Dear Metra Board:
Obviously, no one wants responsibility for the conditions at the Oak Park Metra/CTA stop. The denial seems quite typical. As I mentioned previously, I have witnessed the mentally ill menace Metra riders at the entrances to this public area.
I received a note from the village, as follows: “We continue to be aware of the influx of unhoused individuals within the community and that they congregate near an encampment at or around Oak Park public transportation stations. As winter weather rapidly approaches, Oak Park continues to work diligently with Chicago and other jurisdictions to mitigate the situation and ultimately assist individuals to find permanent housing. This week there have been productive conversations with partners from Housing Forward and the CTA on addressing these concerns.”
But if you look at Housing Forward’s literature, they admit they are not relocating these and other similar individuals. Rather, they are resupplying and providing services to the unhoused. So no one has taken responsibility for relocating individuals these, despite the upcoming Chicago winter.
I feel strongly that this speaks poorly of the values of Oak Park and local government and other service providers in this region. Chicago’s solution for the situation is placing families in tents in the wintertime.
The idea that Illinois, Chicago and Oak Park are sanctuary entities has become a joke, a burned-out political slogan, now that the reality of what that entails really sets in. And no one really believes the Trump-era resistance slogan is worth the breath uttering it.
That Oak Park, the CTA and Metra would allow this situation to grow and become an ever greater problem, is frankly, embarrassing. It does nothing to create the type of atmosphere conducive to drawing back ridership. As Chicago Forward notes, 18% of the unhoused have severe mental illness issues and are unstable. That is a public-safety issue waiting to happen.
The two largest transportation agencies and the village of Oak Park need to take back control of the situation before an incident takes a dark turn.