Will $1.75 million of new city funding solve the homeless encampment problem in Evanston?

Some Human Services Committee members expressed doubts about that Monday night, but they still voted 4-1 to advance the proposal to the full City Council at its first meeting in September.

The proposal was sponsored by Ald. Devon Reid (8th), who described as a response to homeless encampments springing up on Howard Street and in downtown Evanston.

But a memo from Connections for the Homeless, which would receive more than 70% of the proposed funding, indicates that the money would mostly go to replace pandemic-era federal funding for aid to the homeless that is now running out.

Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) said he wanted to make sure the new funds would address the people who are in homeless encampments.

“My understanding is we’re already dealing with a shortage of available affordable housing,” Burns said.

With long wait lists for housing for people already in the shelter system, he added, to somehow find housing quickly in the existing system for people in encampments “to me is not based on reality.”

Burns suggested the city might need to resort to building temporary housing for those now living on the streets.

A Pallet Shelter village for the homeless. Credit: PalletShelter

He didn’t specify what sort of temporary housing concept he had in mind, but such facilities have been constructed rapidly in Oakland, California, and other cities around the country.

Oakland erected its emergency shelters, from a company called Pallet Shelter, in late 2021, and by March of this year was planning to close them, to make way for construction of permanent affordable housing projects.

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) said she also was concerned about Reid’s proposal. “I don’t see these programs leading to actually getting some of these individuals [in the encampments] into housing.”

Ald. Krissie Harris (2nd) said she was not comfortable with the proposal to give $1.25 million of the funding to Connections for the Homeless.

She suggested focusing more on services that could be provided by city staff, saying she wanted to “create jobs for our city, not for other people.”

She also questioned the inclusion of a staff person at District 65 as part of a $200,000 proposed allocation to the school system. She suggested that interns from Northwestern University could do that work instead.

Just before the vote to advance the proposal to the full City Council, Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th) suggested that doing so would provide time for feedback and friendly amendments.

It’s worthwhile having all the council members “chime in on the financial portion of it,” Geracaris added.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Our City Council has lost its ever loving mind. This will do nothing more than add to the numbers of homeless and all of their problems. Sheer insanity!

  2. Evanston and its taxpayers can’t afford this proposal. I agree with Alder Revelle it just keeps them in a system.

  3. People are coming from far away to take advantage of our generosity. I overheard two police officers telling someone the word is out all the way to California. If you provide services for all people, regardless of their actual Evanston connection (grew up here), more people will come and the camps will grow. It happened in San Francisco. PLEASE do not replenish Connections’ bank account. They have encouraged the influx in order to boost their numbers.

  4. “The money would mostly go to replace pandemic-era federal funding”

    What is the plan then when this 1.75 million is used up? City Council will be faced with this same situation again, unless the homeless population significantly drops by then. I think they are fooling themselves if they think this is really a one-time expenditure. Technically, it is, but in a year or two they will likely be asked not to replace federal aid that has run out, but the City’s own prior aid money that has run out.

    Regarding having the city build housing, the Council should consider how public housing has worked out nationally in past decades, especially at the notorious Chicago Housing Authority which was taken over by the Feds for a while because of how badly it was run. And I am not implying that I have the answers here. Are there places where public housing has worked? What are the differences between systems that have worked one ones that have not?


  6. I don’t want to spend more money to attract even more homeless. We have more than enough already. I want to see them gone. I really don’t care what happens to them after they leave. The container village photo shown in this article is even trashier than the worst neighborhoods in Chicago. Trashier than the Robert Taylor Homes and Cabrini Green, both of which were razed because they were such massive failures. They were basically run by the gangs because the single mothers had no control over their kids. At least Section 8 housing has bathrooms with running water. These little sheds will still have people going to the toilet in the streets, and remaining filthy–neither washing clothes nor showering. None of this is up to the building code. Do we have to dispense with the building code to welcome more criminals, addicts and mental cases? Why is it our job to take on all of Cook County’s problems? We don’t have the resources.

    I would rather take in migrants who come here from South America. At least a lot of them are willing to support themselves once they get here, and are not going to be permanent burdens.

    Why not have the police drive people out who are trespassing? Is every homeowner legally and morally obligated to put up with tent cities in their yards? Should every condo open their hallways and lobbies to drunks who want a place to sleep? Where does this insanity end?

      They have no sense of what it means to earn money, pay bills, plan responsibly for the future. This is unsustainable. And yes, if they looked around to see what has already been tried, and if they thought about it a little, they would understand that it is actually an unsustainable reality. The fact that some of them in the sub-committee had their doubts yet voted to continue to flesh out ridiculousness to its bitter end is truly pathetic. Keep on passing the buck rather than saying no to ridiculousness. No one wants to tell no to Devon Reid because they are afraid of potentially racist repercussions. How is it that Devon Reid in all of his inability to function on any level as a responsible law abiding and bill paying member of society is bowed down to by his fellow alder people???
      Those in committee who voted to continue to ponder this ill conceived idea have neither common sense nor any backbone.
      Yet it is we Evanston citizens who have voted them in. No, actually, it is the huge chunk of the Evanston citizens who DID NOT BOTHER TO VOTE in the local primaries who allowed this to happen.
      More than anything, we need a GET OUT AND VOTE campaign.

  7. From the article:

    “Oakland erected its [3] emergency shelters, from a company called Pallet Shelter, in late 2021, and by March of this year was planning to close them, to make way for construction of permanent affordable housing projects…”


    Look at the map of these Pallet Shelter “villages”, the vast majority of them are in California, Oregon, and Washington – states where the homelessness is not only most overwhelming, but also most lavishly funded (in the ***billions*** in all three states)…

    Erecting such a facility here would only multiply our local homeless problem…

    “If you build it, they will come…”

    As for building “permanent affordable housing projects”, this is another Homeless – Industrial Complex grift – in California, these “affordable” units are costing up to $700,000.00 per *unit* to build…

    In Oakland, the local NAACP has had enough; our Evanston “leaders” should take heed:


    Chicago should get ‘woke’ (the way Oakland has, that is) – August 11, 2023

    “Oakland, California is among the most radically progressive cities in America, but a new awakening is underway there. Oakland residents have had enough of crime and they — African-Americans, included — are sounding more like what the media would often label “right wing” if not “racist.”…

    Emblematic of that change is an open letter sent last week by none other than the Oakland chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a leading Black minister:

    ‘Oakland residents are sick and tired of our intolerable public safety crisis that overwhelmingly impacts minority communities… We are in crisis and elected leaders must declare a state of emergency… .Unfortunately, progressive policies and failed leadership have chased away or delayed significant job development in the city….

    We urge African Americans – and Oakland’s White, Asian, and Latino communities to speak out and demand improved public safety… It is not racist or unkind to want to be safe from crime. No one should live in fear in our city…’

    Gregory Morrow – Evanston 4th Ward resident

  8. Ok. We have a problem with homelessness so here’s a solution. Let’s give naming rights to parks and the library. Pop eyes chicken could have Bent park. Independence Park would need something like Domino’s. Take the revenue and give it to ConnectionsNow we don’t seem to care much for our schools as the buildings are pretty decrepit So again give naming rights. Let the kids vote. Do they want to be 31 flavors, Dunkin’ Donuts, or Starbucks. Take the revenue and repair the schools ( apologies for the sarcasm)

  9. Connections for Homeless is a “business” and like any business, needs a source of funds to “Thrive”, maintain growth, and acquire more property to advance streaming more homeless into Evanston (homeless speaker at Council mtg noted he was from Chicago but demands continued service in EV). EV taxpayers must use heightened strict attention to see who votes to siphon funds toward this agenda item.

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