We at the Oak Park Homelessness Coalition read the article “Arrested in the roadway” [WJ News, Sept. 29], detailing how Oak Park police are stepping up enforcement of roadway panhandling. Our community has a response system in place to help connect people to appropriate services, and the Oak Park Homelessness Coalition is working to develop community-wide efforts to end homelessness in Oak Park.
With more than 30 organizations involved, the coalition is made up of social service agencies, government, non-profits, businesses and faith-based communities. The coalition recognizes that panhandling and homelessness are serious issues, with hundreds of local residents falling into homelessness each year.
We are a compassionate community. If you encounter someone who is panhandling, homeless — or in danger of becoming homeless — you can help.
Ask the person their situation, listen with compassion and provide resources. Housing Forward (formerly West Suburban PADS) and Prevail (formerly Walk-in Ministries) offer services that can help for the short and long term. Housing Forward transitions people from housing crisis to housing stability. Prevail, which has its office in Oak Park and is now part of Housing Forward, can help those facing a financial crisis through emergency assistance and referrals, job readiness and financial literacy.
To learn more about the resources available and the work of the Oak Park Homelessness Coalition, visit www.housingforward.org and www.endhomelessnessoakpark.com.
Oak Park Homelessness Coalition