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  1. The good reverend should put up these homeless in his own home if he feels so compelled to help them. Frankly I’m tired of venturing downtown and being asked for money or food every other block I walk. These people are starting to trickle into the Central Street corridor as well. This is not the Evanston I moved to, nor do I expect to live in.

  2. “And, just in case you are ill-informed…” Well, look who is talking! I guess it’s fine to smear people who don’t agree with you and have made legitimate and fact-based arguments for their case. Your language gives you away.
    “The location is the right one – downtown, near services.” What services for the homeless are near this shelter? A food pantry? Social services? Health care? I don’t think local homes and businesses should be forced to deal with the natural consequences of a population that doesn’t get the support they need at their residence. A shelter located in a neighborhood should supply full support for, and take responsibility for, its constituents.

  3. Sorry Michael, you, and many others, are sadly misinformed. You apparently have NOT done PROPER due diligence on the “Housing First” model and what successful use of that model REQUIRES, nor the ways in which Connections for the Homeless Inc. is misusing this model at the Margarita Inn location. Your letter reeks of ignorant intolerance for those who hold different opinions, which itself is a SPIRITUAL SICKNESS, as is a “holier than thou” attitude. “NIMBYism and a desire to punish people who have already borne the brunt of our society’s cruelty” is NOT what is motivating those who oppose the applications of Connections for the Homeless Inc. pending before the City of Evanston, including Evanston’s City Council. The most recent hearing before the City of Evanston Land Use Commission, which you denigrate, dismiss, and inaccurately refer to as a “private hearing,” was in FACT, a PUBLIC Hearing as ordered by a Cook County Judge in accordance with DUE PROCESS as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The “Good Neighbor Agreement” which Mayor Daniel Biss prematurely, and inappropriately, signed, has duly been noted by others as “toothless,” but from the tenor, tone, and content of your letter, Michael, it appears you want to steamroller neighbors of the Margarita Inn and others, as well as the Evanston City Council, into allowing Connections for the Homeless Inc. to have carte blanche in operating the Margarita Inn. Sorry, that’s NOT how it works. The City of Evanston, its Mayor and City Council, as well as Connections for the Homeless Inc., are going to be held accountable, and liable, now and in the future, in accordance with the law. Just passively allowing ANY corporation, including Connections for the Homeless Inc., to operate a shared-housing facility for the “homeless” at the Margarita Inn, in the way it proposes, and is currently, is irresponsible, and legally, ethically, and morally, inappropriate, particularly when that corporation receives much of its funding from governmental sources. The City of Evanston needs to offer its homeless population proper housing, and medical care, including treatment for substance abuse issues and mental illness. Unfortunately, what Connections for the Homeless Inc., proposes, and offers, at the Margarita Inn location, falls far short of what the homeless in Evanston deserve or need. You, and Connections for the Homeless Inc., need to do more PROPER “due diligence” which includes TALKING with the NEIGHBORS of the Margarita Inn who drafted the new proposed “Good Neighbor Agreement” to which you object (and parts of which I also differ). But PLEASE, cease spewing the vitriol and disinformation evident in your letter above. Last time I checked, the Good Book still says “Love Thy Neighbor.”

  4. Dear Rev. Woolf , I am aware of virtue signaling in which we put up lawn signs to indicate how morally superior we are. I’ve heard of moral grandstanding which is pretty much the same. But until your letter I hadn’t heard of spiritual shaming in order to promote what you believe in

  5. This op/ed is full of racist and religious discriminatory undertones. Suggesting indirectly that Mr. Halim who is an Egyptian immigrant and a part of the Coptic Orthodox church has a “spiritual sickness” is beyond the pale. This op/ed should be retracted and an immediate apology be made to Mr Halim and his family.

    1. I’m shocked, Tom, that it was published – it comes off as “unhinged.” Those of us that have been working for months now to provide input via our alternative “Good Neighbor Agreement” for the Margarita Inn are hardly suffering from a “spiritual sickness”. We’ve all put in many hours of research, outreach, and effort (at times it’s been grueling) into crafting it – our *prime concern* is the safety and well – being of Margarita guests, staff, and the greater Evanston community. If we truly “didn’t care”, we would not have put forth the effort – instead we would be blaring “NO!” to *any* possibility of the Margarita remaining a shelter. Yet, Connections called our hard work a “PR stunt” (when I initially reached out to Connections about our proposed GNA, I got “crickets”), and our characters are insulted by the ill – advised comments of Michael Woolf above…

      The above letter is certainly not a productive way to “build bridges” with the community…

      Gregory Morrow – Evanston 4th Ward resident

  6. Dear Reverend Woolf,

    You wrote:
    “ It’s time to stop private hearings for the rich who can afford lawyers to stymie this process and ignore cruel demands.”

    Connections for the Homeless has a budget that much larger than many of the neighbors who contributed to the GNA. Their lawyers are some the highest paid lawyers in chicago. Furthermore, I entreat you to read the neighbor drafted GNA. It asks for things like “cameras for the residents own protection” and , “mental, physical, and financial therapy, coaching, and counseling” on site. I am baffled at how these requests could be read as cruel demands by a man of the cloth.

  7. I am a Margarita Inn neighbor (living within 500 feet), a survivor of homelessness, and a former Connections employee. I am also part of the neighborhood group that worked to craft an alternative – and equitable – “Good Neighbor Agreement” – the *primary* focus of which is to foster the health, safety, and stability of Margarita homeless guests…

    Tom Wolf (President: Pacific Alliance For Prevention And Recovery, and a survivor of homelessness), spoke at the 04/26/2023 Land Use Commission hearing, and his complete submitted document can be found at: “1566 Oak Avenue – Exhibits Submitted on 4/24/2023”; link below and some excerpts:

    “My colleagues and coworkers in San Francisco, Portland, and Denver have been watching the events of the Margarita Inn unfold over the past 2+ years. The history of this application, Connections for the Homeless logic, requests, as well as their relationship with the neighbors are eerily familiar. This is because we were in the same meetings with a non-profit just like Connections, oftentimes with a partner just like “Interfaith.” We’ve attended the same meetings and heard the boilerplate answers given by HUD – funded nonprofits…

    We know and have experienced the situation in front of you, and if you look at our cities, you will see, in real time, what you can expect to find in Evanston if Connections for the Homeless continues to skate through local government. If you fast – forward 30 years Evanston will look like our cities…

    Connections has used a broad brush to label those opposed to a low barrier homeless shelter in their community as NIMBYS who “hate the homeless”- those who lack inclusivity and are racist. This is the standard tried – and – true technique powerful non-profits use to manipulate communities and detractors into silence and, therefore, compliance…”

    1. Wow, and yet you use a broad brush to paint the consequences of Connections’ request as leading to Evanston becoming something akin to San Francisco in 30 years.

      The rest of you are all using typical coded language and disparaging the people fighting for homeless as virtue signalers and having disdain for for the other side’s opinions. Y’all are just covering for your NIMBY-ism.