City workers accused of tossing out homeless people’s belongings

CHICAGO -- The City of Chicago is being accused of making a heartless attack on the homeless after a video showed crews clearing out a homeless camp along the Kennedy Expressway in the Avondale neighborhood.

Jeffrey, a homeless Chicagoan, doesn’t have much, but the little that he and several other homeless men did have in the Belmont and Kedzie underpass was hauled off as trash by city cleanup crews Wednesday afternoon.

A passersby saw what was happening and shot video.

“And so I parked my car and I went running over and I said, ‘Who are you and why are you doing this? I can’t believe any of the aldermen would do this,’” Gretchen Moore said.

The area’s alderman, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th Ward, said he had no idea about what was happening.

“Ultimately, this shows that we as a city need to come together to provide housing, to make sure we’re taking care of all Chicagoans, particularly the most vulnerable during the winter,” he said.

A nearby parish priest, who regularly helps the homeless, said in these icy conditions, he can’t believe the cruelty.

“This is evil. It would be more humane to just line them up against the building and shoot ‘em as compared to taking away what little they had and then expecting them to fend in this cold for themselves with nothing,” Father Paul Kalchik, priest at Resurrection Catholic Church, said.

Ryan Gustis, 11, ended up in the middle of the situation while he was handing out backpacks full of blankets and snacks to the homeless.

“They kicked all the homeless people out of their area, like under the bridge and they took pretty much everything they had and just dumped it into a garbage truck," he said.

They didn’t throw out any of Ryan’s donations but they got pretty much everything else.

“It was really bad. I mean, that’s kinda like someone taking a wrecking ball to your house if you’re not there," Ryan said.

The alderman said since he’s been made aware of the situation, he has reached out to Streets and Sanitation and the Department of Family and Support Services for some answers.

In a statement, the city said it gave notice of the cleanup a week ago and said they will have workers providing outreach in the area Wednesday evening.