The Margarita Inn, 1566 Oak Ave. (Google Maps image)

Connections for the Homeless officials say they plan to seek a new special use permit to purchase and use the Margarita Inn at 1566 Oak Ave. permanently as a homeless shelter.

Nia Tavoularis, director of development for Connections, says city officials this week told the group that the city considers the old rooming house special use permit for the property, issued in 1974, to have expired.

In a statement, Tavoularis says Connections will continue to operate the Margarita Inn, now sheltering 61 people, including seven children, while working with city staff and elected officials to follow the process of applying for a new special use permit.

Betty Bogg, the group’s executive director, says, “Zoning is complicated and often takes a long time, but we are not deterred. Connections has worked in partnership with the city to serve our most vulnerable neighbors since 1984.”

She say the group plans to continue to work to address community input received at a meeting last Sunday where many neighbors sharply criticized what they said were disruptions to the neighborhood caused by people living at the Margarita.

Connections has leased the building for operation as a shelter since early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Before that, the building had for many years been operated as a hotel.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. A fact sheet from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says that there are three different types of interactions between homelessness and mental health: (1) Some health problems precede and causally contribute to homelessness, (2) others are consequences of homelessness, and (3) homelessness complicates the treatment of many illnesses. Of course, certain diseases and treatments cut across these patterns and may occur in all three categories. High percentage experience lifetime mental health issues., another high percentage experience lifetime alcohol/drug addiction those suffering with mental health some of them with drug/alcohol addiction. Connections in the meetings discussed statistics how they have been providing how many they have placed into housing. Naturally they require those percentage in order keeping federal and private contributions. Yet. What are the percentage of those provided with permanent housing actually successful in keeping from becoming homelessness again due to having mental health and drug/alcohol addiction. My concerns Connections need to implement rules of their clients that are required to participate in programs offering them mental health counseling, drug/alcohol counseling including AA/NA meetings. Volunteers providing tutoring in obtaining their GED. Job counselor working with them writing resumes and internet job search. Working with local businesses in providing opportunities hiring their clients. Especially those having mental health required taking their medication. To which Connections doesn’t require mental health clients taking their medications. If the clients fail to participate in their treatment for mental and drug/alcohol addiction including the other programs will not be allowed staying at the Margarita but providing shelter and another location at night. This providing the opportunity of those that are in need and want an opportunity of changing. By providing them with these programs they are constructively busy not outside 8n the community panhandling getting money for supplying their addiction returning back to the Margarita getting high living on easy street. Connections didn’t inform how many has actually overdosed at the Margarita. Their are those that are homeless just needing a break having an opportunity reestablish their self-esteem and confidence getting back on their back with a future. This is not being provided at the Margarita. The Margarita needs to be working with their clients more than just housing.

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