A group of Evanstonians who live near the Margarita Inn homeless shelter have proposed an alternative “Good Neighbor” agreement to the one signed earlier this year by Mayor Daniel Biss.

The neighbors say the original agreement for the shelter at 1566 Oak Ave. is toothless.

Their alternative proposed agreement has at least three dozen additional provisions, including:

  • Limiting the building’s capacity to 30 homeless residents. (The current capacity is 70 persons.)
  • Requiring that any person accepted for residence at the Margarita has a documented history of having lived in a house, condo or apartment within Evanston for at least a year, and that priority be given to children enrolled in Evanston schools.
  • Limit residents’ stay at the Margarita to no longer than 15 months.
  • Separate unaccompanied men from women and children, either by floor or by some other partition.
  • Install cameras on every floor and in common areas.
  • Provide an anonymous channel, independent of Connections staff, for residents to report if they are being harassed or otherwise feel endangered.
  • Prohibit possession or use of drugs, alcohol and firearms in or around the Margarita, with immediate eviction for violation and sharing of the information with police.
  • Provide full-time certified social worker staffing at a ratio of no less than one worker for every 10 residents.
  • Require monthly professional counseling for residents with mental health challenges or substance abuse issues.
  • Provide job training workshops for residents able to work.

Greg Morrow, a spokesman for the neighbors, says none of the neighbors are opposed to having a shelter on Oak Avenue, but that so far the shelter has been “a failure” because of the “incompetence” of Connections for the Homeless.

He says the neighbors have done research and talked to experts in mental illness and addiction, other shelter operators, outreach workers, people who have been homeless, case workers, policy makers and police in preparing their proposed agreement.

He says the proposal has been reviewed and rewritten by homeowners, renters, landlords, restaurant and business owners, people who have worked with Connections, who live or have lived at the Margarita Inn and persons who live in buildings that former Margarita residents have moved to.

Nia Tavoularis, chief of development for Connections, said the proposal from the neighbors “seems more like a PR stunt than an effort at community engagement.”

She says the “good neighbor” plan signed by the mayor was developed by a diverse group of homeowners and other neighbors, business owners, Connections staffers and Margarita Inn residents.

The Margarita Inn, with the Time and Glass Museum in the foreground.

The city’s Land Use Commission is scheduled to reopen its hearing on the Margarita
Inn special use permit application at 7 p.m. next Wednesday to hear testimony from the owner of the Halim Time and Glass Museum, located just south of the homeless shelter, as required by a court order.

The agenda for the hearing says no additional testimony from any other member of the public will be heard at that session.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. The alternative GNA is a thoughtful, researched, common sense approach supporting both the residents and the neighbors. It was created in opposition to the CFH and the City Councils rubber stamping of the current (failing) approach. Hopefully this could start a real dialogue.

  2. Nia, did you read the proposal? Do you have an objection to the three sections “mental health” “physical health” and “financial health” for the residents? I find absolutely nothing objectionable about this. These are thoughtful ideas that show care for the homeless to really prepare them for reentry. I also find the safeguards to be appropriate, including the information about cooperating with police and violent criminals.
    I would most certainly like to read a formal response to these points by Connections management. I also like the fact that the agreement was generated by the neighbors and also that it is simple and has clear objectives. Connections, kindly show that you are listening to the neighbors and reply. There may be useful information here that you could benefit from. As a neighbor nearby, I would like some of these items implemented.

  3. I had a very difficult time financially at one point in my life. I would have loved to have an organization behind me like this. Good job, neighbors.

  4. How can Nia, who was at a coordinated public event with Press say that this is a “publicity stunt”?! If anything in this entire process embodies how Connections for the Homeless feels about the neighbors, it is that comment – total and complete disregard for the rights, concerns, and even interests of the neighbors.

    1. I find Nia’s comment interesting coming from an organization that did a big PR whitewashing job on the city. Projecting Connections own bad behavior onto others much?

  5. I am a Margarita neighbor and I very much appreciate those who worked hard to put this agreement together. I would feel much better about this situation if these were the terms.

    1. Ironically, Nia fails to recognize that the only publicity stunt is the one Connections is attempting to execute.

      But Evanston is wising up. You can’t simply dismiss caring, thoughtful, and concerned citizens whenever they disagree with an irresponsible, profit-driven, “heads in beds” organization that has changed our community so dramatically.

      Sorry, Nia. Your job — which seems to be a consistent “nothing to see here” obfuscation, while Connections introduces hundreds of unwell, unsupervised, and unvetted persons to Evanston — just got harder.

  6. I love the neighbors agreement that is presented in the article. I think it hits all the right areas and issues; safety, client management, treatment goals and accountability conditions to help the residents at the Inn. This agreement is designed to have the best for the needs of the client. The people the Inn gets paid lots of grant money for. I think it’s excellent and thoughtful. I’m sad to see that staff thinks it’s a PR stunt. This would help staff be the best that they are and give the best care that they can. A PR Stunt sounds disrespectful.

    1. They don’t think it’s a publicity stunt. They know it’s a substantive, well-reasoned and caring counter-offer. Crying “publicity stunt” is the last refuge of an organization that has no actual argument against what’s being proposed.

  7. Great job Neighbors! I think this is what Connections should have done to start. This is what you want, to support and provide guidance so that homeless people aren’t just kept into a shelter indefinitely. Let’s give them a path to self sufficiency with the support services they need in order to accomplish that goal.

  8. “She says the “good neighbor” plan signed by the mayor was developed by a diverse group of homeowners and other neighbors, business owners, Connections staffers and Margarita Inn residents.” What a bunch of baloney. Everyone and their mama knows this is not true. Stop lying, Connections. There has got to be a point at which you get sick of telling mistruths about what you do – just say the truth and let people accept or reject it for what it is. It is precisely this type of behavior that has made us lose trust 100 percent in this organization.

    1. is there a list of these people that participated in developing the mayors plan ? where can we read that plan ? This good neighbor plan represented in this article sounds excellent. People need limits and consequences and safety. They need motivation to get better. This is a demanding list to follow through with, but it is appropriate and gold-star quality. Connections would be able to take great pride in following through with a plan like this. But it would be more expensive than they are ready for, perhaps.

      1. I put a FOIA claim with the city for this information, and was told the data didn’t exist.
        I was then shared a copy of one of the draft emails, and upon doxing every email address there to the best of Google ability, I can tell you that the select group of people Connections states, most of the participants are staunch supporters and most of them do not live within 500′ of the Margarita Inn. Weird was that at least 2 of the emails had @cityofevanston.org in them,and due to that, I think the answer to my FOIA request was false.

  9. Neither original Margarita Inn GNAgreement nor recent Neighbor Alternative edits included contributions from me; however as a very nearby condo owner I believe there is much practical value in the new specific edits I just read and should at least be considered as an update to the Operating Agreement required by the City. Years of effort have been extended by numerous groups and individuals on this important MarInn issue and that in itself suggests significant “non-fluff” new edits from taxpaying neighbors should be respected and reviewed now for inclusion. Thank you. Ceal H

  10. I believe the “GNA” that Biss signed on behalf of the real neighbors is as valid as Bogg’s testimony that the Margarita is for domestic violence victims and cancer survivors who sleep on the tracks. We have heard your lies for 3 years, Connections. Stop. Run a reasonable operation and meet the community halfway. It’s not a “agreement” if only one side is in favor of it.

  11. I work near Margarita and pass behind or in front of it daily. It has cleaned up significantly and I never see people loitering out front in the day anymore. The alley behind it is clean and quiet. There’s definitely been an improvement over the past 6 months.

    I don’t know if Margarita residents are the ones sitting in front of the post office or Philz shouting and asking for money. The two could be totally unrelated. These men need a lot more help.

  12. “seems more like a PR stunt than an effort at community engagement.” This comment made by Nia Tavoularis, chief of development for Connections just shows that they don’t want to work with neighbors and the police department. Connection for the homeless has failed the same people they are there to help by not providing the services required for someone who just came off the streets! This proposal is amazing and it shows the neighbors are willing to work with connection for the homeless, it shows that they are not against housing the homeless it shows that the neighbors care about more than housing they care about their wellbeing, something connections for the homeless seems to lack!
    I would like this proposal to be in every building that houses connection for the homeless like 319 Dempster St and the proposed building on the corner of church and Darrow!

  13. This new version is an excellent, well thought out plan that really IS a Good Neighbor Plan. I am curious about the Mayor’s reaction. He needs to recognize how skewed the first plan was in CFH’s direction.

  14. I’m not sure how “neighbors” is defined in this group. Is the Halim family part of this group. I live about 3 blocks from the Margarita and have never been contacted by anyone with an association with this group. Am I a “neighbor”.

    1. This is a good point. How can they reach out to you and others who might be interested? AFAIK this is just a group of neighborhood folks who self-organized to do the work that the city refuses to. It’s not official, so they have no access to city communication channels. The city staff and the alder person are the ones with the list of emails and addresses, and they aren’t going to publicize this effort, haha. I only find out about things like this through official city emails and my Google news tab, which shows local news (how I see Evanston Now articles.)

      It would be a good idea if there were some kind of texting list, mailing list or website for the Margarita neighbors, but again, if not for this site, I don’t know how people would find out about it. Or if this group even has the technical know how to set something like that up. But I’m sure they would want more local people getting involved, since many 4th ward neighbors are affected.

  15. The chief of development says that this good faith effort from neighbors who want stronger rules for management of the Margarita Inn “seems more like a PR stunt than an effort at community engagement.”

    Attacking concerned community members is more than a full-time job at Connections for the Homeless since they’ve even got the head of fundraising doing it. The requests in this new neighbor agreement are good for everyone, but Connections leadership – and our own city government – refuse to recognize that people who live nearby are bringing up valid issues that deserve consideration and negotiation.

  16. At its outset, direct neighbors of the inn were invited by Jonathan Nieuwsma to be on the committee to help draft the GNA. I gave his request some consideration, but declined.

    My neighbors and I, for more than a year, had already had several meetings on how to make the neighborhood work with the addition of a homeless shelter.

    We met with Nieuwsma, the mayor, the police chief, the city manager, other alder people, Bennison’s and additional business operators on Davis. My next door neighbor took a tour of the Write Inn interim shelter in Oak Park with alderperson Kelly. Another interviewed Seattle on how they were making solutions work. Another talked to Rockford, IL about its policies and best practices for homelessness.

    We communicated the results of our study, along with insights about the neighborhood, to elected officials and city staff. It received little acknowledgement and no impact on guiding the course of the GNA.

    In effect, the GNA signed by Ms. Bogg and the mayor is the true pr stunt. It does not reflect the input from the immediate neighbors and businesses.

  17. Now that’s what I call a substantive and comprehensive good neighbor agreement. I too am a near by neighbor who was not involved in the development of this agreement, but rather than whine about that, I’d like to commend those that spent the time putting together such a rational, thorough, and meaningful agreement.

    It disproves Connections’ and Nieuwsma’s claims that we are all NIMBY racists who don’t care about the homeless in Evanston.

    It’s difficult to imagine that Connections, elected officials, and City staff wouldn’t seriously consider incorporating at least some of the many valid points from this agreement into an official, enforceable agreement with any homeless shelter they decide is qualified to run a reputable shelter in Evanston.

  18. The newly proposed GNA is a thorough document that details what a good relationship between the City, Connections and the citizens of Evanston could be.

    If Connections was sincere, they would sign this new agreement in a second. If they won’t agree to these terms they should say why. If they won’t say why, the city manager, the mayor, or one of the aldermen should go through it point by point with Betty Bogg and find out which parts they do not agree with. This will be a telling reveal.

    Evanston is a caring town but Connections is taking advantage of our charity. It is time for our city leaders to hold them accountable with this new GNA. If they don’t like being held accountable, then we need to find a new partner for the Margarita Inn that does.

  19. I think that the alternate GNP is very thoughtful and aligned with the most progressive actions being taken by homeless advocates around the country, to actually help people move through their situation by addressing root causes. However, I would also suggest that the CITY make the purchase of the facility and contract the management to CFH. CFH could do so much more with the monies that they would be spending on the purchase of a “rooming” house and they could demonstrate their ability to effectively manage a homeless shelter. Additionally, CFH is ultimately a vendor of resources, Evanston needs to be able to monitor the effectiveness of their vendors, and be in a position to choose a new one based upon the performance of their services. I would also suggest that the vendor would be responsible for paying for police and fire calls to their shelter. The reason that I am very concerned about the purchase of the building, is that two of the current council members, on an unrelated topic indicated that, “in reality, once someone purchases a property there if very little that the city can do to control what they do with it….”

  20. I like this new draft/proposal and agree with JR’s comment:
    “It’s difficult to imagine that Connections, elected officials, and City staff wouldn’t seriously consider incorporating at least some of the many valid points from this agreement into an official, enforceable agreement with any homeless shelter they decide is qualified to run a reputable shelter in Evanston.”
    One would think that Evanston city officials would want to work with the neighbors directly to come up with a workable solution.
    Why don’t both groups publish the names, or at least the addresses, of the neighbors who participated in their proposals?
    I hope everyone keeps working on this. This latest proposal sounds the most thought-thru for all involved.

  21. I challenge Nia Tavoularis; Betty Bogg; Mayor Daniel Biss; Jonathan Nieuwsma, including two board members from the Land Commission to either check into the Margarita as a resident sleeping there and hanging out all day for a week. Or arriving at the Margarita 5am leave at 1am for a week and actually experience hands on what’s actually going on at the Margarita. Concerning the situation. To truly understand the concerns within the community immediate to the Margarita

    1. So have you done that I’ve spent 2 years there and I think it’s terrible what you are doing to them

  22. As a close neighbor I, too, endorse the neighborhood’s Good Neighbor Agreement for the following reasons:

    1. This supports the residents who need it
    2. There is a focus on Evanston citizens
    3. There is an emphasis on quality of life, not quantity of housing. 70 people is far too many in a single building with 46 rooms meant for – at most – 65 people who don’t have special need supports
    4. There is verification and enforcement
    5. Provides for a continuum of care to support those who leave the Inn, voluntarily or otherwise

    This does not solve all of the homeless problems in northern Illinois but other comunities need to step up also, not just Evanston.

    I am All Inn with this approach.

  23. In my opinion the primary initiative of Connections concerning the Margarita is all about receiving federal funding. Congresswoman Schakowsky championed funding for 15 projects that will directly benefit Illinois’ 9th District. These include: *2,000,000 for the Connections for the Homeless Hilda’s Pace renovation. It’s obvious from Nia Tavoula response regarding the revised “Good Neighbor ” they wish to spend that $2,000,000 for other projects that’s more important than Provide full-time certified social worker staffing at a ratio of no less than one worker for every 10 residents.
    Require monthly professional counseling for residents with mental health challenges or substance abuse issues.
    Provide job training workshops for residents able to work. That’s just to cost effective for their clients real needs. What are the true statistics of those they had help securing a place of their own that are still living in their own apartment in comparison to those lost their apartment due to mental health, drug/alcohol addiction and not being employed

    1. There isn’t a single person in connections that doesn’t have mental health issues and about 95% have an addiction problem. And how many clients do you think connections for the homeless has? This plan is ridiculous. And do you have any idea how many of them receive ss benefits because they can’t work? You are asking for a plan that is absolutely impossible for connections to maintain in the hopes that homeless will just disappear

  24. My staff and i were asked to participate in this agreement. We sent over suggestions specifically of what would make us feel safer: especially working both very early hours or in the winter when its dark at 4. We saw a few drafts but did not attend meetings, although we were invited. That said, no one was intentionally left out. We were repeatedly reminded- invite anyone to contribute. My experience was that a lot of community feedback was taken. Remember- we are all volunteets and doing this alongside being present for our jobs and families. We dont have mass communication methods that the Mayor and co have and are so adept at using. For a local group effort spanning some months I am proud of this agreement and would appreciate a real reply from the Mayor and Connections, as they signed the “fake” GNA. We are waiting to hear from you, Biss and Bogg. Thanks.

  25. This proposed Good Neighbor Agreement is excellent. It includes provisions that are truly of benefit to the residents of the Margarita Inn, the close neighbors of the Margarita Inn, and all the residents of Evanston. Unfortunately, actions that benefit Connections for the Homeless funding needs takes priority for our City’s elected and appointed officials. What a shame!

  26. To participants and authors of alternative GNA, “group of Evanstonians who live near the Margarita Inn”…Please make yourselves be publicly known, and how more can get involved—-It’s imperative to show the mayor, city council and Connections that those supporting this version of a GNA represent far too many to be ignored—-the level of public opinion as shown here is overwhelmingly in favor of the alternative GNA.

    Since the very beginning of Connections taking over use of the Margarita with city support, they’ve held total control of the narrative—-and clearly there’s been a strong effort by both to maintain control until the LUC and city council pass proposal into law,

    Fortunately Cameel Halim, owner of neighboring building to Margarita, Halim Time and Glass Museum successfully filed a lawsuit against city council’s final approval of Connections and Margarita—-this delay provides an excellent opportunity for “the neighbors” to have their GNA be heard—those in favor of “the neighbors” must unite and insist the mayor and city council address alternative proposal—-without strong solidarity I’m certain the city council and Connections will eventually get their way—-petition in numbers that accurately shows where the majority stands on this issue!

  27. Let’s go further than the revised GNA.

    Has anyone looked at the financials of Connections? Millions in federal and cuty funding. Where and how is the money spent? What are the salaries of Connections/MInn top management personnel? Is that public?

    Look deeper. Follow the money.

  28. Any trust I may have had in Connections has been lost by their calling this proposal a publicity stunt. Whether it is approved or not, it is clear that a great deal of time, thought, and concern for both the homeless and the neighbors went into it. To dismiss it as a publicity stunt is disgraceful.

    1. As a neighbor of the Margarita on Maple, I’m fully in support of the alternative GNA. I did not participate in its creation but would gladly sign on as a neighbor in support. I have personally reached out to Bogg and offered to provide the residents with tips on how to get hired and what not to do and what their rights are. Bogg was only interested in my training her staff on employment laws – that didn’t happen.
      I want to see people succeed in life. This alternative GNA affords everyone a better outcome.

      p.s. CFH doesn’t accept business attire cloth donations for the residents. That speaks volumes.

      Thank you neighbors.

  29. The Land Use Commission meets this Wednesday at 7:00 PM. The agenda is posted here —

    The LUC states in the agenda that only Halim and his lawyers get to speak on Wednesday. It is specifically stated that “no additional testimony from any
    member of the public will be heard on the matter.” I guess this is what the city calls democracy.

    I want to hear what Halim has to say on Wednesday. I’ll be there and listening and I especially want to hear the LUC tie itself in knots trying to convince the citizens of Evanston that the Margarita “Does not interfere with or diminish the value of property in the Neighborhood.” This is a requirement under the nine standards for special use required by the city of Evanston.

    By the way, according to the minutes of the LUC from 11-30-22, Alexandra Ruggie, Deputy City Attorney, stated that “the city cannot be involved {in a GNA} without an enforcement mechanism” [page 9 of 13]. The GNA that Bogg and Biss signed has no enforcement mechanism. How can this be Ms. Ruggie? What has changed under the law?

    Also, at the 11-30-22 meeting of the LUC, Commissioner Lindwall made a motion to recommend approval to the City Council to approve the Special Use Permit for the Margarita subject to 17 conditions. This was approved on a vote of 5-3.

    One of the conditions (number 17 on page 12 of 13) was “An acceptable Good Neighbor Declaration must be developed within 3 months of the issuance of the Special Use Permit. Here’s the link to the minutes of the 11-30-22 meeting.


    Question — did the LUC ever accept the GNA signed by Biss and Bogg? A big NO! The LUC has never approved the GNA.

    Further, how could the GNA even be accepted since the LUC never voted for a GNA? Instead, A “Good Neighbor Declaration” was required by the LUC, not a “Good Neighbor Agreement.” Just read the minutes. This is not just semantics. These are two very different types of documents. Connections must provide the declaration and the LUC must approve it. This has not happened.

    It is time to start the Margarita Inn process over. Rules have not been followed. The entire process has been mismanaged and corrupted. Most importantly, the citizens of Evanston have not been represented.

  30. This proposal is a joke so you just want to throw 40 people in the streets? Research ha I laughed at your research someone offered me a cup of coffee to tell them my experience in the margarita and I laughed at them. My life depends on the help I get from the margarita. Only thing I agree on is better mental health opportunities the counselor they have I couldn’t connect with so I opted out. I once told a staff member about a situation I was in and instead of receiving help she told other staff members and those staff members told the said person and I was in worse trouble. 15 months huh so you are just gonna through people in the street because Evanston has a bias against homeless people. Do you understand how hard it is to actually get housing. The apartments have raised the rent to above the voucher and added fees that connections won’t help pay for. So you are stuck with no money to pay non refundable move in fees. I wish Evanston would stop caring about Evanston homeless shelter and focus on the kids getting shot and overdosing and all the lives lost

    1. What I read here is:
      -you (a Margarita Inn resident) declined to talk about your situation to an interested neighbor
      -the mental health services that Connections provides residents is inadequate
      -you had an issue that needed resolving, and upon asking a Connections employee for help, you instead were put into harms way worse.
      -you cannot get housing due to Connections’ rent voucher not covering full rent nor help with any non-refundable fees associated with getting housing.

      Angie, are you sure Connections For the Homeless is a good fit for you and your situation?

      As a close by neighbor, I’m just not satisfied with a 50% success rate. I’m unhappy that my own happiness is being infringed upon by an organization that is not listening to me. And now to hear that they are not listening to their own clients?
      What kind of operation are they running? Seems like a ton of money is being handed to them to help you, but you’re still there and still in need of help.
      I doubt anyone in town misaligns with your plea for the end of gun violence, drug overdose (like what happens in your temporary home according to police reports) and unnecessary deaths.
      The aphorism “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” is too close to the truth here.

      1. Connections for the homeless does not give you vouchers or pay for your housing you have to on your own time apply for housing with Chicago housing authority or the housing authority of cook county. Cfth does however have access to rapid housing which is a joke. The apartment companies who by law are supposed to accept rent vouchers because they are guaranteed funds. Well the residents there don’t want homeless people in their building because homeless tend to not be house broken. Well anyways they have found loop wholes to where they can avoid taking vouchers. 1 they keep the rent above the voucher price if my voucher is good for 1510 they marker the rent at 1525… Connections will help. With a refundable security deposit but won’t pay a non refundable move in fee. So the apartments charge an admin fee or move in fee non refundable. Rapid housing is a set up for failure your first 2 months rent are free after that homeless 3nd up back in the street and it’s only help for 1 year. Connections doesn’t have the resources to provide help for everyone

        1. Angie M,
          Again, it seems to me that Connections is not serving you in the way they are saying both to the city and to you how they will help you.
          I’m sorry that your mental health is declining due to your residency there and your feeling that Evanston is against you (as you state in another comment below).
          I truly do understand that, as my own antidepressants dosage has increased 3 fold since the beginning of the pandemic.
          That said, based upon what you’re posting here and in other comments on alternate Evanston news sites and Next Door, it really looks like you are being sold a bill of goods. I appreciate your honesty about the conditions of your housing. It is very telling how this system is failing you.
          My best advice is to seek a better organization with a higher than 50% success rate. I wish I could tell you who/where that is.
          Move in move out fees are crazy. The building I’m in charges almost $500 to move in or out, and God forbid you don’t tell the super that you’re bringing in a chair…if the pads aren’t in either elevator, he makes sure it’s another hundo onto your rent.

  31. Hi Angela – Nobody said rhey wanted to put people on the street. At all. Please read the document. However- Seems like you have good feedback- too bad you didnt want to contribute because it seems like your point of view wanted to be accounted for. I was not part of the neighbor generated GNA however Everyone wants to Margarita to be successful. If staff doesnt get people the services they need or express interest in and tattle and gossip in a way thatcompromised you, then they must do better. That isn’t acceptable anywhere. They have a service based job and make a lot of money to provide people in the shelfer services. Sorry you had those experiences and I truly hope things improve for you.

    1. But you just want to clean the outside you aren’t trying to get your hands dirty and aid and assist with the inside. You have no idea what the bias residents of Evanston have done to my mental health it’s because of Evanston I’m severely depressed

  32. I’m confused. As someone who lives 3 blocks away from the M.I., I attended one of the “open houses” last year. From recollection, Connections representatives claimed they were selective about admissions at the Inn from the population of existing clients. Those admitted had the best prospects to be rehoused, must agree to work on a housing plan and meet regularly with a counselor. The idea was that a more stable housing environment would be more conducive to transitioning one from unhoused to housed. Services could be delivered with greater consistency. I was not under the impression that the MI was to be a permanent residence.
    Is my memory faulty or has something changed?

    1. Hi “Confused”,

      The Margarita Inn is not meant to be “permanent” housing, but it is temporary “bridge” or “transitional” housing, where homeless clients have a (supposedly) stable place to stay while they are in the process of being placed in eventual permanent housing. IIRC per Nia the “average” Margarita Inn stay is over twelve months; a number have been there for several years, others for a shorter time…

      As for the rest of what Connections told you, I’ll just say it can be “a matter of interpretation”…

      Gregory Morrow, Evanston 4th Ward resident

  33. Everyone, here are documents for Evanston Land Use Commission’s upcoming 04/26/2023 Meeting Agenda. Of interest is the 351 page “1566 Oak Avenue – Exhibits Submitted on 4/24/2023” document; a matter of public record:


    The last 10 pages of the “Exhibits” document offer input by Mr. Eddington, and a member of the original CFTH GNA committee. Excerpts:

    Statement from Richard Eddington, Chief of Evanston Police Department from 2007- 2018:

    “911 calls steeply increased, straining our police department. This resulted in my 2022 meeting with Betty Bogg, Mayor Biss, and others… unfortunately, this meeting did not yield any significant outcomes… As we left the meeting, I expressed my dismay to Mayor Biss. It was clear that CFTH… failed to consider making any changes regardless of the safety risk to anyone. Their default position is, based on the Homeless Bill of Rights. they are not required, or willing, to cooperate with the Police on any level. Connections uses the HBR as a shield to deny oversight and to conceal illegal occurrences including violent crimes and drug use…”

    From CFTH GNA committee member:

    “I am here to tell you about my experience on the GNA. It is very clear that this document has not been adjusted to reflect neighbors’ concerns… the GNA committee ended as a group in favor CFTH’s operation of the MI… there was never a real “outreach” to the community. The “listening sessions” only presented Connections POV… there was zero compromise, particularly regarding drugs and alcohol… although City Legal Counsel had initially advised that the City should not sign the agreement in an official capacity due to enforcement and liability concerns, C4H was able to leverage their political clout in a way that led to the ceremonial co-signing of the GNA document by Mayor Biss and Betty Bogg…”

  34. The fundamental underlying problem is that Connections business plan is to pursue Federal $$$$ for ‘heads in beds’ and that business model requires a ‘low bar’ largely unrestricted environment and the federal dollars provided does not adequately fund the services required to do the job right and provide life-changing support services to the residents. Thus, the business model and core objectives of CONNECTIONS INC are and will remain at odds with the needs and best interest of the greater Evanston community.

  35. It is telling that a “homeless” person has commented here that they have been living at Margarita for two years. Doesn’t that fly in the face of Connections’ claims of success in getting homeless housed? Without an ounce of any understanding of the homelessness issues facing America, any rational person would conclude that getting a homeless person back on their feet, so that they can support themselves and live in respectable housing, is a primary objective and the right thing to do.

    It appears that Connections isn’t equipped to properly help this two year resident. That’s a damn shame.

    1. An issue with the Margarita is that guests who are offered housing are not *required* to take it… Connections calls this “client – centered” and “consumer choice”…

      When I worked at the Margarita numerous guests continually turned down housing for various reasons; some had been there for years “stalling”:

      – one woman would not accept housing unless the apartment complex had a pool and a nice fitness complex

      – one older single guy was offered a nice studio, but he insisted on a *two – bedroom* apartment

      “It has to be near Old Orchard”, said one

      – one guy wanted a place “with a view”

      – many want to “live in downtown Evanston”, but of course there is no subsidized housing for these folks in high – cost downtown Evanston

      – “I want to live near my friends”, said several

      – a number who were offered nice spots in assisted living apartments turned them down, claiming they “didn’t like rules”; however they had their own self – sufficient apartments, and there was staff on site to assist them if needed, there were no onerous “rules”…

      I’d go with housing staff to visit some of the apartments, they were mostly all in nice market – rate buildings – any of us might be satisfied living there…

      These “picky” Margarita guests only ever pay one – third of any of their income for rent, many were on $850.00.month SSDI or whatever. The remaining rental costs are covered by public subsidies, Section 8, etc. All of the afore – mentioned examples had been offered several or more housing opportunities…

      Gregory Morrow – Evanston 4th Ward resident

  36. Connections and our City elected officials need to take heed to the “homeless” commentator’s statement that many homeless are not “house trained”!!!

    Yowsa, that’s a reality that HAS to be dealt with. Where is Connections on that dilemma? Do they have alternative plans? Proven stats on success rates?

    A multi dimensional complex problem cannot have one myopic solution provided by an unproven experimental non-profit entity. Especially NOT Connections for the Homeless.

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