At the Crib, the Night Ministry’s youth shelter in the basement of the LakeView Lutheran Church on West Addison, there is a 9 p.m. ritual that can break the hardest heart.
There is room for only 21 foam mattresses on the floor of the single-room shelter. So whenever more than 21 young people — mostly members of the LGBTQ community — are seeking refuge from the streets, they draw lots. The losers must leave. There are tears, embraces, couples sometimes split, and it is not unknown for one homeless youth to give his place to someone who needs it more. I’ve seen it happen.
So when I first heard that the Night Ministry plans to move the Crib to a sprawling industrial building at 1735 N. Ashland, I assumed the idea is to accommodate more kids.
They won’t. They’ll still house 21, to preserve a homey environment. The Crib will, however, introduce a new level of luxury.
“There will actually be beds and not mattresses on the floor,” said the Night Ministry’s Burke Patten, the benefit of having several dedicated rooms. “People won’t be sleeping and recreating in the same space.
Maybe. The new location is leased, but its use as a shelter needs government approval; the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals will hear the case on Friday.
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