I am writing to balance out some of the opposition to the application of Connections for the Homeless to make the Margarita Inn a more permanent site for the work they do providing housing and services to Evanston’s unhoused population.

Evanston-based nonprofit Connections for the Homeless began housing homeless people at the Margarita Inn two years ago. Credit: Adina Keeling

I feel there has been a great deal of adverse messaging and coverage, and I would like your readership to know that there are neighbors of the Inn who fully support this organization and the necessary services they provide.

I am a property owner across the alley from the Margarita Inn and thus qualify as a close-in neighbor and interested party. In addition, I walk to and from the lake and downtown businesses and the Davis Street el station every day, often twice a day and often during late evening and nighttime hours.

I am, therefore, thoroughly conversant with who is on the street, where and when. The panhandlers I encounter daily are never aggressive nor insistent nor are they residents of the Margarita Inn. They are, as are the residents of the Inn, people who are the victims of an unequal society where so many start out in life without the advantages many Evanstonians take for granted.

Surely a city that prides itself itself on being open, welcoming, liberal and caring should be supporting Connections: an organization that seeks to help stabilize those Evanstonians who are in need of the mental health counseling, health care services, financial counseling and temporary housing that are provided at the Inn.

Who else is helping to find permanent housing for the unhoused population in downtown Evanston? Who else is ensuring that people not only have a base (housing) from which to move forward but also have the wraparound services that can keep them off the streets?

The residents of the Margarita Inn are citizens of this city, no different from the rest of us. They are in need of compassion, not demonization; help, not prejudice; a leg up, not a stiff arm. 

I urge others to show their support for this worthy organization.


Sharon Pines

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  1. I think the Good Neighbor Agreement which is in the works along the improvement CFH has made operating the Inn has improved from the two years prior. I too live down the alley from the Inn. I walk everywhere and have seen a tremendous amount. Plus, my home office faces the alley.
    I focus on the positive and there are positives. But, there have also been some issues. Back in July 2021, one of my dogs was poisoned by an “edible” right in front of me as we walked (could have been unintentionally) by a resident of the Inn. My little dog survived after a hefty vet bill that set me back- as did the obscene Evanston property taxes. I did let my alderman know of this at the time and it took 8 months to get a response. As far as panhandlers who reside at the Inn – I personally know of two. Both are no longer living there and usually are the first shift outside Benisons. One of the guys said he was kicked out of the Inn, and the other I do not know why he is no longer there. It should be noted that neither of these men are aggressive panhandlers but are drunk by mid-afternoon out front the post office. One of these men (while he was still a resident and panhandling) I did let Betty Bogg know was the same man who I had on video shouting random obscenities at me for no reason. I believe she did address the situation.
    I am not advocating one way or another – but let’s be clear and acknowledge there have been issues and they appear to be improving on the safety front. I am lucky that I can see any hot button issue from many points of view and hope others will too.
    Please be kind to each other and make no judgment for those who have a lot, have some, and have nothing and do not share all the same values. At the end of the day – most of want the same thing.