BUCKTOWN — After a contentious fight with some neighbors, The Night Ministry plans to open The Crib — an LGBTQ-friendly overnight youth shelter — in Bucktown this November.
The shelter, along with The Night Ministry’s administrative and medical outreach office staffers, will occupy the first, second and third floors at 1735 N. Ashland Ave.
Before The Night Ministry begins construction, however, the nonprofit will invite neighbors to tour the new site and ask questions.
The first of two informal open houses will be 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday. The second open house will be 4-6:30 p.m. May 30.
The open houses were detailed in a monthly newsletter distributed by Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd).
The Night Ministry has not listed the two open house events on its website, but senior associate of communications Burke Patten said the nonprofit made that decision on purpose.
“We are holding [the events] as another way to introduce The Night Ministry and its staff to the community we are joining,” Patten said. “As they are intended for the neighborhood, we are not publicizing them widely via our website or other channels.”
Earlier this year, news of The Crib pitted neighbors against each other. While some welcomed the idea of adding more social services to the neighborhood, others feared for the safety of the neighborhood’s children.
The Crib’s new home is sandwiched between the Kennedy Expressway and Walsh Park, and is adjacent to Jonathan Burr Elementary School.
Contending that the homeless shelter has a history of being “bad neighbors” to Lakeview families and pointing to a 2013 SWAT team response, some Bucktown residents pleaded with The Night Ministry to stop The Crib’s move to the neighborhood.
Some neighbors were more concerned with the way in which the news unfolded. The Night Ministry signed a 10-year lease to move into the building at 1735 N. Ashland Ave. in 2018, months before first engaging with the community.
Barbara Bolsen, vice president of strategic partnerships at The Night Ministry, said during several February meetings with residents that The Crib does not pose a threat to the children of Bucktown.
The Crib’s current digs are surrounded by nightclubs, bars and other entertainment venues in Boystown — factors the city’s Department of Family Services have said drive the neighborhood’s crime rate.
Furthermore, Bolsen assured residents the shelter’s primary reason for leaving Lakeview was logistical.
The shelter had outgrown its current location, a one-room basement with 21 mattresses on the floor at LakeView Lutheran Church, 835 W. Addison St., she said.
Bolsen stressed that the Crib’s guests were not the “homeless stereotype” some Bucktown residents might have had in mind.
“We want to prevent them from becoming chronically homeless,” she said. “Our goal is to catch them and protect them.”
On March 15, The Crib won approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals to open in Bucktown.
In response to resident concerns about safety, Waguespack worked with The Night Ministry to draft a plan of operation — a legally binding document that ensures that The Crib follows a list of rules and protocols.
The plan of operation can be viewed here.
About The Crib
The shelter’s residents are between the ages of 18 and 24 and often identify as LGBTQ.
Guests check in at 9 p.m. after reserving a bed through a smart phone app. The new location in Bucktown will offer a heated waiting area for guests.
At 9 a.m., The Crib transports residents to the nearest CTA train stop. Most head to work, school or social services programming in Lakeview, Bolsen said.
The Crib employs social workers and case managers trained in crisis intervention to staff the shelter from 7 p.m.-10 a.m. The plan of operation facilitated by Waguespack details protocols for how The Night Ministry staff will work with police in the event of criminal activity.
During the last quarter of 2018, the shelter housed an average of 15 young adults who are homeless per night. The average person stays in the shelter for 27 nights, Bolsen said.
Its current location in Lakeview has room for 21 guests. The Bucktown location will house the same.