On Tuesday, May 22, we will be at the Evanston City Council meeting “All Inn” in support of the work Connections for the Homeless is doing at the Margarita Inn.
The fight for fair housing is intrinsically linked to the fight for housing solutions for all. We are proud of the work that our partner, Connections for the Homeless, is doing through their Housing First shelter program at the Margarita Inn.
Housing first models like the Margarita Inn are proven best practices.
Low barrier service models, such as the Housing First model, affirm that we are all worthy of care and support. However, for most people, without housing stability, accessing and engaging meaningfully in support services can be difficult. Housing First models acknowledge that housing is critical to a sense of safety and stability in one’s community.
Before coming to Open Communities, I worked for Connections for the Homeless. I know first-hand the support and care provided at the Margarita. The staff includes case managers, licensed behavioral health practitioners, licensed physical healthcare providers, and frontline staff trained in de-escalation. Not only are staff experienced in providing trauma-informed care services, but they also do their work with a kindness that should not go unnoticed. There is a reason why the Margarita Inn has had 70% of residents exit into housing solutions (almost twice the national average). Housing First models work, and Connections has decades of experience in this area.
While working at the Margarita, I worked with some of the kindest (and funniest) human beings. Residents built a community for themselves --- showing up for each other and often checking on staff to see how our days were going, too. I say this to push back against the notions of a single story told about residents. People experiencing homelessness are not a monolith. Residents coming to the Margarita each have their own unique stories and experiences. The one uniting factor across the board is that they are all inherently worthy of housing, regardless of their specific situation.
Many people opposed to the Margarita Inn are concerned about safety. They speak of Margarita Inn residents as if they are a problem to be rid of. This argument ignores the fact that many of us are one emergency away from being in an unstable housing situation ourselves.
People experiencing homelessness are not the problem.
The systems and policies that create homelessness and housing insecurity are the problem.
People experiencing street-based homelessness are more often victims of crime than housed people. Providing shelter through the Margarita is one way to combat this. All of us are safer when everyone in our community has a place to stay at night.
Open Communities is proud to be “All Inn”, and we hope you will be too. The final city council vote for the Margarita Inn will take place May 22nd at 7PM at the Lorraine Morton Civic Center in Evanston. We encourage you to come out and support our partners doing this critical work.
We have a collective responsibility to care for one another – we hope you'll join this fight (and future fights) to ensure that housing is fair, affordable, and accessible to all.