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Tent City Kicked Out Of Uptown By City Officials

By Mae Rice in News on Sep 26, 2016 7:00PM

City officials evicted a tent city from a street near an Uptown elementary school on Monday morning. Stewart Elementary School has been closed since 2013, and Chicago's Board of Education recently sold the land it occupies to private developers, who reportedly plan to redevelop it into condominiums.

"It looked like about 50 people," Alan Mills, Executive Director of the Uptown People's Law Center, told Chicagoist. Mills noted that the tent city wasn't occupying the private developer's land, either—they were evicted from public property, a public street, a move likely spurred by the developers acquiring demolition permits for the school.

It's especially remarkable given the city's commitment, last spring, to resolving Chicago's homelessness crisis. Mayor Rahm Emanuel created an elaborate task force and loudly stated that affordable housing was A Priority.

As of this morning, though, police were "physically removing" tent city residents from the street, "asking people to pack up their whole lives and move them to nowhere."

Here, a resident of the tent city, once a janitor at Stewart Elementary School, discusses the land's sudden sale to private developers. He calls the sale of the property "truly underhanded," framing it as a sign that Rahm Emanuel values cash over education:

This particular tent city began in April, according to Mills, when Chicago weather first started warming up. He and his firm work with tent city residents throughout Chicago, and he noted that people take up residence in tent cities for various reasons: "They lost their jobs, they lost their housing, sometimes dealing with mental illness, sometimes simple unemployment."

Supporters and residents of the erstwhile tent city have planned a march for affordable housing for next Monday.