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On the Streets, In the City

By Scott Smith in News on Dec 4, 2006 5:57PM

2006_12_rhypolice.jpgA report due this week — and an accompanying rally — is intended to bring attention to the problem of harassment of runaway and homeless youth on Chicago’s North Side.

The report compiled by the Lakeview Action Coalition contains 200 complaints from 112 homeless youth who allege verbal and physical harassment as well as theft. Gay and transgendered youth, in particular, experience greater harrassment. Police say they are making efforts to reach out to youth and the LAC, but mistrust of the police by youth and difficulties with follow-up mean change has been slow. More information about LAC’s joint forums with CPD here.

The Lakeview Action Coalition engages in social work advocacy around the issues of affordable housing, homeless youth, hate crimes and health care. Its most recent initiative resulted in placing a balanced housing development referendum on the November ballot in six city precincts.

Tomorrow's rally will be held at the Lakeview Presbyterian Church at 716 W. Addison at 6 p.m. A press conference will be held and the rally will continue throughout the neighborhood until 7:30.

Historically, the Lakeview area has attracted many runaway and homeless youth, locally and nationally. Though the area still hosts a large number of homeless and runaway youth due to the number of service providers in the neighborhood, the numbers have decreased in recent years and harassment by police has been cited as one reason.

Last year, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless released a study that showed that the number of homeless teens in the state was increasing, but homelessness in this population was down in the city itself.

Full disclosure: this writer works at an organization in the city of Chicago that assists runaway and homeless youth.

Image from "This City Is Our Home," an exhibit of paintings, essays and photos by homeless youth in Chicago.