Devon Reid.

Ald. Devon Reid (8th), asked at a ward meeting about comments he’s made suggesting he’d favor having a homeless shelter in his ward, retreated a bit from that idea Thursday night.

His initial comments were sparked by ongoing opposition from some neighbors to a homeless shelter in downtown Evanston at the Margarita Inn in the 4th Ward.

“Because of the hostility of the surrounding community, I personally have concerns that we could create a more negative situation for tenants at the Margarita,” Reid said.

“Police have been called unnecessarily,” he added. “That creates both a drain on resources overall and mental drain on the community and the folks living in the Margarita Inn.”

“I think the 8th Ward has a more welcoming community,” Reid added, and potentially “we could find a location in the 8th Ward that is less disruptive for the entire community” than the shelter’s current location.

But Reid told constituents at the online meeting that his support for putting a shelter in his ward “has decreased quite a bit” since he learned about plans for a large men’s homeless shelter at 7464 N. Clark St. in Chicago, just a block south of the Evanston border.

The proposed shelter site at 7464 N. Clark St.. in Rogers Park..

The proposed 72-bed shelter would be operated by North Side Housing and Supportive Services and would be the only shelter targeted toward homeless single men on the north side of Chicago.

NSHSS has provided emergency shelter in Chicago since 1983 and last year moved from a crumbling building in Uptown to a temporary outpost at a Super 8 Motel.

Neighbors have voiced concerns about the proposed shelter site, because it is located across the street from a major shopping center with a significant panhandling and shoplifting problem.

The Rogers Park shelter plan has drawn support from Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) who’s also dealing with complaints from neighbors around Touhy Park, at 7348 N. Paulina St., where a growing tent city of homeless people has led to relocation of park programming to other sites.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. “I think the 8th Ward has a more welcoming community” – Reid
    No, we are not interested is adding even more low income / free housing in the 8th ward. The “affordable housing” here is the most abundant in all of Evanston. Why are people hellbent on siloing ever more poverty in this one section of Evanston?! Connections for the Homeless is relentless and needs to to be told NO for once. That includes Reid who thinks he has a mandate but doesn’t realize or doesn’t care that he doesn’t represent the majority.

  2. Amen! In the 8th Ward we live next to the people Connections places in our buildings! They’re perfect at doing the paperwork to get people in our buildings but they don’t prepare them to live with regular people who have families and jobs! All we get is noise, hollering, and carrying on! They should be investigated for how they place people. We have such problems in our building because of Connections. We will be no more welcoming than the folks in the 4th ward and I hope Councilmember Reid hears this loud and clear. No to Connections in our City. Enough is enough!

    1. That is so disappointing to hear. I want to believe that CFH has an approach that works. I want to believe in the fairy tale that once you find homeless people some help and a place to stay, it’s all good, they’ll get back to a normal life. But it sounds here like they don’t WANT to have a normal life… like college dorm kids refusing to cross over to adulthood.

      1. Unfortunately, Connections and most all publicly – funded homeless agencies adhere to the flawed “Housing First” model. Homeless are *first* provided housing, the reasoning is that the primary stressor of being unhoused will be “solved”, and *then* it will be easier to address other major issues such as substance abuse, mental health issues etc. For some this works, but for those with chronic addiction/mental issues they can wind up back on the streets, as the underlying issues of homelessness (addiction/mental issues) are not addressed. This is a “backwards” model, akin to treating a tumor with a band – aid. *Stabilize* those serious underlying issues first, and then when a certain amount of stability/self – sufficiency is gained, *then* these folks are better – suited for housing. But “Housing First” is official HUD policy – for a public agency to get HUD and other public funding the “Housing First” model is mandatory.

        More (this discusses San Francisco, but the same holds for the entire US):

        San Francisco’s “Housing First” Nightmare – Stuffing people who need drug or mental-health treatment into free or low-cost housing has proved disastrous.

        “…The idea behind it is as simple as it is misguided: Put people who were living outside or who are at risk of becoming homeless inside four walls. Then, voilà, you’ve solved the problem of homelessness… Stuffing thousands of people who should be recovering in hospitals, mental-health facilities, and drug-treatment centers into free or low-cost apartments has been disastrous. The places in which they are housed are ruined; people get hurt, and some die. Neighborhoods fall into disorder… Housing First has hurt, not helped, those who are in dire situations. Rather than railroad deeply troubled people into poorly managed apartments or blighted SROs, San Francisco should use its enormous budget to fund the integrated addiction treatment and psychiatric care it sorely lacks…”

  3. Connections for the Homeless is ruthless: they are seasoned at getting large donations as well as federal money. They produce slick advertising to create an image of themselves that is so far from the reality of what they are- an incompetent group that has a sour relationship with the neighbors, not because the neighbors are prejudiced, but because they do their job so poorly. They have perfected every manipulative tactic so that they can operate with no one knowing what happens in their building or how it effects to downtown. They weaponize the Homeless Bill of Rights to house criminals and deny police entry. They have no oversight and are accountable to no one. They are more powerful than all City boards and commissions. The Mayor, staff, elected officials are their pawns. We will sadly see the effect of this on the downtown for many many years to come.

    1. As a former Connections employee, I’d say that your observations are, unfortunately, spot – on. If the huge amounts of funding that they receive were used wisely, it’d be a different – and better- story. Alas, it is not…

  4. Encouraging to read that Devon Reid has evolved on understanding what his community wants and that the topless story is over. We do Not want Connections in the 8th Ward. If they were here, we would call the police, too. It’s not only the people in the 4th ward. Our businesses have said they would leave if the shelter came here. Our residents have said clearly NO. This does not help a neighborhood and Howard finally has some nice local restaurants and hang outs that would not survive if Connections came here. We’ve all worked hard and want to have a nice and safe and stable home. It doesn’t make anyone a bad person to oppose Connections.

  5. I never imagined the day that I would find Devon Reid wiser than any of the other aldermen. I really feel sorry for the businesses and people who live in the 4th ward. They’re going to have to bear the brunt of their alderman’s inexperience and his yearning to prove himself. We all will lose downtown because of his governing by his personal ideological biases. I’m in the 7th ward, I still don’t support Connections in the Margarita because it will erode our downtown.

  6. Yes, it’s great that Reid had a ‘change of heart’ after hearing from residents in his ward. A purely political move, but hey, that’s nothing new. Maybe the rest of city council could also have a change of heart if they have any interest in being re-elected. PS, I have yet to meet a resident who lives in the 4th ward who wants the shelter to be there. Not one.

  7. Hi Mary,
    I do know that resident.
    It is, of course, Jonathan Nieusma.
    He thinks installing the shelter will win him reelection and acclaim. Little does he know that the Ward is tracking his every move and, unless everyday residents lives are improved by this decision (which is impossible) not only will he not be re-elected; but he will go down in the history of the city as a failed politician who handicapped the city from making any progress towards the recovery from Covid.

  8. Jonathan and Daniel,

    The comments. That’s the legacy. CFH, their employees, and the residents of Evanston have told you all along who they are. And you know who they are.

    Evanston deserves better. Please do your job and find a better solution.

    1. A “high barrier” shelter, with a robust program for guests is the only way to go. Otherwise, you are operating a “low barrier’ flophouse. If the Margarita Inn were a “high barrier” facility, I’d welcome it. But not as it is currently operated – and yes, I wholeheartedly agree that “Evanston deserves better. Please do your job and find a better solution…”


      EDITORIAL: ‘High-barrier’ shelters offer life instead of death

      “…Whether out of naïve kindness or misguided empathetic philosophical beliefs and political principles, Family Promise of Colorado Springs operated as a low-barrier facility with “trauma-informed care” rooted in the idea “to serve the most vulnerable families and children in the Colorado Springs area.” The approach failed most clients. Only 36% have moved into permanent stable housing. It is clear the low-barrier approach did little to deter the city’s homeless drug problem due to enablement and a lack of standards and consequences…

      Homeless addicts benefit from recovery-oriented, sobriety-contingent housing. It saves the lives of those willing to accept it. We should never enable self-destruction. With the homeless, let’s never give assistance that enables a deadly trip. Let’s always offer a generous, non-judgmental, and compassionate hand of help to those willing to accept it…”

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