Housing Forward checks into Oak Park hotel

New interim housing program replaces emergency shelter

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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

Housing Forward has made a major stride in its battle to upend homelessness by entering into a year-long lease with the Write Inn. Housing Forward, which works to transition people experiencing homelessness into stable housing, will use the hotel to house clients in its interim housing program.

"We're super excited," said Lynda Schueler, Housing Forward executive director. "This is a game-changer for us." 

The interim housing program provides temporary housing for clients until a permanent residence becomes available. The 65-room hotel will not act as an emergency shelter. Housing Forward will use it strictly for interim housing. The individuals who will soon move into the Write Inn have already been screened and approved by Housing Forward for permanent housing. 

"We want to make sure that homelessness is rare and brief and short-term," said Schueler. 

Once permanent apartments become available, the individuals will move out of Write Inn and other approved clients will take their place.

"We can provide them with short-term accommodation, and set people on the right path," said Schueler. "We don't want anyone to be acclimated to the circumstances of homelessness." 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Housing Forward operated emergency night shelters at rotating locations and did so for 27 years. 

The highly infectious nature of the virus made that traditional model untenable. Since March 23, Housing Forward has been operating with great success out of hotels, including the Carleton of Oak Park on Pleasant Street. The Write Inn is on Oak Park Avenue north of Scoville Park.

"This is going to be our future," said Schueler.

Under the new hotel system, Housing Forward clients have increased their engagement with the organization's services, including its employment readiness program.

"This is one of those silver linings that have come out of the pandemic," said Schueler. 

Case managers check in daily with the clients staying in the hotels. The rotating shelter model made it difficult for case managers to keep track of people's whereabouts.

The individuals utilizing Housing Forward also prefer the hotel system, according to Schueler.

"We're going from a model where people slept on a two-inch thick pad on the floor, where they were sleeping eight inches away from a stranger," said Schueler.

The number of people Housing Forward has to turn away has also decreased since abandoning the rotating shelter system.

"People aren't having to wait in line for shelter," said Schueler. 

Now, if someone is in need of shelter, Housing Forward is able to screen them and identify any other options that person may have before putting them up in a hotel.

"We've been able to divert about 20 percent of those who have called us or have been referred to us," said Schueler. 

In the course of the past seven months, Housing Forward has served 196 individuals and provided 19,860 nights of shelter.

"Which is 50 percent more than we would normally even be able to provide in the course of a normal shelter year," said Schueler.

Housing Forward pays for the hotels that replaced nightly shelters at a monthly rate. The agreement with Write Inn is unique in that Housing Forward pays based on a daily rate.

"We have a monthly rent based off a negotiated daily rate," said Schueler.

And can afford to do so, in part, using a combination of state and federal funding, including grants from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. 

Of the almost $1 million in CARES Act funding the village of Oak Park received, the village board gave $400,000 to Housing Forward to fund a program of apartment rental assistance for local residents unable to pay rent to their landlords due to COVID-19. 

The agreement with Write Inn is distinguishable from Housing Forward's other hotel agreements in that the use of the Write Inn is strictly for the interim housing program.

"I really want to get clear that it's not an emergency shelter," said Schueler.

After being accepted into the interim housing program, Housing Forward clients sign an agreement stating they understand the rules and intend to follow them. It is against the rules to engage in loitering or panhandling.

"There's no reason to do that when they have their own room in the building," said Schueler.

Schueler does not anticipate Housing Forward having to evict anyone.

"We don't plan on doing evictions because we're going to make sure everybody has a path to housing," said Schueler. 

Housing Forward will begin moving people into the Write Inn in a week or so. Under the leasing agreement, Housing Forward has exclusive access to the Write Inn, which has been closed to guests since March due to COVID-19. 

"We really see this as a win-win," said Schueler. "We're helping a local small business."

The hotel's owner, James Bushouse also owns the building on the southeast corner of Oak Park Avenue and Lake Street. His tenants include Oberweis and Mulata. 

Housing Forward will staff the Write Inn 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Staff will be supplemented by volunteers. The organization has a network of 1,200 volunteers, most of whom live in Oak Park and attend local churches, according to Schueler. 

Clients living in the Write Inn will enter through an entrance separate from the hotel's restaurant, Hemmingway's Bistro.

"We encourage everybody to patronize them," said Schueler.

The Housing Forward entrance will be controlled by a keycard like a hotel, giving staff and volunteers knowledge of who comes and goes from the building. Cameras have also been installed on the interior and exterior of the Write Inn.

While the agreement lasts a full year, living in the Write Inn is meant to be a very transitory experience for interim housing program clients. Schueler expects individuals to  live there for no more than 90 days.

"Our goal is when people move into the program that we begin to work on their exit strategy, which is getting them into the pipeline for permanent housing," said Schueler. 

Housing Forward has not yet made a decision on whether it will continue its agreements with the other hotels it has been using.

"We want to be very mindful of our capacity at the Write Inn and if we need to continue at the other hotels, we may do that," said Schueler. "But that's not in our immediate future."


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Reader Comments

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William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: October 6th, 2020 11:10 AM

A national reference point for a local issue. From The New York Times: . ."Pummeled by the Pandemic, Hotel Owners Get Creative With Their Space" .. . As the hospitality industry grapples with a severe downturn, owners are turning hotels into offices, schools, emergency housing, wedding halls or homeless shelters. .. . https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/06/business/hotels-transformation-offices-shelters-coronavirus.html?smid=em-share

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: October 6th, 2020 10:51 AM

A Comment Board could be called an Opinion Board without any discussion. Opinions could be the new direction to take. Housing Forward, formally known as PADS, has worked for decades to bring shelter to people who need it. They have taken single people and families throughout the years and have been successful at finding permanent housing. Now they have a deal with a hotel which makes the program more stable although it is in a desirable part of Oak Park. I like to think people do not judge others by race, sex, etc., and even being poor since Oak Park is always talking about a new way to help people. The time has come and a good organization has made a deal that will make it easer to help people. What makes it difficult to accept for those in the area is it may effect many things. Property value, people who are not dressed properly to enjoy a day in the local Park, and may even check the businesses out on Lake street. I would be welcoming to people who are no different except lack money which does change a person on how they have to survive the same that people who have an over abundance of money survive. I can understand how people think they have more money and do not want this in their own "Backyard" although may attend fund raisers, and even donate time and discuss how to be a better person and find housing. Well the good news is Housing Forward has found housing and after all, that appears to be what everyone wanted, although just not in their own "Backyard" which seems to be the old kick in the pants.. Give it a try and do not try to hard to project negative images. This may turn out to be a shining light on how a group has made a positive change that can shine out from Oak Park on how to help people, and that in my opinion is a good thing

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: October 6th, 2020 9:46 AM

I'm happy for Housing Forward. It's clear they've secured an important resource here for their good and necessary work. The concern, I would think, is whether this is a permanent situation for Write Inn. The place had a poor reputation with travellers before this, and the coronavirus pandemic was possibly a knife in the heart. The question is whether the owner uses this to make needed upgrades to the rooms, or the building becomes a permanent short-term shelter for homeless.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 6th, 2020 8:17 AM

Maxwell if you are going to keep pontificating would you mind directing it at Dwyer or MacMillan b/c I didn't comment on this for this back and forth. I just wanted to say my piece and move on.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: October 6th, 2020 12:50 AM

Ada, your opinion is right. This will be a permanent plan. The motivation for the owner is financial and the motivation for Housing Forward is affordable transitional housing for each person they help. Will there be transitional housing people wandering around the backyards of the residents in the area will be know in time. I do not think it will happen if this deal is going to be successful and I am sure Housing Forward who has a long successful track record is not going to have that happen

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 6th, 2020 12:09 AM

Bill I'm too busy dealing riding my own crazy train to jump onboard yours. Great - I'm glad you feel more peaceful and easy about where I'm coming from. However, my perspective hasn't changed - if this is a temporary set up - Perfectly fine with it. But I have serious doubts that this is going to be temporary based simply on the fact that I question the owner's motives on doing this. Just an opinion nothing more.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 11:24 PM

Ada Johnson Tikkanen there have been a lot of nice comments about what this program can do for people. I was stuck in a place that I did not want to be for a while and this covid is a walk in the park. Thank you for reevaluating the potential this program may be able to do for others, Ada. Stay to the precautions and we will all get through this together

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 10:52 PM

Just to end my abuse of this comment section and move on. 1) I agree with the fact that if this hotel is currently closed - it is now being put into good use. 2) I am not a person who associates homelessness with criminal behavior B/c I have no reason to - so I don't care if this happening a few blocks from where I live. 3) However I really dream of this hotel being more than it is - it's one of the few locations in this village which I drive by and see it's potential. 4) I would like it to be more than it is. 5) I would like to see a community house built affordably within our area to help people who are transitioning. 6) And I would like for Bill Maxwell to quit doing his amateur Dear Abby psychoanalysis to fill his boredom. It's Covid Bill. We're all testy. We already know it.

Erik Johnson from Forest Park  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 9:48 PM

Thank you, Maureen, very nicely put. Due to the pandemic, the hotel has been closed since March and there has been no indication that was going to turn around in the coming months.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 9:23 PM

Thank you Leslie (and Maureen and Erik) for explaining the facts and intent behind Housing Forward. Although I can't speak for Ada I think it more or less addressed her concern (which I share by the way) when she wrote earlier that she "want (ed) a place for people to be able to survive comfortably and temporarily - until they can get their feet back under them. I believe in safety nets for survival. It's called transitional for a reason." Housing Forward's mission then seems to be consistent with this sentiment. At least I hope so. We'll find out soon enough.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 8:52 PM

Kline Maureen Thank you for your volunteer service and explaining that the organization does a very good job. I did not think about the loss of income from the hotel although you are right that Oak Park has already lost that from the pandemic. This encourages myself even more to visit the restaurant again since it has been several years

Kline Maureen  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 8:32 PM

furthermore, to amplify what Leslie and Erik have mentioned, and as I explained to my husband, the Housing Forward clients are screened and interviewed before they are admitted to access services. Having volunteered for many many years with a group affiliated with St. Edmund's in OP, I saw that they ran a pretty tight ship when they were rotating among various locations in area churches and synagogues. Yes, losing the revenue from hotel taxes and related spending is a blow, but given the pandemic, that was likely lost anyhow. And on the other hand it's a gain for those who need these services - and that is a gain for the community as well.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 6:19 PM

William Dwyer Jr. not your best reply although I have an idea. If you stop mentioning Tommy McCoy or Bill Maxwell you will be able to have more time spending your time on educating people on this comment board. I do not think you personality will allow you to do that although prove me wrong

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 6:01 PM

Maxwell ... how to put this... I like compliments just fine. I've had my share, just like I have had criticism. What I don't care about is "frizzy" compliments or whatever, from people like you who post under fake names, run on and on about things about which you know nothing, and presume to be able to write a psychological profile on others. Your replies to my pretty focused observations were, to put it bluntly, silly.

Erik Johnson from Forest Park  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 5:58 PM

Thank you, Leslie, for your comments. As you mentioned, Housing Forward is using the property for a new Interim Housing Program which focuses on assisting individuals to make connections to housing resources and end their homelessness as soon as possible. This is not a drop in site and we will not be providing overnight shelter services, which were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Erik Johnson Housing Forward

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 4:55 PM

Thank you Leslie Sutphen for giving your time to help others

Leslie Sutphen  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 4:31 PM

My experience as a volunteer for the Housing Forward overnight shelter is that nearly all the guests are homeless. They are not your long term panhandlers with mental health or addiction challenges. I don't think any of these guests at the Write Inn are going to present any issues for patrons of Hemmingway's Bistro or the neighbors. This is not an SRO hotel that takes all comers. This is transitional housing for those who have faced unbelievable challenges and who want to get back on their feet. If any of you had actually volunteered for Housing Forward, you would realize that this is going to be a truly meaningful program for addressing situations that could happen to any of us.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 3:59 PM

William Dwyer Jr. Like I said, you do not like compliments. If you think people are not up to your intellect, then you are frustrating yourself by remaining on a comment board that you will never teach people to reach your intelligence level since intelligence is not something that is taught. You do get a short term sense of satisfaction to internal frustrations you hold inside from my observations and although by your useless attempts at demeaning people and even to people who think they can align themselves with you, you will push them away. You people to think like you and that is not going to happen. By you demeaning people over and over you just prove the classic example of expecting a different result which some say is a level of insanity although you are not insane. You are smart although not smart enough to find a comment board that would meet your level because you are not searching for satisfaction. You want that feeling of frustration. Most of this personality traits begin at an early age and they are treatable. You can start to make the change by feeling your intellect is worthwhile on another comment board and refuse the urge to demean another person. Eventually you will rewire your brain and become less demeaning and no longer need that feeling of frustration

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 2:41 PM

Ada Johnson Tikkanen we are off topic and I never understood why you lashed out since I never meant anything to push you although I know you change emotions quickly that become aggressive and not needed. No one buys a computer, sets it up and connects and is free from privacy unless you are aware of what to do. Freedom and privacy is something this country was proud of having. although people are curious and like to search for information so companies gathered public records and has that information is online although not 100 percent correct. Real information is kept by real agencies. As for reasons why people like to remain unknown are varied. Some remain unknown because of what they do or did and have come into contact in their work that they do not want to have themselves known.. Some may have worked in sensitive areas and now want to come out as they age to make comments and never thought it was necessary to go deep before posting on a local paper. This posting page has a setting that will recognize an IPS number and an automatic hold is put on it for manual approval. The bots that are posted that get through are using a rotating source of numbers that FB will recognize as approved accounts. That is why companies will use their own security systems because FB is not a security clearance agency. You as a private citizen could have changed your identification up to the early 70's when that was closed and I will not mention how that was done. So all in all, does it really matter that Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga, etc., do not use their real names. What matters more is what people want to write about and should not be attacked if a person is misunderstood. Just ask for clarification and then give them 20 lashings and banish them off the face of the Earth if you do not believe in their right to an opinion

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 2:14 PM

Tell ya what, Maxwell- keep your compliment, whatever type it is, and instead try posting with something approximating knowledge of the facts. You take a lot of words to say not much, and much of that is misinformation. I've had it up to here with people spouting mis- and dis- and low-information garbage.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 1:57 PM

Now that we are utterly off topic - and since Covid has given me massive amounts of time to spend time on topics which relieve my boredom- I am uber curious about who the people behind their nom de plumes might be. Seriously why? Are you locals? Are you agitators? Do you get paid for this stuff? Do you have an ultimate goal? Or are you just super bored and it's fun for you to throw people over the edge? Why not just use your real name?

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 1:02 PM

William Dwyer Jr. did you know you can develop a profile from how a person with reply to a comment or maybe you have not noticed. I suppose for you to be right about press releases would be to determine what qualifies a story as a press release. During these times it is difficult to get out to do reporting so a lot is relied on press releases and doing calls to answer a few questions. I miss the old days of investigative reporting when reporters would dig out information, gather facts and then compose a very good story. I think you use to do that very well and I would be interested in reading the two books you have written just for the simple fact that you write very well. That is not a fluffy compliment and I know you do not appreciate compliments although you just got one

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 12:49 PM

No, Maxwell, you're wrong. Most of the stories are NOT press releases.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 12:30 PM

William Dwyer Jr. Oak Park's fine thinking people know most of the stories are press releases. I am sure everyone is impressed by the confidence you have in your basic investigative skills although have you ever looked at the liabilities of posting names in a public source such as this media outlet without just cause to inform or benefit the public without working as a reporter full time, stinger or freelancer and if you did get a name right and it led to harm to the person or persons that you could be held liable and your reply should be shortly coming explaining why once again you know more about every thing just like Trump. To take a lead from Trump, you are acting like Dwyer the town Crier. Maybe everyone with 8 forms of I.D. should meet at Gaetano's, do an eye scan, voice print, finger print and a sample for DNA so you can have real information. Track back has been a common word used now with the virus although it is an old method and it is very easy to know how to track back and where this started although who cares other then the proverbial old lady with nothing else to do.. Lets do not make this virus into a long hauler and if I write something wrong that people do not agree with or I am not clear then lets have a comment board that exchanges opinions because this comment board is not growing. It is the same few people which was pointed out to me by a very intelligent person. People have fallen into a cesspool without knowing it. My goodness, most claim to be liberals although people appear to be the type that would chase a person wearing a MAGA hat down the street

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 12:17 PM

In the absence of any explanation from the hotel owner, this is of course speculation. But given that, according to STR Hotel Industry News, nationally hotel occupancy tanked at 22 percent and stayed there throughout the spring, and reached a pandemic high of only 50.3 pct last month, and with winter approaching and with it significantly lower local hotel room demand, it's not unreasonable to assume/guess that Write Inn's owner opted to take guaranteed full occupancy for the next year rather than face the distinct possibility of losing the business. The two biggest drivers of visits to the Oak Park area are the Hemingway birth home (as noted in this paper) and the FLW studio (and historic district). Both are experiencing depressed business. It will be interesting to see if WJ can get further info on the situation.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 11:24 AM

Kline Maureen Thank you for mentioning the Hemmingway Bistro. I have not been there in some time although it is a very lovely setting with white table cloths and nice to know that it did become a busy restaurant. I hope you are right and it will remain doing well since the area is a very nice part of Oak Park

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 11:19 AM

Maureen - I hope you are correct, but the reality is any restaurant in a hotel should expect to get some percent of their sales from the hotel guests, and with tight margins, that extra five or ten percent in sales can be everything. The M bigger issue is that the town just lost a hotel. Its not like we are swimming in hotels either. And when it is time to hopefully reestablish this as a hotel, its going to be a big project for them. No one just shifts from shelter, to hotel that tourists want to be in overnight. That could be a really tough sell. So this could be the permanent loss of what, one of two hotels? That is huge. And the town gets taxes from a hotel that it probably will lose when it is a not for profit shelter, so there is that too, and WJ isn't saying anything about what those numbers are. Shelters can be anywhere, so putting one in the one place in town that tourists would want a hotel is not a win for Oak Park.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 9:51 AM

Hemmingway Bistro is a lovely restaurant, very charming and comfortable and good food - I know a number of folks who are regular patrons. It's quite popular. My guess is that by far the vast majority of those who patronize the restaurant are locals, rather than those staying in the hotel anyhow, and since the HF patrons have a separate entrance, that - in and of itself - should not impact business at the restaurant very much at all. Hopefully they can survive an indoor season in this time of coronavirus!

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 9:16 AM

Bill Maxwell appears to be genuine. His Tommy McCoy persona was fake.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 9:12 AM

Ada -it takes courage to post a comment here and expose yourself to the peanut gallery and cheap shots. Bill is a fake persona, the second or third one used by whoever that person is. No need to spend much effort debating with him, or her. Just ignore the catfish.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 8:48 AM

Don't get your panties in a wad Bill - the term is comedic. If it were my intent to be angry and nasty - that is definitely not the term I would use.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 8:09 AM

I hesitated to mention this, as WJ has had to endure a succession of clowns taking pot shots at its journalistic efforts in these challenging times. But with respect, I have to say that the lede reads like a press release, which is unfortunate. The article also would have really benefitted from comment by the hotel's owner, James Bushouse. While I can assume the answer, I'd have liked to hear from him his reasoning for leasing out his entire hotel as a homeless shelter. Can't imagine it was part of his business plan.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 6:22 AM

Bruce - I fear you are right about the restaurant, as it can't possibly help them and takes away the opportunity for them to have some amount of paying patrons from the hotel each evening. It is not a positive for that whole business section of town, as these are not potential shoppers being added. This is a trend that some welcome, while they live in other parts of town and watch from afar. It would cost far less to provide shelter in less expensive places, like Chicago, which is where the people are coming from anyway. And then there could be more shelter for the people who need it.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: October 5th, 2020 1:00 AM

Ada Johnson Tikkanen I would not want to know you if you tell a person to shut their pie hole. I would ask the person what they meant before allowing yourself to be twisted like a pretzel. I may rub some people the wrong way although I certainly do not mean to. Maybe your Father came across my Father, if he started his way from North Africa. and fought in 7 successful Beach Head landings under fire and it would have been 8th although to many Soldiers were dropping from the pill boxes during that battle. It was called Shell Shock at that time and later PTSD and add in lasting illnesses from being in different environments. I still do not understand what your disagreement is with the hotel and realistically I agree with Bruce Kline that the restaurant will not be flourishing with meal seekers although I never noticed when it was. There use to be a flop hotel on Austin near South Boulevard in Oak Park and there was the flop hotel on Marion street. Then Oak Park started to clean up the town. The owner and the group providing shelter have made a deal and it may not be in the best location especially for the surrounding areas of the location although some how the deal seems to have snuck up on everyone or maybe it was mentioned before or maybe a private business does not need to go through a board meeting. Regardless of the location, I do think helping people is good. We really do only have so much time on Earth, and as a friend of mine who taught me a lot of things and now is on life support, he will pass through this life without anyone knowing who he was or what he did or even a mention in an obit, or a name on a wall, and it makes me think maybe it is good that a town tries to leave a little something behind that is worthwhile. No names, just an act of a town saying we cared. I know, very simplistic and not my property value possibly going down. If I stepped on another nerve, it certainly was not my intention, Ada

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 4th, 2020 10:43 PM

Bruce - so unfortunate and true.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 4th, 2020 10:29 PM

and I think this would be a wonderful use of Housing Forward funds - considering people could basically do what they are currently offering in an Internet search at a free computer in the library.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 4th, 2020 10:25 PM

Bill - if you knew me - you'd shut your pie hole. There is a lot I do in this community under the radar - which I prefer to keep to myself. I don't think bringing up the fact that what I learn from people when we're talking, when I'm doing what every person who can should be doing is flaunting. I honestly prefer not to discuss it. And my father fought in the Battle of the Bulge and raised me off his PTSD - so yeah - I do have a pull up you boot straps notion of survival. I want a place for people to be able to survive comfortably and temporarily - until they can get their feet back under them. I believe in safety nets for survival. It's called transitional for a reason - b/c you're not meant to be in this scenario forever. It's meant to lift you into the next phase of your life.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: October 4th, 2020 10:23 PM

That deal IMO just put an end to that restaurant.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: October 4th, 2020 9:51 PM

Ada Johnson Tikkanen you should have just started off writing you do not like the owner making money. I think you may have liked the Military style of living back about 50 years ago. It was barracks, double bucks, two floors, early to bed and extra early to rise. It was very efficient and there probably is some new way of housing several people in a small space. The main problem is finding a location in Oak Park. I do not like the go fund me type of businesses. They take a percentage which means less for the actual cause. Its nice you give money to people although what you do for others never needs to be mentioned is what I learned. So we are back to where the story started and like William Dwyer Jr. mentioned there is a lack of resources for a story while reporters are out learning about million dollar projects and no more of those investigative type of stories that people enjoyed. I do not think Oak Park really has the desire to put in a temporary housing project and that is why I do appreciate the efforts being put forward and it is much more stable than moving shelter to shelter. There are social programs available for pan handlers although it is very difficult to research when the day is spent trying to get enough money for a night of shelter. That is where this program I think will have time to help people transition to a more permanent place to live and apply for social programs because not everyone can pull themselves up by their boot straps when they do not even have boots. Besides, the owner from how I understand the story is taking less money than if it was a daily rate, and again, you can still continue enjoying a meal at the restaurant

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 4th, 2020 9:17 PM

here's an idea - find an affordable building in an affordable area. Get Housing Forward to organize a Go Fund Me to buy this affordable building. Turn this affordable building into micro apts. for transitional homeless. One small unit per family. Bunk beds down one wall with a privacy curtain. Small kitchenette with apt. size range and sink. Small communal area. 1 Bathroom with shower. Heat and Air - Laundry in the basement. First floor can house - Housing Forward, A Free health clinic, small quickmart which has food items which can sustain you and accepts food stamps. And it's meant to be temporary. I don't think this is a reach.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: October 4th, 2020 7:55 PM

Sounds like something a newspaper should delve into. If newspapers still had the resources.

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 4th, 2020 6:23 PM

sorry Bill - didn't work - if they guy wanted more than a creepy hotel - he would have done it - now he's making money for homeless people to live in a creepy hotel. I daily give enough money to homeless people to stay where they want. And according to the 5 or so a day that I talk to - they prefer the South Loop shelters. I wish this guy who owns this hotel would sell it to someone who could do more of it. I would prefer bringing income into this community - which could pay for a designated community center somewhere within this area which could probably provide even more comfort than people would receive here. This place could do more for our community as a boutique hotel IMO.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: October 4th, 2020 4:35 PM

No need to celebrate this Ada Johnson Tikkanen. What is nice is since the pandemic is here and traveling has dropped and that means hotel occupancy is very low that it gives a way to not only give income to a hotel, it gives housing and with the Winter coming this is good news for people who are homeless. As far as it being a creepy type of hotel, well maybe you do not recall or have been in many of the transient hotels that filled Chicago, across the country in populated areas and even in Oak Park. I never have been one to care much about space and a cot in a room would be enough and this is even better. I am sure you are all in favor of the homeless and if you have a better more stable housing idea then please sure it. At this time even visiting the Jewel of the World, Oak Park, has slowed down to a crawl. Maybe this program with give ideas to others who want to provide shelter for people who need it and as it develops there will be a learning process. In the mean time, you can go over and enjoy a fine meal at the restaurant and you will not even mix with the residents since they come in through the back door

Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 4th, 2020 4:15 PM

forgive me if I don't celebrate this. This hotel has the potential to be one of the best boutique hotels anywhere in this world. Anywhere. Hemmingway's is fabulous. I go to another world when I'm there. Another place and time - a very lovely experience. But that hotel has the atmosphere if an hourly rate motel. Creepy, smelly, dark, dank, gross and unkept. So I can't wrap my head around the fact that we are celebrating the fact that someone who doesn't feel the need to do more with this creepy hotel...doesn't. Now it's going to be a homeless shelter. I can't celebrate that. When it has the potential to bring income into this village...and bring tourism into this village. And I won't even answer to responses who say I'm anti-homeless - b/c it's one of my top missions. So don't...please.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: September 30th, 2020 4:08 PM

This is an excellent way to help people who are homeless although the story could have been better explained It mentions that 20 percent who call in are diverted although does not say where they are diverted which if that was known maybe readers would have some helpful ideas It gives a certain amount of time that people are able to stay in the hotel rooms although does not go into detail where the people after their time is up in the hotel are moved to I understand there is a lot of problems that need to be answered and this is an excellent way that a hotel can earn money and homeless people who qualify are able to have a place to live I hope as we continue that more real affordable housing will become available and that social programs will be brought back from the days when the Gipper got rid of social programs back in the 80's to balance the budget This is hope that people who care about others can build on

Kate O'Keefe  

Posted: September 30th, 2020 2:53 PM

Glad to see this. Much better than people moving from church to church and sleeping on pads. I hope this can be our community's new model for supporting residents experiencing homelessness going forward.

Sarah Abboreno Corbin  

Posted: September 30th, 2020 9:22 AM

Really really proud to have this happening in Oak Park! Congratulations to Housing Forward for this amazing effort. I am, yet again, crying because of the kindness of people to help those who need it most.

Teri MIller  

Posted: September 30th, 2020 9:17 AM

This is great news!

Jim Kelly  

Posted: September 29th, 2020 7:21 PM

Wonderful idea!

Jennifer Riegler McNulty  

Posted: September 29th, 2020 7:14 PM

I applaud HF for their continued efforts to help those that are housing insecure. And a Write Inn partnership is a wonderful idea during these unprecedented times.

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