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South Chicago, East Side

An Indiana Couple Has Been ‘Stuck’ On Chicagoland Streets All Year. A Southeast Sider Wants To Find Them A Home And Jobs

Frank and Ashley Redmon have been without a home or sustainable access to resources since January. East Side resident Jesse Bulmer, his church and family are working to get the couple what they need.

From left: Ashley Redmon, Jesse Bulmer and Frank Redmon pose for a picture Nov. 16.
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EAST SIDE — An East Side resident is rallying neighbors and appealing to the public to help an Indiana husband and wife who are down on their luck and looking for permanent housing.

Frank and Ashley Redmon, from Corydon, Indiana, were traveling in Chicagoland in January when their wallets and phones were stolen in the suburbs, they said. The couple, already struggling financially, was left without the little money they had or identification, Frank Redmon said.

“We pretty much just got stuck up here,” he said, adding that the couple didn’t have any friends or family to turn to and was out of gas. They lived out of their car for a few weeks before it was impounded and repossessed.

“It turned into a situation where we had no jobs, no money and no way to get back home,” Frank Redmon said.

A few weeks trying to get by turned into months. With the Redmons unable to return to Indiana and contribute to their expenses, their housemates were forced to put the couple’s items into storage and find other tenants. Then Frank Redmon’s parents died during the year: his dad from cancer, his mom from lupus.

For months, they’ve performed odd jobs and panhandled around the south suburbs to survive, living out of two backpacks and relying on strangers’ generosity.

“It’s been a nightmare,” Frank Redmon said.

Jesse Bulmer — a lifelong Southeast Sider who operates DJS Foam Party Services out of his East Side home — was among the passersby Frank Redmon asked for change Saturday outside the River Oaks Mall in Calumet City.

It’s the “cold, hard truth” that Bulmer didn’t pay attention to Frank Redmon at first, he said. It was Bulmer’s teenage daughter, Destiny, who stopped, asked if he wanted something to eat and asked her dad for money to give.

Later that day, Bulmer was “still thinking about Frank — it’s cold as heck outside, and this dude needs money for a room,” he said.

Bulmer tracked down Frank Redmon at a nearby gas station. After finding Ashley Redmon and picking her up, Bulmer offered to pay for food and a room for the night. He promised to bring them to his church — Anthem Church in Hammond, Indiana — the next morning for money and supplies.

“The next morning he took us to church, introduced us to the pastor and the rest of the people at the church, and got me a job working for the church for a week to earn [a] room,” Frank Redmon said.

Anthem Church paid for a few more days in the hotel room and churchgoers donated clothes, while Bulmer put up more of his own money and extended the Redmons’ stay to a full week. They’ll leave the hotel Sunday, and now, Bulmer is urging others to step up and find the Redmons a more permanent solution.

“We need a social worker or someone to find a place for them. The No. 1 thing is to find a place,” Bulmer said. “Me and the church, we bought seven days for them, but we can’t rest until they’re not worrying about the next seven days.”

To offer connections to housing, social services and other needed resources, call Bulmer at 773-559-4501.

To donate clothes, call Anthem Church at 219-803-6713 and arrange a dropoff at the church, 6947 Hohman Ave. in Hammond, Indiana. Preferred sizes:

  • Shirts in men’s large and women’s large and or extra large.
  • Pants in men’s 32 waist and 34 length and women’s 10 or 12.
  • Shoes in men’s 12 and women’s 7.5 or 8.

Money can be donated to the Redmons through Bulmer’s CashApp account, $JesseBulmer, or Zelle using Bulmer’s phone number, 773-559-4501.

People who haven’t experienced housing insecurity or financial emergencies may not understand how tough it is to find consistent assistance, Frank Redmon said.

Passersby would suggest Redmon ask police officers for rides or shelter or call around to churches for money and supplies, he said. These tips never worked out — particularly in the case of the churches, who are “financially struggling themselves” through the pandemic, he said.

Shelters frequently separate genders, a situation the Redmons weren’t comfortable with.

A military veteran, Frank Redmon recounted one time they walked 5 miles to an American Legion outpost for financial assistance. But they couldn’t get help because he didn’t have his military service record on hand.

“Why would you not mention the most important thing, and have me come all the way over here just to tell me, ‘Sorry, have a good day’?” Frank Redmon said. “There’s not enough programs to help people get back on their feet, without making them struggle to meet the minimum requirements to even start the process.”

Given the lack of options for institutional help, community members pitching in what they can seems like the most sustainable option, Bulmer said.

“I just don’t wanna help him just for a week or two weeks; I want to help him for a lifetime,” Bulmer said. “I’d like to get an apartment [for] them, a car, a stable job, new clothes, shoes, haircuts; to get them back in the world again, living again. That’s our goal here.”

If the Redmons can get the help they need, they want to pay that forward by consistently working and attending church, where they’d like to start a ministry helping others experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity.

The Redmons’ priority is finding a stable home and employment regardless of location, but they’ve discussed “starting over” on or near the Southeast Side.

In a few short days since their introduction, Bulmer and the Redmons have become like family. Bulmer is “an older brother I never had” — an example to the world “that people still care about people,” Frank Redmon said.

“Jesse and his family, they’re the ones who have been the heavy hitters, shining out for Chi-town and showing big love from the big city,” Frank Redmon said. “He’s showing the love of God, not only in himself, but in everybody.”

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