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Around Rogers Park: Howard Street – Rising Crime and Community Impact

Several RPBG members with properties on or near Howard Street have noticed a disturbing trend in the general area around the Red Line Station since the beginning of the year – a noticeable increase in loitering, drug dealing and general criminal behavior. This has made life harder for property owners who own buildings in the area. These property owners are hearing from residential and commercial tenants alike who are concerned about safety and the impact this activity has had on their businesses and their concerns about their own personal safety. In at least some cases, tenants are choosing to leave the area due to these concerns.

There are a lot of theories about why this is happening. No one doubts that the pandemic and civil unrest have combined to put people out of work, in financial peril and in a bad frame of mind. Many people are angry, frustrated and disillusioned by government at all levels for what is perceived as an inadequate response to these multiple crises. There is also a lot of pent up anger over the fact that the pandemic and civil unrest have disproportionately impacted low-income and minority communities.

But these conditions are universal and do not fully explain what is happening on Howard Street. Another theory might. This is a theory that can’t be proved, but also can’t be ruled out. The theory proposes that CPD – tired of being scapegoated and vilified, and faced with strident calls for their own defunding – have pulled back in response to increased criminal activity on Howard Street and in other locations across the city where crime is on the rise. Even if this theory is true, it is not necessarily something that the police are doing deliberately. Many clearly feel frustrated and demoralized over the increasing responsibilities they are being given, even while much of the citizenry resents them for their actions.

What is not in dispute is the sense that things are worse along Howard Street in 2020 than they have been in a long time. Several members of RBPG who are active in the area have highlighted this issue, and are being impacted by it. If left unaddressed, this increase in criminality could undo years of progress than many of our members have worked so hard to achieve along the Howard Street corridor.

RPBG calls on Alderwoman Maria Hadden and 24th District Commander Joseph Brennan to work together to address this problem and reverse this trend. Everyone should be united in their desire for safe communities and crime-free streets. Right now, that goal is elusive on Howard Street. The neighborhood’s future may depend on how well our community leaders are able to address this problem.




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