CRIB NOTES: Cops Want Youth Shelter To Make Changes

19th District Police Commander Elias Voulgaris has taken a stand on an issue that has caused problems for some of our neighbors.

We are pleased to support the commander’s efforts. Thank you for stepping up, sir.

According to this morning, the commander wants the Night Ministry youth shelter, called “The Crib,” to change the way it selects whom it will accommodate.

Currently, the shelter uses a lottery system to select which of the 25-30 people who show up nightly will be taken in. Anyone who is left over after the beds are filled are on their own.

“Frankly, it’s not working,” the commander said […] Voulgaris said he’s stopped people on the street at night and learned that they were in the neighborhood for The Crib. 

The commander and 19th District CAPS Sergeant Jason Clark suggest that The Crib should only accept individuals who are taking steps to better their situation by going to school.

And that’s where The Crib’s rep, Barbara Bolsen turns on the flow of excuses.

It’s hard to predict which person will make the right steps, she said.

Even someone who might look like she will “crash and burn — like they’re not going to make it — they can really surprise you,” Bolsen said. 

No one is saying only pick the people you think will succeed. What’s being said is that the people you do select should be held responsible for improving themselves, with help and support, of course.

The gem is this enormous, cartoonish, brush stroke:

It’s “a huge assumption” to think all young people on the street in Lakeview are there because they’ve been rejected from The Crib, [Bolsen] said. 

Image: DNAinfo

 This statement was apparently in response to the commander’s experiences of encountering people on the street who came here for The Crib. Again, nobody said all of the problems are coming from The Crib. There are a whole bunch of contributing factors at play in our neighborhood and the years-old practice of deflection needs to end. Everyone needs to step up and get their ducks in a row. To that end, The Crib needs to take responsibility for its residents and the “five or ten” people that it tosses back on the streets every night.

The Crib no longer allows smoke breaks, meaning people stay inside once they get to the church at 9 p.m. If there are still empty beds after then, people must call 311 to check if one is open — not knock on the church’s door. 

And the church is recruiting more volunteers to be around between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m., an addition to the church’s site manager. It’s not quite the hired security that neighbors asked for, but Bolsen said it would add “adult presence” when the young people come in.

“This has really evolved in response to a dialog with our immediate neighbors, with the alderman’s staff and folks at the police station,” Bolsen said.

Keep evolving.

As a contrasting example, consider another 19th District shelter operation where one CWBer has volunteered over the past year to 18 months.

Yes, their residents are adults. But their residents, or “guests,” as the shelter refers to them, are required to take definitive action toward improvement and independence. What that action looks like varies by the guests’ individual circumstances.  Their progress is reviewed regularly and those who don’t step up are told to leave so the shelter can serve someone who wants to get to a better place. Many guests work their way to stability and are then assisted on the road to and through independence. It’s pretty incredible.

We think youths should be held responsible for improving themselves, too. Whether that means finishing school, securing employment, or learning and adopting skills that will help them to land in a better place.

When the CWB volunteer knocked on his shelter’s door at 5:30 a.m. to cook breakfast for the residents one day, a shelter worker opened the door and blasted him with finger wagging: never go outside after hours again, the rules say this, next time such and such is going to happen, “what’s your name?” and all sorts of stuff. She thought our volunteer was a “guest.”

That’s the way to run things.

EDITORS’ NOTE: DNAinfo updated and clarified some portions of its story, including quotations, after CWB’s original posting. CWB has revised portions of this entry accordingly.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is