Moving the problem to another location.
City workers proved to be in no big hurry Monday to remove a homeless camp from an area of Lower Wacker Drive known as The Triangle.
Unlike the police show of force used in last summer’s eviction of tent cities at two Uptown viaducts, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration took a low-key approach this time to shutting down the longtime encampment that occupies a triangular-shaped paved lot just west of Michigan Avenue.
An 8 a.m. deadline for homeless residents to move their belongings came and went with no effort by the city to force their removal.
By midafternoon it was apparent Monday wasn’t the real deadline after all. That now seems to be Friday, which is the new date set for the area to be cleaned by the Department of Streets and Sanitation, although those in charge couldn’t be pinned down.
In the clearest sign the city is serious about closing the encampment, a city contractor began drilling holes in the pavement to erect fence posts around the site — the first step in enclosing the area to keep the homeless people from returning.
As a result, homeless individuals continued to slowly pack their belongings and move voluntarily — many of them relocating just three blocks to the east on the sidewalk of Lower North Water Street.
What’s the difference between them living there or in the Triangle?
Visibility mostly. Relatively few motorists travel on Lower North Water Street compared to busy Lower Wacker.
Another difference, the homeless people would tell you, is that there are many more rats at the new location.
The city says the camp is being closed for the safety of the homeless people, but it’s hard to find anybody on the receiving end of this concern who really believes that to be true.
More likely, the city is responding to pressure from individuals who live and work in the area and are intimidated by the people who hang out in the Triangle.
One of the homeless individuals who moved down the street was Chris Carter. I met him at the Triangle last week.
“This will be my last summer out here,” promised Carter, taking a swig on a plastic Sprite bottle that smelled like it contained something a bit stronger.
Another was a fidgety Charles Hunter, 34, who told me: “I’m bipolar, schizophrenic paranoid. But I’m trying to get my body in the best shape. That’s why I have to breathe outside air.”