September 18th, less than two weeks away.

Supporters of the residents blocked rush hour traffic from 8:35 AM to 9:30 AM, with tents assembled. Pastor Fred Kinsey of Unity Lutheran Church in Uptown, Mark Saulys, a resident of the viaducts, and Adam Gianforte, were all those arrested for blocking traffic.  Another resident blocking Lake Shore Drive, Carol Aldape, was taken to the hospital due to medical concerns.

Viaduct residents off of Wilson and Lawrence have been working with the city for over a year to secure permanent housing. The residents, many of whom are long time community members of Uptown, have been forced out due to Chicago’s rising rent and the lack of affordable housing in the area. They have repeatedly asked Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alderman Cappleman (46th Ward), and Commissioner of Department of Family & Support Services (DFSS) Lisa Morrison-Butler to house all current residents of the Uptown viaducts, but have yet to receive a meaningful response.

Since the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has proposed a redesign for the Wilson and Lawrence viaducts that would replace the sidewalks where viaduct residents currently live with bike lanes, tent city residents are left with few options. After the surfacing of the proposed redesign of the viaducts residents and the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) threatened the City with a lawsuit that focused on what they deem a “discriminatory redesign” of the viaducts. The residents and the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless gave the City until August 25th to respond with a meeting with residents, but shortly after viaduct residents received a 30-day eviction notice to leave the area.

As Louis Jones, a current resident of the viaducts, said, “We need them to give us a home or leave us alone — we are out here because we have no other options.  If we are evicted, there is no where else for us to go.  Rahm Emanuel, we need permanent housing for all residents, and make sure that this redesign does not discriminate against residents!”

Organizing Neighborhoods for Equality: Northside is a mixed-income, multi-ethnic, intergenerational organization that unites our diverse communities. We build collective power to eliminate injustice through bold and innovative community organizing. We accomplish this through developing grassroots leaders and acting together to effect change.

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