Pain and Discrimination in Uptown

We only arrived back in Chicago about a month ago, but it already seems like we've been here for months! Those relaxing and quiet 2 months we spent in New Zealand, catching up and chilling with friends and family, now seem like a distant pleasant memory.

We returned only to again be struck by the injustice, turmoil, and chaos of Uptown! We cannot dodge or ignore Chicago's crooked politicians, it's power hungry real estate gangsters, the city's bureaucratic intolerance of the poor and how she outright bullies, demonizes and casts aside anyone who doesn't fit their classist and racist mode! We returned to seeing and feeling the pain of our homeless brothers and sisters who are being trampled down, stomped on and lied to again by the powers-that-be!

People are in pain! People are scared! Those living under the Lake Shore Drive bridges in tents are about to be evicted and scattered. Those living in the Wilson Men's Hotel are about to be evicted and given little options.

People are in pain! People are scared! Affordable housing is vanishing from our ward and I care deeply about the people who are affected by it. Yesterday, I had 3 guys from the Wilson Men's Hotel freaking out and begging for my help, because they don't know where to go and want to stay in Uptown. Last Friday I was under the Lawrence viaduct, and there were over 10 people who expressed the same fear. Every day at work I see and hear the same pain and struggle; people feel they are being discriminated against and pushed out of Uptown.

In my previous blog post, Housing Discrimination, I wrote about how it's nearly impossible for those experiencing homelessness to find housing in the 46th ward, even though they'd love to stay. In our climate of retribution and judgment, in our climate of locking people up instead of giving people second chances, people need support, people need hope, people need compassion!

Today, as I wandered around the neighborhood and the shelter, I was encouraged! Even though the pain is real, there is a lot of encouragement and compassion for those who are being discriminated against. I love seeing the wide variety of people standing up, fighting for and even getting arrested for those experiencing homelessness. The obstacles often seem insurmountable, but there is hope! Hope is here because God never forgets about the downtrodden and forsaken and because of all the people who rally together in opposition to the ones who love to crush the downtrodden and forsaken. Hope is here because people without power have a strong love, a deep conviction, and an unrelenting compassion for the "least of these", and are willing to sacrifice, unite with one another and let their voices be heard. Hope is here and progress is happening.

Since returning from New Zealand, I also have hope; a hope that tells me not to surrender! God never gives up on us and this encourages me to keep on fighting and to see His movement in the storm. In the past week, I know of 5 people who have successfully gone from homeless to housed. Two guys are successfully moving on Friday, and today, I was able to help another brother guarantee that he'll move into his new crib on October 1st. Hope is alive and well in Uptown!

One of the couples who just moved, I have known for well over a decade. I have seen their pain and turmoil. I have seen the community rally for them. I have seen them rally together for others. I have seen them fight and not give in. I have seen how activists advocated for them, I have seen how churches fed them, I have seen how a random stranger gave them money for household items, I have seen how organizations assisted them and made sure they successfully moved. I have seen how a myriad of people never forgot them and shower them with compassion. I have seen a "ground-on-up" movement for this couple and all those experiencing homelessness in Uptown, and this gives me hope.

When Abdul and Paula moved into their crib last week, it re-boosted my hope! It renewed my energy, and it showed me that all our efforts have not been in vain and God has not forgotten His children. The smiles on their faces said it all; they are out of a tent and in a home!

Through the storm, progress happens and God is moving in our midst, we mustn't forget that!

Keep hope alive!
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