Issue Task Forces
Linda J. Slavik
Office Wish List
Hit Counter started 7/1/01
ALLIES CALL TO ACTION
LAC Homeless Youth/Police Relations Task Force is calling on our 20 Youth
Allies to suport a youth at several upcoming court dates.
Youth and Police Relations
Sergeant Training: At the end of January, LAC representatives met with Superintendent Cline to seek his approval for the Sergeant Training on Understanding Youth Homelessness that we have created in partnership with the 23rd and 19th police districts. We won his approval but it had to go through legal affairs. After four weeks of hearing nothing and numerous unreturned phone calls, we were starting to wonder how real that approval was.
Our task force decided that the community had to voice their support, so our members asked their congregations, non-profits and others to send letters of support. In one week, we pulled in over 150 letters of support, many of which letters were on behalf of a whole congregation or agency. We got a call back that afternoon! The letters clearly had an impact. We are meeting with legal affairs on Monday, March 13th to work out the details of the training and ensure their commitment to the full implementation of the training as soon as possible.
Youth Allies: St. Peter’s Episcopal, St. Alphonsus Catholic, Holy Covenant Methodist, Holy Trinity Lutheran, Bethlehem UCC, Broadway United Methodist, Youth Pride Center, The Night Ministry, Counseling Center of Lakeview, and Alderman Tom Tunney are all officially signed on as Youth Allies! Several other congregations and non-profits are in the process of becoming a Youth Ally. Congregations, businesses and non-profits are becoming Youth Allies in order to build a network of groups who are working together to address youth homelessness and prevent abuse or harassment of youth.
Incident Reports: We continue to collect between 10 and 20 reports of police misconduct every month from homeless and other vulnerable youth, including incidents of racial profiling, illegal searches, verbal abuse, threats of having drugs planted or of physical violence.
Homeless Youth and Police Relations
- background information
- background information
At the 2004 LAC
October Convention, most of you heard for the first time about the work of
LAC’s newest task force – Homeless Youth and Police Relations. Our Homeless Youth Task Force
is a developing group made up of youth, service providers, congregation members,
and partnering community organizations.
Over the course of a year, approximately 26,000
youth in Illinois, and between 12,000 and 15,000 in Chicago, experience
homelessness. Lakeview has long
been a gathering place for many of these youth from around the city and the
experiencing homelessness are between the ages of 8 and 21 and have often left
home or been forced out of their homes because of serious family problems.
Youth often become homeless because of a constellation of family and
personal issues that coalesce, making them particularly vulnerable to
exploitation and victimization. Pregnant
and parenting teens, former and current wards, and youth who identify as
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or questioning (LGBTQ) are a
disproportionately high segment of the population.
Homeless youth, particularly those with
persistent experiences, have difficulty garnering the resources to
their basic needs, and have a high likelihood of being physically or
sexually victimized. They are also
particularly susceptible to harmful activities, such as
in substance abuse, unprotected sexual activity, and delinquency, in part
because of insufficient alternative resources and their consequent survival
strategies on the streets.
There are many service agencies that work
with youth in the area to meet their basic needs, including some of our members and partners – The Night Ministry,
Counseling Center of Lakeview, Center on Halsted, Chicago Coalition for the
Homeless, and Chicago Gay Youth.
available resources for homeless youth do
not come close to meeting the need for housing, mental health services,
care, material and emotional support, and education or employment opportunities.
There is a great deal
of room for increased community involvement, especially from Lakeview Action
Coalition members, who are so dedicated to seeking justice in our community.
Unfortunately, in the past few years, there has been an increasing verbal and physical effort to sweep youth and other people experiencing homelessness out of Lakeview. This climate has led to a heightened amount of scrutiny, harassment and abuse against the homeless, especially homeless youth. In particular, as homeless youth work to create more stable lives, we have seen and heard from youth that their relationship with the police is often a hindrance rather than a boon to success.
In light of this,
LAC’s homeless youth task force is working collaboratively with our police
commanders, Alderman Tunney, city offices and other legislators to address the
issue of how police relate to our community and in particular homeless youth.
Our goals include ensuring the
safety and human rights of homeless youth and bridging youth to services and
resources by building a network of relationships within the community and police
Through education forums at congregations, we are building
relationships between agencies and congregations and promoting increased
awareness and volunteerism. We have
already done six education forums - at Broadway United Methodist, St. Peter's
Episcopalian, Holy Trinity Lutheran, Holy Covenant Methodist, St. Alphonsus
Catholic, and Resurrection Lutheran Church. With community leaders
from these institutions and others, we will build a united group to develop strategies and
tactics to work with police to decrease abuse and increase referrals to
services. In addition, we are
creating a space where a core group of youth can feel empowered to be a part of
making change, because they are a part of this larger group.
What you can do to get involved:
Read the report on homeless youth
recently released by The Center for Impact Research to learn
more – find it at www.impactresearch.org (click on publications)
Join other Lakeview congregations,
non-profits and businesses who are taking action:
Ask your congregation, non-profit or business to become a Youth Ally, making a public statement of commitment and affirmation:
· “We affirm that youth deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and be safe from abuse”
· “We are committed to working to address youth homelessness and prevent/stop abuse or harassment of youth”
When your institution becomes a Youth Ally you will receive a poster that will display the statements above, which you can hang in a window or visible space. LAC will provide training, resource packets, and support for your congregation taking action to support homeless youth and educating its members about this issue.
Volunteer at local non-profits and service agencies
to learn more and provide direct service. It’s
also a great way to build community - do it with a group of friends or people
from your congregation! (Some
volunteer opportunities listed below)
Host an education forum
at your congregation or institution – we’ll provide speakers and you
provide the people! Learn more
about homeless youth issues in our community and what you can do to help.
Call Alyssa Siegel at LAC for more information and to see how you can get involved! (773) 549-1947 x385 or firstname.lastname@example.org
· Watch for Action Alerts from LAC’s Homeless Youth and Police Relations Task Force to know how you can be part of systemically addressing these issues
· Designate a representative or a team of lay leaders to be involved with LAC’s Homeless Youth and Police Relations Task Force
Cook a meal, help
distribute food and supplies, and get to know the youth of our community.
Contact Joan McPherson, (773)
784-9000 x6004, email@example.com
Youth education and help with social events: contact Jeff
Souva, (773) 472-6469,
firstname.lastname@example.org or Frank Walker, email@example.com
Participate in recreational and artistic group activities with
youth: contact Lisa Thompson, Blue Sky Inn, (773) 710-7346,
Bring donations of supplies to 4711 N. Ravenswood, the Night
Ministry administrative office. We
especially appreciate socks, toiletries and battery-operated alarm clocks. Items
such as furniture, housewares or clothing should be dropped off at the Brown
Elephant Thrift Store at 3651 N. Halsted St., or call (773) 549-5943 for a free
pick-up. The Night Ministry works
with the Brown Elephant to meet the clothing and household setup needs of our
Make financial donations to the Lakeview Action
Coalition to help us continue the work of our Homeless Youth and Police
Relations Task Force! Send checks to Lakeview Action Coalition, 3225 N.
Sheffield, Chicago, IL 60640, with a note marking it for the Homeless
Youth/Police Relations Task Force.
Organize donations: Run a drive for donations, or host a
party to collect them. Contact
Alyssa Siegel at LAC for support.