U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s office Friday afternoon announced a $2 million federal grant to Connections for the Homeless.

The description of the grant says it will “facilitate the rehabilitation and expansion” of the Hilda’s Place congregate shelter at 1458 Chicago Ave. in Evanston, “providing an increase of dozens of beds to serve an area with significant needs to address homelessness.”

A listing for Hilda’s Place on a directory of homeless shelters says it “has room for 20 participants, who typically remain at Hilda’s Place for three months before moving into their own housing.”

Connections is in the midst of seeking approval from the City of Evanston for a special use permit to continue operating a shelter for more than 60 people at the Margarita Inn, a former hotel at 1566 Oak Ave., a request that has drawn substantial opposition from some neighbors.

Evanston How has reached out to Connections for more details about the Hilda’s Place project and to Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma whose 4th Ward includes both the Margarita Inn and Hilda’s Place for his reaction and we’ll update this story if we get responses.

The news release from Schakowsky’s office announced a total of nearly $27 million in federal grants for 15 different projects in her district.

The only other grant in Evanston was $1.13 million to Family Focus for renovations to its building at 2010 Dewey Ave. including replacing aging and leaking windows, plumbing fixtures, HVAC and electrical systems and making restrooms ADA accessible.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Representative Schakowsy, where is the grant/funding for the additional police that will be needed to address the increase in crime (to persons and property) this expansion of more shelter beds will likely cause? Many of these crimes in Evanston are perpetrated by criminals claiming to be homeless or they are not from Evanston (refer to EPD’s daily crime reports). They are attracted to Evanston by our continued expansion of social services.

    Or perhaps allocate grants/funds for a comprehensive concentration risk study of the impact on our city and Ward 4 specifically, of having so many shelter beds and other social services in a relatively small area (Margarita Inn, Hilda’s Place, Greenwood Care, Albany Care, Interfaith Council Emergency Shelters rotating among places of worship throughout downtown Evanston, etc.). Perhaps new shelter beds should be put near the lake, closer to Northwestern, in the Mayor’s ward, or Ward 8?

    Or perhaps allocate grants/funds for property and business owners who may face declines in the value of their property due to proximity to these facilities.

    Or perhaps allocate grants/funds to support a more robust plan to address the knock-on effect of the concentration of so many shelter beds in one area or city. Beyond increased crime and public safety concerns previously mentioned, other areas of concern include mental illness, addiction rehabilitation, secondary options for those expelled from shelters, and addressing those that are housing resistant (tent cities).

    If our elected officials and organizations providing these services don’t start thinking more broadly and strategically, the long term negative impacts on Evanston will be profound.

  2. I was excited to learn of the recent federal grant to Connections for the Homeless which will allow for future shelter beds. Four fellow members of the Unitarian Church choir sang carols to residents of the Margarita Inn last night. We experienced great Joy! Fortunately, there was “room in the Inn”, and both carolers and residents experienced warmth and comfort!

  3. I am wondering when do us tax paying citizens get some relief. I agree I want to see more money going to law enforcement. The volume of crime in Evanston is something I don’t think Ive ever seen before.

  4. Evanston elected officials are always eager to approve more shelter beds in the downtown area, but never fail to find reasons to delay the building of new (property tax paying) housing there. How about a new rule that requires the city council to approve 10 new for-profit/affordable housing units for every 5 shelter beds it adds?

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