Addressing Vacant Property Issues 

By Gary Jenkins 
BAPA Safety Liaison 

Aoften overlooked aspect of potential neighborhood safety concerns is abandoned and vacant propertiesAlthough Beverly/Morgan Park is fortunate not to have an abundance of vacant properties, it is crucial that the community recognizes and responds appropriately to these issues as they arise 

The City of Chicago of Department of Buildings (DOB) accepts vacant property reports throug3-1-1, and is responsible for fielding all complaints regarding vacant and abandoned buildings.  According to the City of Chicago’s website, The City of Chicago requires that an owner of a vacant building register the building with the City once it is vacant for more than 30 days. Each owner of a vacant building is also required to secure, insure, and maintain that building as required by ordinance. Registration must be renewed every six months. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in significant penalties. The registered owner of a vacant building will receive a daily e-mail report of public service requests (3-1-1 calls) and police activity at the property, including 9-1-1 calls. If you register a property, you must deregister the property if it is reoccupied, sold, or demolished. 

Additionally, If residents have safety concerns about remodeling or rehabbing work being done on vacant or abandoned propertythe DOB can investigate to determine whether proper permits were obtained. If the proper permits were not obtained, DOB inspectors will come out to the site to halt all work and attempt to contact the property owners. The work will not continue until all safety concerns have been addressed and all proper permits have been issued. 

If any type of criminal activity is suspected in a vacant building, people should call 9-1-1.  Once a service call is generated, the DOB works with the Chicago Police Department to investigate the complaint.  

In the 22nd District, Officer James Connell is specifically assigned to address abandoned and vacant properties.  If a property is abandoned or vacant and unsecured, Officer Connell will initiate an investigation to determine the property’s ownership status. If a property owner can be identified, efforts will be made to have the owner address any problems. If the owner does not address the situation or the owner cannot be located, Officer Connell will refer the property to the City of Chicago’s Law Department for legal action. 

 If residents have tangible information regarding illegal activity in a vacant or abandoned building, or if they have questions or concerns regarding potential troubled buildings, they should contact Officer Connell at 312-745-0620 or james.connell@chicagopolice.org. Additional information can be found online at 311.chicago.gov. 

 

Safety Update 

Police districts across the city of Chicago are hosting District Strategic Plan Community Conversations 1 and 2 in October and November to get input on quality of life issues, law enforcement and community engagement. The first meeting for the 22nd District is Tues., Oct. 13, 6 to 9 p.m. via Zoom. District personnel will gather all of the information from that conversation to determine the top three crime reduction priorities and community engagement goals for the district. At the second Community Conversation residents will have the opportunity to comment and make suggestions on the district’s priorities and goals. Sign up for the first conversation at evenbrite.com/e/022nd-district-community-conversation-1-tickets-120580989987. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AND Provides Critical Support to Domestic Violence Clients 

By Kristin Boza 

A New Direction (AND) is the only domestic violence organization in Beverly/Morgan Park. Their mission is to provide counseling, education, support, and advocacy to those affected by domestic violence and to provide confidential counseling and advocacy services at no charge 

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, AND staff has seen nearly double the number of clients compared to the same period last year, according to Jessica McCarihan, AND Executive Director. 

“We’ve moved our services to serve our clients virtually and we’ve had to adapt to what that means for our clients,” McCarihan said. “There’s some loss of intimacy by not being able to be in the same room as them; however, our clients are still receiving a great level of service and many find it easier to ask for help when they can do so over the phone versus inperson meetings.” 

While AND does not have a crisis line, McCarihan noted that the organization has had to move to more of a 24/7 model in order to accommodate clients who may have difficulty in getting away from their abuser to make a call. With more people staying at home, both during and after shelter-in-place orders, many more people are spending more time than usual with their abusers.  

Since services are available free-of-charge to those in need, AND relies heavily on fundraising support to fulfill its mission and keep people within the Beverly/Morgan Park communities safe. Like all other big events, AND’s annual October gala will be cancelled this year; this event provided a large portion of AND’s operating budget.  

“We are looking for ways to make up the loss of our annual event, and we really need the support from the community to help us continue to fulfill our essential mission as we enter into our tenth year of supporting this community,” McCarihan said.  

People are encouraged to stay tuned to AND’s Facebook and Instagram @ANDBMP to learn how to support the organization. 

“Domestic violence during lockdown was very hard and we’re helping more people than ever. We need the community’s support, and we are extremely grateful for it,” McCarihan said. 

If you need help, reach out to AND by calling 773-253-7226 to speak to an advocate. 

To make a donation to AND’s essential services, visit ANewDirectionBMP.org. 

 

 

Village Viewpoint – September 2020

By Gary Jenkins, BAPA Safety Liaison

I have lived in the Beverly/Morgan Park community for the past sixteen plus years. My wife Sharon and I moved here from the 6500 block of Sangamon Street.  I am originally from New York City, so Englewood was my first taste of Chicago.

Most of Englewood then, as it is now, was considered a very tough neighborhood. I wasn’t intimidated by Englewood — I’m from the southeast Bronx, and people from the Bronx aren’t intimidated easily.  So, I just did what I had done most of my life: I got involved.  I attended community revitalization meetings; I talked to neighbors and seniors about how we can make our block and neighborhood better; I swept my and other neighbors’ trash from in front of homes; and spoke to the kids on the block about things they could do to improve their chances in life.

Since I was new to Chicago back then, CAPS was a new concept to me.  I was somewhat familiar with NYC community policing efforts, but I had not participated in them in any significant way. Since I was very concerned with being safe and comfortable where I was living, I began attending CAPS meetings where I listened as neighbors shared their concerns over crime and violence on their streets.

One of the things that struck me about those meetings is that there didn’t seem to be a real connection between the residents who attended and the 7th District CAPS officers who conducted the meetings.  Residents also seemed to be reluctant about being forthcoming. I believe there was a sense of hopelessness, fear, and distrust among the residents.

When we moved to Beverly/Morgan Park, Sharon and I began attending 22nd District CAPS meetings. I was struck by how the level of issues were on two different ends of the spectrum for Englewood and Beverly/Morgan Park.  I had come from a district where murder, rape, assault and robbery were the topics of CAPS meetings to a district where kids hanging out in the park after dusk and loud music complaints topped the CAPS agenda.

There were other differences, too.

I noticed there seemed to be a closer connection between the residents and the officers, and that the meetings were attended by other community stake holders like 19th Ward and BAPA representatives. I attended many meetings over the next couple of years, then I made my voice and concerns known.

More than ten years ago I was recruited to serve in a two year term as beat facilitator for Beat 2213. As beat facilitator, I got to know and work with more of the officers of the 22nd District.

Although I have no proof, I believe that one thing that makes the relationship between the residents and officers in the 22nd District different from the 7th District is that more of our officers live in the community.

As I stated earlier, I am from the Bronx, and growing up an African American male in the Bronx, I did not have a great relationship with police officers.   I rarely saw police officers who looked like me.  On more than one occasion, I have been stopped by police because of the color of my skin.

For six years before coming to Chicago, I worked as a peace officer along with and close to law enforcement individuals of all stripes, from federal, state, and local agencies. I began to appreciate and respect the individuals behind the badges who where doing the right thing, the right way.

That is what I have come to know about the personnel at the 22nd District who I have worked with over the years: they do the right thing, the right way.

As BAPA’s Safety Liaison, I view my role with the folks at the 22nd District as merely an extension of my role as an active, concerned, member of this community.

I want to recognize how hard the officers at the 22nd District have been working and the sacrifices they make by working 12 hour shifts with no days off. Special thanks go to the 22nd District police for keeping our community safe during these turbulent times.

Student Featured in Documentary About Civil Rights Tour 

Five months after they visited the American South on a life-changing tour through civil rights history, Morgan Park Academy students are set to be featured in a documentary filmConfronting the Living History of the Civil Rights Struggle,  produced about the experience by The Nation magazine. 

Beverly/Morgan Park neighbor Caitlin Robinson, an 8th grader, was among the group of MPA 7th and 8th grade students and teachers who toured from Jackson, Mississippi, to Atlanta, Georgia in February. The group traveled under the guidance of André Robert Lee, a teacher, producer and acclaimed documentary filmmaker with years of experience leading civil rights tours in the South. 

With global studies at the core of its curriculum, MPA partnered with The Nation because of their expertise in presenting this emotionally complex material to middle school students in a way that teaches the history of the Civil Rights Movement thoughtfully, honestly, and delicately, while also teaching students the significance of the role the individual plays in determining the direction a society moves towards or away from justice. 

Traveling from Jackson, Mississippi, through the Mississippi Delta to Little Rock, Arkansas, and on to Memphis, Tennessee, students visited the sites and talked with some of the leaders of this important era of U.S. history. From there the group went to Birmingham and Selma, Alabama, finally ending the journey in Montgomery at the Lynching Museum and the Equal Justice Initiative. 

Robinson is among the students who were interviewed for the documentary, which has been released as a five minute short and will be released soon as a full-length piece. 

“My generation’s role is to continue on the fight that their ancestors started,” Robinson said“Because it’s not over, and I want to make sure people remember that.” 

“This isn’t just Black history. It’s American history,” said Josiah Fields, another MPA student.   

The experience was coordinated by Colleen Amberg, who leads development of MPA’s social studies curriculum and directs the middle school global studies program. 

“This trip changed my life,” Amberg said. “Since we got back, not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about it. It was even more meaningful and historic than we anticipated, and drove home how fortunate I feel to work in a school that is so supportive of and committed to developing globally minded citizens.” 

The documentary short can be viewed on YouTube 

Celebrating nearly 150 years of educational excellence, Morgan Park Academy (MPA) is an independent college preparatory school ranked annually among the top private schools in the state and first among all schools in Chicago’s Southland area. Plans call for the school to reopen 

in August for in-person learning on the 20-acre campus at 2153 W. 111th St. Learn more at morganparkacademy.org or call 773-881-6700. 

Coronavirus: Don’t Let Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home Harm You 

 

By Kevin Scanlan 
Certified Poison Information Educator 
Illinois Poison Center 

The Illinois Poison Center (IPC) is a not-for-profit public/private partnership that provides free poison information and education to all the residents of Illinois via a 24/7/365 hotline (1-800-222-1222staffed by physicians, pharmacists and other specially trained healthcare professionals. The IPC is the oldest Poison Center in the United States.  

During 2019, the IPC responded to almost 80,000 calls from the general public as well as healthcare professionals.  90% of the calls are handled without a further referral to a healthcare facility. 40% of the calls involve a child under the age of 5. 

Because of the Coronavirus outbreak, over the past several weeks, the IPC has seen a 49% increase in potentially harmful exposures to cleaning products calls as compared to last year.  The IPC estimates that they will handle close to 8,000 calls related to cleaning products over the next 12 months. 

Types of cases already handled by the IPC: 

People using non-traditional chemicals to wash their hands (bleach, hydrogen peroxide, wipes, etc.) resulting in rashesirritation and cracked skin. 

People using chemicals (bleach, wipes, cleaning powders, etc.) to wash their groceries, including produce, and exhibiting toxicity upon ingestion. 

People mixing cleaning chemicals together and inadvertently producing toxic gas. 

Children being exposed to cleaning products and/or chemicals that are  left open and/or unattended. 

Here are some tips: 

Always read the product label first and use the product according to label instructions. 

Keep all cleaning products in their original containers with original labels. 

Store cleaning products out of sight, in locked cabinets. 

Keep all household cleaning products and other potentially harmful products separated from food products. 

Never leave a cleaning product open and unattended. 

When using cleaning products, work in a well-ventilated area. 

Dispose of cleaning products according to the instructions on the label or at a chemical waste drop-off site. 

In case of a poisoning exposure, follow the first-aid steps below, then call the IPC hotline, 1-800-222-1222: 

Swallowed: Give a few sips of water to drink.  If the person is unconscious, call 911 or take them to the nearest hospital. 

Skin: Remove contaminated clothing and wash skin gently with soap and cool water. 

Eyes: Rinse eyes with lukewarm water for 15 minutes 

Fumes: Remove person to fresh air, taking care not to become exposed yourself.  If the person is not breathing, call 911 and start, if comfortable doing so, artificial respiration and continue until medical help arrives. 

 

Safety Tips as Stay-At-Home Order Continues   

By Gary Jenkins 
BAPA Community Safety Liaison 

As we begin another month of the City of Chicago’s stay at home order it’s good to review some important safety guidelines. Following common sense health and safety precautions is paramount to each of us for coming out on the other side of this pandemic in a better place.  Stay home, save lives. If you must go out, wear a mask, exercise social distancing (at least six feet apart where possible), if you need to come together with others do not congregate in a groups of more than ten and maintain social distancing at all times, and, most importantly, wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. 

We must also be wary of the potential fraud and scams related to COVID19 government payments to both individuals and businesses.  Officials at both the FBI and IRS warn that scam artists are seeking to take advantage of unsuspecting citizens. BAPA’s COVID19 information page at BAPA.org has links to access to the websites you need to get current information from local and federal authorities. Always remember to know with whom you are sharing your information, and if the deal sounds too good and too easy to be true, it usually is. 

 As the weather begins to feel much more like spring, an understandable urge to break from your COVID confinement will come over you; I get it!  The streets are not as busy as usual, so please remember to remain aware of your surroundings and call 911 if you see anyone or anything that might not seem just right. 

Finally, with the increase in purchasing household cleaning solutions to prevent spreading the coronavirus the CDC has issued a notice that the calls to the poison control hotline have increased.  The CDC warns consumers to read the labels carefully of all cleaning solutions that you might use around the house. In case you have questions, the poison control hotline is 1-800-222-1222 and general information is available at poison.org.  

 

 

 

Scam Alert: Helpful tips to avoid becoming a victim 

By Gary Jenkins 
BAPA Safety Program Coordinator  

Telephone, email, and text message scams are a very present danger in the high-tech world in which live. Scammers and thieves are utilizing both sophisticated and not so sophisticated methods to defraud and steal from unsuspecting people.   

Currently, scammers are taking advantage of these times of anxiety and uncertainty of COVID-19 to create scams coming in the form of telephone calls, direct mail, emails and text messages. Do not click on any links, answer any questions, or provide any personal information regarding COVID-19 if you did not initiate the communication. Scams offer false information such as cures for the virus, reports that someone in your family owes for doctor’s care, offers to clean air ducts to prevent the spread of the virus, etc.  

I recently received a text message on my phone that looked like it was from Chase Bank. The message alerted me that my account was locked and said I needed to click on a link for further details.  

I was a fraud investigator for over 25 years, and I grew up in the Bronx, NY, so I smelled a scam. 

I did not click on the link. Instead, I got my i-Pad, looked up the fraud number on the Chase website, and called. The Chase representative checked my accounts to determine that everything was in order and concurred with my suspicion that the text was scam.  I was instructed to forward the text message to the Chase fraud department.  I received a response from the fraud department with helpful information on what to look for regarding potential scam communications.   

Based on my experience, here are some tips for avoiding becoming a victim of a scam: 

  • Never click on a link in a text or email if you are not certain of the sender. 
  • Obtain contact information for the fraud department of your financial institution or merchant if you suspect an email or text is fraudulent. Go to the website of the financial institution or merchant to obtain the fraud hotline number.  DO NOT USE THE LINK PROVIDED IN THE TEXT OR EMAIL. 
  • Never give sensitive information via a text or email if you receive a request to do so via an email or text. 
  • Delete suspected text or email.  

EVERYONE COUNTS! 

By Kevin Scanlan 

Certified SCORE Mentor 

2020 is a census year. Every 10 years, the federal government is required to conduct a census to determine the number of people who live in each state/community. 

The results of the census have two impacts on us.  First, based on the recorded population of Illinois, a determination will be made as to how many representatives we have in Congress. Based on the recent reports on how many people are leaving Illinois for other locations, Illinois will likely lose a least one Congressional seat. Depending on how accurate the census is, we could possibly lose up to two seats. 

The other impact of the census is on funding of certain federal programs. Currently, 55 federally funded programs in Illinois are impacted by the number of residents in of the State of Illinois, as confirmed by the census. Based on a study by George Washington University, in 2016, these 55 programs provided $34.3 billion in funding in Illinois. Some of those programs include funding of government sponsored health programs (Medicare, Medicaid, All Kids, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); the National School Lunch Program (NSLP); Head Start educational programs; Pell Grants for Higher Educationspecial education funding and highway repair funding. 

The State of Illinois has committed $30 million for the census count.  

The Chicago Urban League estimates that for every uncounted resident, $1535 in federal funding is lost annually. The next census will be in 2030 so the total impact of every uncounted resident for the 10 year period will be approximately $15,350. 

Looking at the impact closer to home, if we use the 2010 reported census population of the 19th. Ward — 51,525  and 1% of the residents go uncounted (515), the loss of federal funding over the next 10 years will be $790,525. 

As you can see, EVERYONE COUNTS! Hopefully you have received your census form in the mail by now.  Please fill it out. There are several options available to you: online, by mail or by phoneThere are no citizenship questions on the census form and the information will not be shared with other governmental agencies except those who use the aggregate data for program funding purposes.  

If you don’t fill it out the census form, you will likely be contacted, in person by a census employeePlease be sure to confirm the credentials of the person who calls on you. 

(Kevin Scanlan is a Certified SCORE Mentor working as part of the BAPA Team. Contact him via e-mailkevin.scanlan@scorevolunteer.org.) 

 

Summer Pet Care Tips 

Summer Pet Care Tips 

Cook County Animal and Rabies Control urges pet owners to take special precautions to protect the health and welfare of their pets in the summer. 

The department offers tips for pet owners: 

Keep pets on leash: Only let your dog off-lead in designated dog-friendly areas. This protects your dog and people or other dogs or animals that are nearby. In Cook County, 80 percent of dog bites occur in the summer.  Children running, cycling or skateboarding can tempt an off-lead dog to chase them, and this can result in bite incidents. In addition, dogs may be tempted to chase squirrels and break free from their leads. 

Do not leave your pet in a hot car:  Studies have shown that even with the windows rolled down,  the temperature inside the car can increase by 15 degrees above the outside temperature. The law requires that any time the ambient temperature is above 78 degrees, you cannot leave your dog in a car. 

Keep your pets cool when outside: All dogs should be provided with cool water and shade and monitored when outside. Short-coated animals and animals with white or tan fur are susceptible to sunburn, especially on their noses. 

Consider a haircut: If your dog has a thick coat, consider a haircut for summer. One inch is a good length to keep you dog more comfortable in the heat while avoiding sunburn. 

Vaccinate your pets: Make sure that your pets ae up-to-date on all shots, including canine influenza virus, feline distemper and rabies. Cook County Animal and Rabies Control offers low-cost rabies vaccine clinics in June, July and Aug. Find locations, dates and times at www.cookcountyil.gov/service/low-cost-rabies-clinic 

Take care of your pet’s paws: Asphalt and sidewalks are hotter than grass, and paw pads are highly sensitive to heat. Whenever possible, walk your dog on grass, dirt or gravel, and avoid asphalt and concrete during a heat wave. 

Keep inside temperatures cool: Make sure your indoor pets have water and are comfortable when in the home. And don’t be alarmed if you see your cat sleeping somewhere odd, like the bathtub or the closet. Cats look for the coolest spot in the home. 

Police Presence, Nosey Neighbors and Being Informed Impact Safety

According to BAPA’s safety survey, a strong and consistent police presence, a commitment to being nosey neighbors and having access to community alerts and crime information are the top three tools needed for a safer community. (See survey results.)

“I think these results show how much confidence our community has in our police force, so much so that we hope Chicago Police Department leadership will dedicate more police manpower to protecting our commercial and residential areas,” BAPA’s Margot Holland.

“The survey provides valuable information for our law enforcement partners,” said 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea. ” I look forward to ongoing collaboration with BAPA and the 22nd District.”

The survey was distributed in early December through email blasts and social media, and was completed by nearly 2,000 area residents.

“It was a great response, and respondents overwhelmingly agreed that frequent police patrols throughout the community is the most effective crime-fighting tool,” Holland said.

Being a nosey neighbor and calling 9-1-1 to report suspicious activity was cited as the second most important aspect of crime prevention, and quick access to crime alerts came in third. CAPS meetings received the lowest confidence as a crime prevention tool.

Nearly 80% of the people who completed the survey have lived in the community for more than 10 years, and they provided good perspective on changes in community safety. “Many people noted that neighborhood receives a lot of attention from police when there is an uptick in crime, and that strong police presence is an effective crime deterrent,” Holland said. “People also commented that the neighborhood needs continuous police presence, not just added presence when something happens.”

While the vast number of survey respondents perceive the neighborhood as somewhat safe or very safe, a concerning number of people also indicated that they limit certain activities due to safety concerns.

“We received a lot of comments about where and why people curtail activities, and many people said that concern about their safety increased with the recent spate of crimes and there is more opportunity for crime because there are not enough police on the streets,” Holland said.

Even before the recent armed robberies, BAPA was developing the safety survey. “Those crimes made the survey more timely and the input we received more critical,” Holland said.

Survey respondents selected increased crime prevention tips in BAPA communications, volunteer-driven neighborhood watch, and neighborhood watch Facebook groups.

People interested in seeing the survey results can find it at www.bapa.org. The survey was developed by BAPA staff and board members with the help of 22nd District CAPS leaders, 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea, and community members.