5th Ward residents talk housing insecurity, budget concerns and crime


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Ald. Robin Rue Simmons (5th) at a City Council meeting in 2018. Rue Simmons discussed Black reparations and Japanese American redress with writer John Tateishi in a virtual Day of Remembrance event Sunday.

Andrew Myers, Reporter

Ald. Robin Rue Simmons (5th) addressed housing insecurity, updates to a proposed local skate park and an uptick in crime at a Wednesday 5th Ward meeting.

At a special City Council meeting, city officials said they expect housing insecurity to only increase as the pandemic wears on. One resident expressed concern Wednesday for a family member who lost his job last spring and has since struggled to find affordable housing options in Evanston. 

“We thought we had gotten him placed in an apartment and his case worker assured him he would get one, but then he was told it was too expensive and I thought it was really unfair,” the resident said. 

Updates were also given about a proposed skate park, which was also discussed at the Jan. 19 City Council meeting. 

Lawrence Hemingway, Evanston’s director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, presented plans for the park, which would cost anywhere from $350,000 to $750,000. However, some residents applauded Ald. Rue Simmons for voicing opposition to the plan and staying mindful of projects already underway.

“I really do appreciate you taking a stand and sticking up for the 5th Ward because Beck Park is way ahead of (the skatepark project),” former Ald. Delores Holmes (5th) said.

Ald. Rue Simmons said she chose not to move forward with the skatepark proposal during the Council meeting because, with the city’s budget already strained and other planned projects on hold, the skatepark did not make sense economically.

“I’ll say, the budget is going to be a real issue,” she said. “Beck Park (project) was taken off the list of the projects because of COVID.” 

Evanston police officer Adam Howard updated the Ward with the city’s latest crime statistics from Dec. 19, 2020 to Jan. 19, 2021. He told residents EPD had seen an increase in stolen catalytic converters, a part of a car’s exhaust system.

“It’s clear they are targeting Toyota Pruis’, so if you happen to have a Prius just be mindful that (people) are targeting those vehicles in our community,” Howard said.

Near the end of the meeting, Ald. Rue Simmons received additional crime information from Howard, and she reminded residents to be mindful of a recent, overall increase in crime across Chicago and parts of the surrounding suburbs.

“There has been an uptick in strong armed robberies and stolen autos in Chicago, Skokie, Lincolnwood and Evanston,” Rue Simmons said. “The offenders typically pull up in a vehicle and conduct strong-armed robbery, usually whipping away a female’s purse or phone.”

Rue Simmons also provided an update from Officer Howard about an Evanston resident, now identified as 34-year-old Dyrek Coleman, who was shot at a Hampton Inn & Suites in Skokie on Jan. 19. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his death a homicide.

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