Regarding “A Dumping Ground for the Poor?” published in the October 14 Reader, it seems Ben Joravsky may need to do more research before writing his articles. He especially misses the mark in his fourth paragraph when describing the 7600 block of Paulina: “now occupied by two social service agencies and a weed-filled vacant lot.” Not only is there also a grocery store, a U.S. post office, a coffee shop, and a medical facility (Rogers Park One-Day Surgical Center) on the block, but the lot he speaks of is neither vacant nor weed filled.
The lot in question is a gravel parking lot belonging to the Good News Community Church and is used by staff, members, and volunteers of the church, the Howard Area Alternative High School, Howard Area Community Center, and the Good News Community Kitchen. Every third Monday of each month the lot also serves as the distribution point for the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s Producemobile, bringing 20-30 pounds of food to each of over 200 families in need. There are three garden boxes in the lot put together by students from the high school and the Chicago Green Corps, a flower bed near the high school entrance, flowers all along the west-end fence, and a tree probably older than any resident of North of Howard. There are some weeds, but as any gardener or anyone with a plot knows, battling weeds is a constant effort.
Opponents of affordable housing get the weight of quotes in this article, including fearmongering rhetoric comparing the idea of affordable housing to “Cabrini-Green, Robert Taylor, Henry Horner” on a four-to-one ratio. The article doesn’t make clear how the crime statistics compare with those of other Chicago neighborhoods mentioned, like Lakeview or Wicker Park, nor comparisons with years past. And though it infers more affordable housing would continue or increase current crime trends, there is nothing to support that notion.
We are encouraged to hear that Mike Luckenbach and friends are “not against the poor, and we’re not against social service agencies either.” At the Good News Community Kitchen, we serve an average of 150 meals every night, 365 days a year, to families that are working poor, seniors, and disabled who have to make a choice between paying rent or buying food, homeless individuals, and anyone in need, and serve in an atmosphere of dignity and respect for all within the kitchen. We’re always looking for volunteers that support that spirit of respect, and we warmly and openly invite Mr. Luckenbach, Mr. Fuschi, and Mr. Steward to come and serve with us.
Reverend Marilyn Pagan
Good News Community Church
Kevin J. Kintner
Director of operations
Good News Community Kitchen
Ben Joravsky replies:
I wrote that the only things on the Howard end of the 7600 block of North Paulina were two social service agencies and a weed-filled vacant lot. But since you raised the subject, I went back and counted all the businesses and agencies on the block. There were ten vacant storefronts, one alternative high school, and a parking lot. There were also four social-service agencies, a barber shop, a tax service, a post office, and a coffee shop–all closed even though it was 10 AM on a Saturday. And there were five places open for business–a currency exchange, a Certified grocery store, a diner specializing in Belizean food, a surgery center, and a storage facility. As for the vacant lot, the brush along the fence in the southeast corner is at least two feet high; the lot is littered with bottles, cans, plastic bags, and other trash.