Better Than PADS And Affordable, Too


Over the past several months we, like many other Park Ridge residents, have tried to get a handle on whether Park Ridge really has a “homelessness problem” and, if so, whether a PADS shelter is the best way to deal with it.  At this point, we still aren’t sure about the first question, but we are leaning toward “No” on the second.

The way the Park Ridge Ministerial Association (“PRMA”) has gone about trying to bring a PADS homeless shelter to Park Ridge, however, has been disappointing – starting with its failure to get community support in advance, followed by its trying to jam the shelter down the throats of the St. Mary’s Episcopal neighbors, and continuing with its insistence that it is above the City’s zoning laws because its proposed branch of the secular, government-subsidized PADS to Hope, Inc.’s franchise is a “religious ministry.” 

That has proved to be a recipe for divisiveness, with citizens split not only over the issue of whether Park Ridge should get into the homeless business by accepting a PADS flophouse du jour and inviting in PADS “clients” from outside Park Ridge, but also on the issue of whether PADS shelters might be more effective in promoting homelessness than in reducing it.  Some citizens, including members of the City Council, are even divided on whether religious organizations can tell the city to pound sand with its zoning laws.

But despite the wrongheadedness of the PRMA and the divisiveness this issue already has caused, we believe there has to be a better way, if not several better ways, to address whatever homelessness problem there might be, preferably ones on which the community as a whole can be consulted in advance and around which a consensus can be built. 

Perhaps the simplest and most common sense alternative to setting up a PADS shelter in a local church is to get the homeless cheap rooms in a local motel. 

For example, the standard rate at the Days Inn Niles (6450 West Touhy) for a room with 2 double beds and a complimentary continental breakfast is currently around $80/night, tax included.  Each such room can house at least 2 “guests,” or $40/night per person, although the PRMA should be able to get a better rate if it guarantied 8 rooms every Sunday for the maximum 15 “guests” we’ve been told the Park Ridge shelter should expect.  Some non-chain motels in the area might be cheaper still. 

But even at that standard rate, 8 rooms @ $80 is $640 per week, or $17,920 over the roughly 28-week (October through April) PADS season.  That’s just $1,500 for each of the 12 PRMA member churches if they split the cost equally.  And this plan comes with some additional benefits, including providing extra revenue for a private, taxpaying business on what might otherwise be a slow night (Sunday), and generating sales/occupancy taxes for Niles or whatever other community in which the motel is situated.

Of course, under this plan the PRMA would still need volunteers to provide logistical support, such as some transportation, monitoring, and whatever food might be needed to supplement the continental breakfast that comes with the rooms.  But the homeless get sheltered, PRMA members can claim credit for it, and both a private business owner and a local government reap some unexpected economic benefits. 

That sure sounds like a win-win-win situation to us, and one that should satisfy the PRMA – assuming that it truly is more concerned with getting homeless people out of the elements for a night than it is with helping PADS to HOPE, Inc. build its brand, expand its franchise network to Park Ridge, and leverage even more money out of the government and private contributors. 

But that’s just one idea.  We welcome others.

25 comments so far

Very creative thinking W.D. however you seem to have forgotten somthing…. the PRMA doesn’t want to spend their own money to help this cause, for that matter neither does Pads, however they have NO problem tossing this out to the community and will take great pleasure in spending our money! And one should keep in mind the idea that once it’s our (the tax payers) money being utilized in the aid of the homeless is becomes less and less “A MINISTRY” and more and more a social service.

With that in mind, I believe that there are certainly enough intellegent people in town who see the difference, even if that doen’t include some of our elected officials and city staff.
Which is really disturbing because they are the ones who will be determining the outcome of this whole thing. An outcome that will be determined by a 20 minute Q&A session with Pads. Who by the way NEVER really answered any of the tough questions but instead anwered with a pat. sales pitch. And uh…….where has Pads been lately?

What a wonderful idea. The PRMA and the volunteers could still accomplish all they have said they want to do.

I’m not sure I understand though why the guests would have to be monitored. As so many of the PADS supporters have said, their guests are no different from anyone else.

Here’s another idea, but it lacks the hands-on experience the PRMA volunteers seem to crave. Phone 311 anywhere in Chicago and 24-hour operators will dispatch an outreach team who will pick-up and transport individuals in need of a place to stay to an appropriate shelter. This program operates as a joint effort between the city & Catholic Charities. Funding comes primarily from $49 million in federal funding & Trust Fund revenues of over $5 million from the Skyway lease. Park Ridge is part of an urban dynamic, because we border Chicago on 2 sides.

I would think there are members of each of the PRMA churches who could, and would, write that check just to stop the bickering and get the homeless out of Park Ridge.

I wouldn’t bet on that. The PRMA and the churches have an agenda that reaches way past helping the homeless.

Give me a break! The suggestions given are already options for this population. Many who are considered working poor (those with local jobs and kids in local schools but unable to pay for local rents/mortgages) currently live in the crap motels that are scattered throughout the suburban area such as the Rand Motel, Bel Aire, etc. The ones who would be staying in the shelters are those with no other option. The criticism of the PADS program is simply lacking information. PADS doesn’t claim to be a program that serves the working poor. It does not claim to serve the population that have options. It claims to serve the street homeless. Those who are not eligible for programs that can easily get funding because they serve a more fundable population (i.e. women and children, developmentally disabled, the under educated, english as a second languge, and yes, the working poor). The PADS program simply serves those who have pervasive issues and need shelter on an emergency basis until more suitable housing, programs and interventions can occur. Sometimes it is the HOPE Center that assists them to stabilize out of the PADS program. Sometimes it is other social service agencies linked to the one in need through the HOPE Center. It is funny how this thing has grown so out of proportion. It is as if we _itch simply to _itch.

If productive and appropriate alternative plans to serve the street homeless were available, I’d like to hear them. Otherwise…lets move on…please!

Sell Out – is that a code for Todd S_ull?

Sell Out:

You sound like a paid shill for PADS/HOPE. 

The reason we’re b*tching is that a bunch of holier-than-thou clergy who have never paid a dime of property tax decided to sell out our community and conspire with PADS Corporate to stick a flophouse in Park Ridge for non-Park Ridge homeless that most Park Ridge residents never asked for and were never asked about. 

The next time I want a community decision made by the clergy and the people running PADS Corporate who make their livings off the PADS business, I’ll ask for it.

Sell Out, You aren’t still trying to sell PADS and a last resort oportunity are you? We here are soooooo over that idea. What was that you said about using the shelter system on an emergancy basis? Want to try again?! What is your explanation for those MANY MANY MANY who have utilized to shelter year after year after year?
Sounds more like playing the system than simply using it til something better comes along. That is until someone provides it for them.

The numbers that PADS has provided isn’t anything to toot their horn over. Has the question ever been asked or information ever been provided on the number of clients transitioned out, who fell right back into system. Or is that something PADS doen’t follow up on?

We’ll move on when PADS moves on … somewhere else.

No, I am not Todd whoever and no I am not necessarily for PADS in PR. I am just wanting to discuss the more productive topics that have a potential for a solution. This thing has gone round and round and round and round. Requests were made of and attented to by PRMA. I believe the person who asked where PADS was should understand that PADS only shows up when invited. If the PRMA is still working with the city – then PADS is not needed until they come to a resolution. So there is your answer – my guess is they are running their programs in the towns that have invited them and work with them. Also, I have re-read these blogs and it is funny…anytime someone stands up for serving the poor or in my case simply says let’s move on we are accused of being someone from “THE OTHER SIDE”. Is it possible that people from PR, people living in PR or people who own businesses in PR could possibly be in support of the PADS thing or maybe even don’t have an opinion one way or another and are more interested in the corrupt business practices of the city staff and officials?

PADS shows up only where they’re invited? We didn’t invite them, just a bunch of priests and ministers who don’t speak for any of us. Put the damn thing to a referendum and it would lose in a landslide, which is why they won’t do it and don’t even want to conform to the City’s zoning laws. What a scam.

O.K Sell Out, If it’s corrupt city business your interested in then why does this church and Pads corrupt business not interest you. This whole thing is right in the thick of it. The church and Pads don’t want to comply with city zoning and I’m sure there are a few official and staffers who will support the non-compliance of city zoning.

We all understand the desire to help those in need. Those with true hearts will do it with true hearts, others see it as an opportunity to exploit those in need and turn it into a profitable endeavor to feather their own nest. All the while using the kind at heart to volunteer, suck up local resources to monitor the sites, and throw the church in front of the city process train with hopes that they don’t step on the third rail. Meanwhile, with their palms up asking for federal, county, local, and donated dollars, they write themselves a paycheck while the comminities the sites are in, are left to absorb the weak and the weary and all that comes with it.

It somehow looses it’s umph when you see it through the eyes of those who aren’t lacking information but instead took a long hard look at a program that is lacking integrity.

Good point, Underdog.

In addition to reported compensation, some officials of these 501(c)(3) organizations can rival K Street lobbyists with the way they can eat, drink and travel at the expense of their organization, all in the name of fundraising, marketing or public relations. And most of the time it’s within the letter of the law.

But questionable accounting practice related to compensation of officers and legitimate expenses have been a continuing problem with 501(c)(3) and charities generally, as was seen back in the ’90s with the United Way scandals.

No sign that’s the case with PADS, but employees of a “non-profit” 501(c)(3) can still make a bundle within the letter of the law. So don’t start thinking all of these non-profits as being run by Mother Theresas.


Are you saying that if there was a program other then PADS that met all your standards and requirements for “integrity”, but that still serviced the entire homeless community (included those with mental health and additction issues)it would be ok with you for them to be in Park Ridge?

I have not heard the people running non-profits say they are Mother Theresas nor religious in any way shape or form so your comment “So don’t start thinking all of these non-profits as being run by Mother Theresas.” doesn’t hold much water.

Just because someone decides to go to college to be psychologists, social workers, and mental health professionals and then opt to apply that knowledge to the homeless population does not mean they claim to be saints who will serve this population for free.

I’ve pulled the 990’s of many local not for profits after someone in much earlier bogs quoted salaries and guess what Journeys pays their staff less than almost all of them. In addition, I have contacted Journeys to talk to this leaders who you have slandered and slammed and their staff are just as (if not more highly) degreed than other local agencies.

So, I am also interested in knowing the answer to the question in the statement from Anon 3:15 PM. and I pose the question not only to Underdog but also to anyone else interested in responding.

The debate continues…

Well Anon,
If you were paying any attention at all you would know that such programs already exist, not ony Park Ridge but in Maine Township. However they don’t exploit these problem for profit but rather aadress them kindly, whole heartedly, and without an agenda. Just honest hard working individuals who care about solving the problems often before they get to the point of no return.
These are programs I support. Perhaps you should get behind one or two of these local programs and ralley for them as many of them have been around for upwords of 30 years.

Since this subject seems to have raised some interest let me shoot out an idea. If we now recongnize as a community that there is a rising homeless or near homeless problem try aiming your efforts toward the Center of Concern. Along with other issues, one of them is adressing just the needs I forementioned. PREVENTION of homelessness, for local people. Just a thought.

Anon on 06.11.08 3:15 pm:

Your term “the entire homeless community” is vague and ambiguous. But if by that term you mean homeless people from outside the Park Ridge community, then I would be opposed to it UNLESS the Park Ridge shelter was the sole source of a guarantied “magic bullet” 1-dose permanent cure for homelessness that we owed a duty to provide to the world.

But since we don’t, I want to see Park Ridge focus on providing assistance to the “Park Ridge Homeless Community,” which I define as those people who, at the time they became homeless, were permanent Park Ridge residents.

I don’t believe in a “musical chairs” homeless shelter model that has, for example, a “Palatine” homeless person moving from a PADS shelter in Arlington Heights on Friday to one in Evanston on Saturday to one in Park Ridge on Sunday.

There are no PADS Shelters in Evanston.

Journeys also provides prevention services.

Center of Concern is a great agency and do great things for those struggling to stay housed, and those with far less pervasive issues surrounding financial stability. They do not provide services to the street homeless population with specific programs addressing issues like mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence and they also do not put the street homeless to work as does Journeys which supports a client run lawn care business. Journeys also partners with a landlord to provide housing to 8 street homeless individuals. Journeys is the referral and support agency placing people in a mainstream rental housing situation while also providing rental support until the person can sustain on their own. By the way…they also provide counseling and budgeting services.

This was all found out during one phone call and a visit to their center in Palatine. I pulled up as the Journeys van was heading out to bring the lawn care business employees off to their first job of the day.

Come on people!

Come on, Sell out,

In spite of your best efforts at pointing out individual trees and leaves, the big picture of a forest of failure remains. PADS just isn’t very good at any of the things they do, or their self-reported success would be better than it is.

Frankly, there is some growing sentiment that Journeys-PADS should lose their federal funding, as they are a pitiful waste of resources and spend way too much time lobbying.

Sell Out – The only reason anyone would mention Evanston as a sight is because they heard it from PRMA & PADS. THEY said a homeless shelter was needed in PR because of a gap between Des Plaines and Evanston.

Sell out at 5:30
Journeys from PADS to HOPE, INC had an Out Reach Program, based on the Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) process, that served street people, those in libraries, and train stations. But I havent heard about that service in years – maybe it didn’t work.

Journeys from PADS to HOPE, Inc also has a Pathways Development Institute Program where life skills, money management, and housing are provided. “Unfortunately, not all homeless people will be appropriate for enrollment”. Those that aren’t selected are warehoused in the PADS musical chairs program.

O.K Anon, one more time. There are agentcies (meaning more than one) in and around Park Ridge and address these different “pervasive issues” you mentioned, and we have been informed that aside from the “traveling flop” what Pads to hope offers is a DUPLICATION OF SERVICES that agencies in the immidiate area already provide. If in fact you have looked up this information than the list of all these agencies are something you are surely aware of. If haven’t seen the list, just log on to any one of the funding pages for local homeless shelters and you will find a rather looooong list.

To continue to suppot and provide funding for agencies that repeat and duplicate services is irresponsible.

Perhaps with the questionable economy that’s ahead of us it will encourage Federal agencies and even private and corporate donors to take a closer look and some of these programs and will finally weed out those who’s success rate fall a little below par and put our tax dollars toward the ones that the test of time have proven to be

In the real world if you wish to earn a good living, you have to produce. And if you don’t then the boss let’s you go. Maybe in the funding world we could hope that if you don’t produce, the funding stops…..maybe…..

Underdog asked… where is PADS lately?

That’s really a good question. Their roving troupe of homeless are sheltered from October through April, so their probably on break till October!

By the way, has PADS ever said where all of their ‘guests’ spend their summers? Could it be in the new communities they are exposed to on their winter journeys from PADS to PADS?

Random thought – The City of Chicago must love PADS for finding a way to clean-up the homeless problem just in time for the 2016 Olympics. And the EL stop at Cumberland will make it so easy! PADS isn’t fussy – the guests don’t really have to be from the NW suburbs. I wonder if they’ll get a stipend from Chicago?

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