Evanston City Manager Luke Stowe tells Evanston Now that housing has been found for a homeless person who’d been camping on a downtown street corner this summer and the encampment site was cleared on Thursday.

A closeup of the freshly cleared encampment area on Thursday. Credit: Joe Rocheleau

Abdul H. Muhammad had complained about his situation during public comment at Monday night’s Human Services Committee meeting.

Abdul Muhammad, speaking during public comment at Monday night’s Human Services Committee meeting.

Stowe says city staff “identified a housing solution in collaboration with Mr. Muhammad on Tuesday, and he moved into that option on Wednesday.”

Muhammad, Stowe adds, “granted the city permission to remove his items, which occurred on Thursday.”

Stowe says the city “is actively working with partners” to find a similar solution for a much larger encampment at the Howard Street CTA station and for a couple of smaller encampments around the city.

Evanston’s clearance of the Clark and Benson encampment follows by one day the issuance of audit report by the Chicago Inspector General’s office which generally praised that city’s outreach to encampments of people experiencing homelessness.

Stowe says, “The process in Chicago considers dignity and respect, and we follow a similar process in Evanston. Our goal has always been to resolve any encampments in a safe, humane and legal manner.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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    1. Evanston’s not the problem — it’s all the other municipalities who don’t give a s–t.

  1. I am truly happy for the person. Will this set a precedent? Will we see others trying to do the same to get housing? It’s a tough situation! What is the actual solution to address the problem of homelessness and the migration to Evanston?

    1. Silas makes a very good point. The double-standard is not fair and sets a precedent. If one person does not have to follow the rules, why should anyone else?
      Hard working, middle-class are being priced out of Evanston while the homeless are given white glove treatment.
      Connections is not helping to mitigate this problem in Evanston, instead they are exacerbating it.
      Enough is enough.

  2. According to the city manager, Abdul Muhammad “granted permission” for the city to remove his stuff?!?!

    So now, some random dude is in charge of what can and cannot be put on public space?

    This is good to know. The next time I want to store my private belongings on public space–say, my car–I can go ahead and do it without consequence. If the city tows my car for not paying the meter, I will just go to the hearing and say, “Unlike, Muhammad, I didn’t give them permission to remove my personal item from the public right-of-way.”

      1. All I ask is the same respect when I contest the city towing my car.

        This guy has been occupying public space for weeks without having the city enforce the laws prohibiting his actions.

        I get a $50 fine when I park my car too long in public space without paying.

        Fairness would dictate that I get the same treatment as Muhammad.

        1. Obviously a car is different than a human. If you can’t tell the difference than that is a problem.

          1. Please see my original post. My concern is that the city is apparently deferring to owners of property who deposit it on public space to grant permission to the city to remove it.

            Muhammad basically took over two bike racks for weeks. If I left a bike attached to the same rack for weeks the city would confiscate it without my permission.

            Why does this person get special approval and rights when it comes to storing his private property in public space?

            If Muhammad wants to sit there all day, as long as he is not breaking the law that is fine.

            The problem is leaving his stuff all around and the city apparently giving him veto power over whether it should be removed, which the city can certainly do based on public safety ordinances

  3. Once word spreads among the Chicago homeless community about Evanston’s policies, well it’s only a short el ride from downtown…

  4. This man assaulted my friend — there is a court date coming up. I also personally saw him raving and chasing a woman shouting expletives at her. This is not a man who just lost a job and was down on his luck, as so many people who shame neighbors as “NIMBYS” want you to believe. He clearly has untreated and severe mental illness. He was a danger to my friend who, luckily, was literally able to outrun him. But likely also a danger to himself. If anything is to be learned from this; it is that we are paying so much funding to Connections for the Homeless for outreach foolishly and wastefully. Our City Staff handled this issue with discretion and professionalism, without begging every day on social media for donations while taking property off the very tax roll that funds these services.

  5. We should all be thankful that our city staff was successful in this effort, since Connections for the Homeless and Trilogy dropped the ball with this individual. Think about that when a council member proposes giving even more taxpayer funding to Connections.

    This individual is unfortunately one of the many who are sleeping on our streets in various forms. The city staff has a lot of work to do, and we should all support them in this effort.

    One way residents and visitors can help, is to not give these individuals material objects, that they often hoard and collect and create deplorable conditions for themselves, and for our city. This enables them to continue a dangerous and damaging lifestyle. Your money would be better spent donating to a worthy cause that has the expertise to truly determine what help is necessary.

    Yes, it’s great that that this individual has found housing, but it’s even greater that this proven threat to our public safety is no longer encamped on our streets.

    1. The odds that this new housing situation will last for him are low. If he continues to act militant and crazy, and move mountains of trash in, he’ll soon be evicted.

      A lot of homeless are “unhoused” because they don’t know how to act. Even their own families don’t want to take them in because nobody wants them around. If you rant at people, make demands, trash things up with mountains of junk, and keep drinking and getting high…how long will anybody want you around? How long before nobody respects you?

      I remember one homeless woman not only demanding that I take her into my home, but also dictating how I was to live, and expecting to be my boss. Needless to say, this never went anywhere.

  6. How about a “lottery” system? Say, a hundred lucky people get apartments for five years, rent free.

  7. This man followed me, yelled at me, and threatened me for nearly a block as I tried to get to a doctor’s appointment.

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