Due to the uptick in violence in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago—specifically four stabbings—Lakeview residents are attempting to force out marginalized groups and organizations that support them. As such, the Night Ministry, a nonprofit organization that provides services to the homeless without regard to race, gender, sexual orientation or nationality, is now under fire as some residents believe it is attracting the “wrong” type of people to their neighborhood.
The Night Ministry is conscientious and understands that, more often than not, persons who are displaced lack the means to travel. Therefore, the Night Ministry brings their services to the streets of Chicago, several nights a week, to dispense meals and medical services from their van. Nevertheless, Lakeview residents have made numerous phone calls to Mitchell Feiger, CEO of MB Financial, to coax him into stopping the Night Ministry from administering services near MB Financial’s property as they see the homeless as an inconvenience.
The inconvenience is uprooting the Night Ministry and the people they serve—the people who will starve and succumb to elements of the night and inadequate medical attention. Give the homeless a voice—not an eviction notice. Tell Mitchell Feiger, CEO of MB Financial, the Night Ministry is right where it belongs!
Unfortunately—in an injudicious attempt to curb violence— Lakeview residents have targeted the Night Ministry and the homeless. Moreover, there have been no reports indicating that criminal activity has occurred on MB Financial’s parking lot; thus, Lakeview residents are now using the homeless as a scapegoat. Additionally, the known offenders of the stabbings, which have been arrested, have not been identified as displaced persons. Furthermore, several merchants are in negotiations with meeting the demands of the residents. And only 10 days after the CAPS neighborhood meeting held on July 6, 2011, statistics reflect that crime has drastically dropped citing only one incidence of aggravated battery as reported by the Chicago Police Department.
In 2009-2010, approximately 40,723 people experienced homelessness in Chicago. The Night Ministry, founded in Lakeview in 1976, has been operating for 20 years and has served in the Lakeview neighborhood for 10 years. In the face of shrinking federal funding, the Night Ministry continues to provide an array of services including housing, food, free healthcare, and self-care supplies to both displaced youth and adults. And in 2010, the Night Ministry’s dedicated volunteers served 99,105 meals from their van to homeless people on Chicago’s streets during the nighttime.
Dislocating the Night Ministry would have a disastrous impact on those who are homeless as they rely heavily on the Night Ministry for food, counseling, and shelter; furthermore, they have limited access to transportation. As indicated on your website, MB Financial Charitable Foundation is dedicated to strengthening the communities you serve with an emphasis on low-income households, medical and mental health treatment and research organizations, civic organizations concerned with neighborhood development, preservation and local social issues; and the Night Ministry falls within scope of the communities you support. Therefore, we urge you to continue demonstrating your support by granting the Night Ministry access to the space surrounding your establishment.