Homeless residents who are being evicted from underneath a pair of Uptown viaducts are filing suit against the city of Chicago, their lawyers announced Friday.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday on behalf of homeless residents by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, alleges that the city's redesign of viaducts on Wilson and Lawrence avenues violates the Homeless Bill of Rights becuase it "discriminates against them solely because they are homeless."
The redesign of the viaducts would route bike traffic onto a new sidewalk-based bike path, forcing the city to remove tents that homeless residents in the area were sleeping in before construction can move forward.
"The city had the option of adding the bike lanes without reducing the width of the sidewalks, but consciously chose not to take that option," Doug Schenkelberg, executive director of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, said in a statement. "We believe this decision was intentional and the city wants to simply remove people experiencing homelessness from the line of sight of other residents without providing any permanent support."
The city did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit seeks an emergency order for the city to provide housing to residents that will be displaced by the plan, and to change the design before construction begins, according to the coalition.
As part of a demonstration against the proposal, protesters blocked part of southbound Lake Shore Drive near Montrose Avenue Thursday morning after homeless people were removed from their shelters.
Police said the demonstrators were protesting homelessness, and that many did not want to move from their tents.
Photos from the scene showed people holding signs with messages like "Give us a home or leave us alone."