10 Years Since Katrina, Yet Legal Battle continues for Chicago Shelter


August 27, 2015

10 Years Since Katrina, Yet Legal Battle continues for Chicago Shelter

(Chicago, Illinois—August 27, 2015) A Chicago homeless shelter which suffered damages from the City of Chicago’s refusal to permit the housing of displaced Hurricane Katrina victims, is still in court after ten years of legal battle with the city. The nearly 10-year old case started when Alderman Beale of the 9th Ward and the city of Chicago prevented World Outreach Conference Center from taking over a former YMCA in the Roseland neighborhood.

Shortly after World Outreach acquired the YMCA in 2005, the ministry sought to make the 168 single-room occupancy units available for affordable housing. FEMA needed living quarters in Chicago for as many as 10,000 Hurricane Katrina victims. World Outreach offered its rooms but the city at the direction of Alderman Beale refused to grant World Outreach the permits it needed. FEMA was forced to look elsewhere. The city of Chicago did not provide World Outreach with permits until August 2007.

When acquiring the property, World Outreach intended to use their shelter for similar services as the YMCA. However, Alderman Anthony Beale wished the YMCA land be sold to real estate developer who was also a personal friend and financial backer. When applying for a permit in 2005, the city of Chicago rezoned the YMCA as a Manufacturing zone and then filed a lawsuit aimed at preventing World Outreach from carrying on charitable and religious activities.

In June of 2015, a three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Chicago for the second time and in favor of World Outreach. The 7th Circuit described the City’s suit as “frivolous,” “possibly malevolent,” and a “substantial burden” on World Outreach’s religious activities.

The 7th Circuit noted in its opinion, “Chicago alderman are powerful figures in the city’s political system, and Alderman Beale may have pressured the City’s zoning department from using the building as it intended even though the intended use would be virtually identical to that of its predecessor.”

The case will proceed to trial in the United States District Court in March, 2016. The jury will be asked to consider the role of Alderman Beale in preventing World Outreach’s ministries from using the building and if the city should be liable for damages, including loss of FEMA funds that would have come from housing Hurricane Katrina victims.

“The city of Chicago finally admitted the center and single room housing could proceed but not after it froze out hundreds of Hurricane Katrina victims from obtaining temporary shelter. The whole saga is a patent example of government corruption that plagues Chicago,” said John Mauck of Mauck & Baker, attorney for World Outreach.

For press inquiries, contact attorney John Mauck at 312-853-8709 or jmauck@mauckbaker.com and attorney Noel W. Sterett at 312-726-6454 or nsterett@mauckbaker.com.