To the Trustees of the Village of Orland Park,
I am both a resident and a pastor in Orland Park. I love our city and the church I lead has enjoyed a friendly relationship with the village for decades. I know that the board is seeking to do what is best for the village and its residents in seeking a temporary restraining order and injunction to stop Hope Covenant Church from operating an emergency sleeping center once a week. I write this open letter in the hopes that you will seek an amicable, reasonable and quick agreement with Hope Covenant Church so that the church can continue to operate its shelter for the needy and homeless once a week.
Hope Covenant is partnering with BEDS Plus. This organization has served the Southwest Cook County area for 30 years. It serves our residents. BEDS Plus is a leader in the care of our homeless population. This is what they provide:
A shelter night begins with a warm dinner. Each guest is provided with a sleeping area, mattress, and clean linen. All overnight guests can request clothing, including winter gear, and toiletries. A volunteer site leader and BEDS case manager act as resources for clients each night until 11:00 pm and remain on-call throughout the evening. Guests are provided breakfast in the morning and are given a sack lunch. At least one shelter per week has shower facilities. Showers also are available daily at the Day Centers and through YMCA shower passes. Clients are provided with bus passes or other transportation when needed.
BEDS Plus enters into an annual agreement with each shelter site. We provide management oversight, liability insurance, volunteer recruitment, on-site case management, client registration, and data entry into the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), as well as all necessary supplies. To ensure effective management, our staff regularly meets with volunteer site leaders and communicates with faith community leaders.
Beds Plus largely serves the homeless population from our area. A large part of those they serve have irregular or part-time jobs, are women who are escaping domestic violence and over 13% of the population they serve are elderly citizens who have nowhere else to go. BEDS Plus is not just a shelter but an organization that partners with churches to provide holistic care for its clients through job training, medical care, therapy and housing assistance. They do significant good in our community.
Personally, the injunction seems heavy handed. It can easily be interpreted as Orland seeking to not want “those kind” in our city. When the city says things like it will,” suffer irreparable harm due to the continued violations” or that the city believes the shelter presents a, “continued threat to public health and safety.”, it is hard not to see this as the city using its considerable legal and financial resources to force this shelter out of Orland.
I hope this is not true. Tonight, you meet as a board concerning this issue and I ask that you find a reasonable way forward that shows that the village is making a good-will effort to find a solution. It’s my hope that Orland would be a partner in making this happen. This program serves our citizens; please show that you care about the hurting and destitute in our midst.
Mercy and compassion are good things to be known for.
Rev. Ronald Citlau
Lead Pastor, Calvary Church of Orland Park