Today, PADS and the City of Waukegan entered into an Agreed Order before the City’s Development Review Board. This Agreed Order outlines the parameters in which PADS operates, bringing clarity to the situation and ultimately protecting PADS and the people we serve from a future misinterpretation or misunderstanding.
We maintain the position that we were operating in full compliance with all laws, ordinances and regulations, and have always sought to work cooperatively to fix any issues raised by the community or the City of Waukegan. Proving our compliance, however, would have required lengthy and costly litigation, and PADS may have been closed while that court battle played out.
Our primary focus is and always will be the well-being of our clientele, we were not willing to allow a closure of any duration in order to prove our compliance – especially if there was an alternative solution.
After lengthy discussions with representatives from the City of Waukegan, we have come to an agreement that will allow us to continue to serve our clients in an effective and compassionate manner, and will also help the City of Waukegan address its concerns.
Again, it is important to note, this is neither an admission nor acknowledgement of wrongdoing. This agreement is simply the rational and right decision to make in order to best serve our clients.
It is crucial to correct some of the rumors and misinformation circulating about PADS. Below is the truthful information which will set the record straight. Some of the things said of PADS are so outrageous and offensive that they are not worthy of a response, but we do owe it to the people we serve to make sure the community understands who they are and what they are facing.
The most important thing to come out of this situation is the opportunity to bring homelessness to the forefront of the community conversation.
The City of Waukegan has created a task force on homelessness. PADS has accepted an invitation to join this task force. The Lake County Coalition for the Homeless, of which PADS is a member, is further energized in its Community Engagement & Advocacy efforts. Residents everywhere are talking about homelessness, where they might not have before.
Let’s keep having that conversation.
Finally, we have not expressed enough gratitude for the support that so many of you have provided. The picture is from our wall of encouragement.
We asked you to help lift the spirits of the people we serve, and your response was tremendous. Everything that so many of you did is appreciated more than you may ever know. We all – staff, board, and clients – thank you for your support.
SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
FALSE! The PADS facility at 1800 Grand Avenue is just a place for people to hang out.
THE TRUTH: The PADS office at 1800 Grand Avenue is known as the Day Resource Center. Here, clients meet with case managers, counselors, therapists, and other professionals to address their barriers to getting out of homelessness. It is not a place to hang out. If people are here, they are working on executing their individual service plan.
FALSE! People spend the night at 1800 Grand Avenue.
THE TRUTH: As we frequently reference, the PADS shelter system is run by a committed group of volunteers and houses of worship. We transport people to these shelter sites throughout Lake County each night so they can have a safe, warm place to sleep and a healthy meal. After 7:00pm, no clients are at 1800 Grand Avenue.
FALSE! PADS allows sex offenders.
THE TRUTH: PADS has an absolute prohibition on serving sex offenders. Any individual who comes to PADS for service is immediately checked against the state and national sex offender registry. As a result, we are actually stronger in our protections because PADS can guarantee that its clients are not sex offenders. Many other places cannot make such a guarantee.
FALSE! People from PADS go out during the day and panhandle.
THE TRUTH: Not everyone who panhandles is homeless. Panhandling has proven to be effective for many people in the short term. Obviously, people are giving something to panhandlers, otherwise, they wouldn’t do it. However, while someone who panhandles may get enough money to get by every now and then, it does nothing to help them get out of homelessness long term.
PADS strongly discourages panhandling among its clients, and has several rules that serve to deter such behavior.
When we receive reports of an individual panhandling, we send staff to that location to attempt to engage with that person and get them in to services. Sometimes they accept. Sometimes they do not.
FALSE! PADS dispenses drugs or medication to its clients.
THE TRUTH: PADS is not a pharmacy. We have an absolute prohibitions on dispensing any “over-the-counter”, even Tylenol or Tums. PADS does not give drugs or medication to clients.
PADS offers a prescription assistance program for its clients. If a client receives a prescription from a licensed physician, PADS can, through a grant, provide financial assistance to purchase the prescription. PADS also picks up the prescriptions at the pharmacy and then provides them to the client. The client is responsible for taking and administering any medication in consultation with their physician.
FALSE! People at PADS are from Chicago or other places, and PADS is bussing them in.
THE TRUTH: Over 99% of people utilizing emergency shelter beds over the course of a year have a history of residing in Lake County. While PADS will occasionally serve a person who recently resided elsewhere, we refer them to resources in that location.
PADS only provides busing to and from the Lake County nighttime shelters. The only people who are returned to PADS by bus were there the day before.
FALSE! The police are constantly at PADS.
THE TRUTH: PADS has a very positive relationship with the Waukegan Police Department. In fact, officers have worked with outside groups to bring care packages to our clientele. They have also regularly treated the people we serve with dignity and respect, directing new clients to PADS rather than criminalizing homelessness.
The vast majority of the time, police involvement at PADS is to help our clients as they were the victims of a crime. Stolen identities, threats, and harassment, are all common problems. The police work with our clients to serve and protect them and do a fantastic job of it.
The people we serve are not criminals. They are homeless. There is a big difference.
FALSE! There are a bunch of PADS clients causing problems in the evening and overnight at the 1800 Grand location.
THE TRUTH: All PADS clients are transported to a shelter site no later than 7:00pm. Additionally, there is a 5:00pm curfew – people must be inside the building in order to catch the bus. In any event, no PADS clients remain in the area after that time. Any problems in the evening or overnight are not caused by any of PADS clients.
FALSE! PADS is ignoring the concerns of its neighbors.
THE TRUTH: Since PADS moved to this location, we have made a great effort to be a good neighbor. We have held meetings with residents, talked one-on-one, and tried to engage people. We have tried to be as proactive as possible. We may not have gotten to everyone, but we are open to further discussion.
Many residents have direct communication with management staff to report concerns or problems. We respond to local residents immediately. We know we are not done. We hope to continue to work with anyone in the community who is willing to work with us.
FALSE! If shelter is full for the evening, clients go out into the neighborhood finding a place to sleep.
THE TRUTH: PADS has two shelter sites every day of the week, with a capacity that varies but is usually high enough to meet the demand. On the occasions that demand exceeds capacity, we have an overflow site that we provide transportation to. While people have made comments that they find people on the street who are there because “there was no shelter space,” that is incorrect. While people may be out in the street, it is not for lack of space. PADS makes every effort to ensure that people have a safe, warm place to sleep, and has the overflow site for that purpose.
FALSE! Homeless people at PADS are drug addicts…or lazy…or criminals…or any other negative stereotype you can think of.
THE TRUTH: It is tough to dignify this with a response, but it is important nonetheless. The people we serve are here for a variety of reasons. They never expected to be homeless, but it happened.
Some are here because they lost a job. Some are here because of a disability. Some are here because of family issues. Some are here because of a natural disaster.
Often these stereotypes come from people who have never tried to talk to someone experiencing homelessness. Or their only exposure is with a criminal who happens to be homeless. It is unfair and inappropriate to lump everyone together in that manner.
What is often said is that homelessness could happen to you. Perhaps it has. For those that have lived it, they don’t often introduce themselves as “Hi, I’m John Doe, and I was homeless once.” But chances are, you know someone who was homeless. You just don’t necessarily know that they were.