Evanston’s City Council Monday night gave final approval to a special use permit and an operating agreement for Connections for the Homeless to continue running a homeless shelter at the Margarita Inn.

Nearly 30 people spoke on the issue during public comment with supporters of the shelter outnumbering opponents by more than three to one.

The operating agreement vote came after Jonathan Nieuwsma, whose 4th Ward includes the former hotel at 1566 Oak Ave., won approval of amendments he said would strengthen certain provisions of the pact.

But one of those amendments — to prohibit Margarita residents from loitering on adjacent properties was deleted after Corporation Counsel Nicholas Cummings said it would be very difficult for a property owner to enforce a loitering provision on other properties.

The measures were approved on 6-2 votes with Clare Kelly (1st) and Tom Suffredin (6th) voting no and Bobby Burns (5th) not present for the votes.

Kelly claimed some alders supporting the proposal had conflicts of interest.

Cummings said three alders had sought and received advice from the city’s legal staff about possible conflicts of interest, but that “we only give advice.”

He added that the city’s code of ethics addresses benefits received from an entity by a council member and said that he was not aware of any benefit Eleanor Revelle (7th) had received in return for donations she has made to Connections.

Devon Reid (8th) said 17 ethics complaints had been filed against him on the issue, but that he received from Connections assistance to pay back rent that was available during the pandemic to any member of the public and that he didn’t ask for or receive any special benefit.

Burns, who some residents have claimed received similar rent assistance, did not address the issue Monday night.

Daniel Lauber.

Daniel Lauber, an attorney Kelly had encouraged the city to hire as a consultant on the shelter issue, said the operating agreement was too “loosey-goosey” and lacked clarity about what’s required in many provisions.

But Reid said some provisions suggested by Lauber were too onerous, and Cummings said the vast majority of Lauber’s suggestions were included in the operating agreement.

Neighbors opposed to the shelter have complained of a rise in anti-social behavior in the area and have argued that the shelter would damage property values.

But one shelter supporter, a real estate agent, said during public comment that prices for homes in the condominium building closest to the shelter have increased since it opened.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. The 4th ward tax-paying residents have been sold out by Nieuwsma and crew. These left-wing special interest groups have hijacked our local government, and 4th ward citizens will pay the price in the increase in crime, belligerence, and drop in property values.

      1. I could not disagree more.

        I am a 4th ward taxpaying resident for 35+, years. I encounter our homeless citizens every day. Every now and then, there is one who is out of control. I just think, this poor man. How can I/we help him? Thank you. Alder Nieuwsma.

  2. What amendments to “strengthen the pact” were included? Doesn’t seem like the story ever says.

  3. Sickening that an alderman got his rent paid by a group whose business he’d be voting on, and nobody did anything about it. What kind of mayor or fellow elected official (or city legal staff) lets that happen without speaking up or trying to stop it? It’s the most basic ethical violation, a child could understand how wrong that is. Cowardice and corruption from everyone involved.

  4. I used to be proud to say, “I live in Evanston”, but after last evening’s City Council farrago I now feel a sense of deep shame…

    Gregory Morrow – Evanston 4th Ward resident

  5. Greg —- It’s not “Absurdistan.” I prefer Bizarroburg, Loonyville, Nonsensetown, or Wackytown.

    Rest assured, the Margarita is just one battle. On the plus side – silver linings are so important – the mayor, several aldermen, the city manager, and city legal council have all self-identified as anti-Evanston. Ethical violations have been revealed and blatantly overlooked. Political ties to Cook County and its money train have all been revealed. The slogan of these imposters is “Evanston Last.”

    Only Kelly and Suffredin stand apart from this anti-Evanston crew. Yes, that’s only two aldermen but that means I only need three more, and I know where to start.

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