Blue Island Moves to Put Reformed Alcoholics on Street
BLUE ISLAND, Ill., May 31, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ — Affordable Recovery Housing (“ARH”) filed a lawsuit today in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the City of Blue Islandand Fire Chief Terry Vrshek for threatening an illegal eviction and giving limited time to appeal to the City Council. ARH is sharing occupancy with five nuns at the Sisters of Sorrow Convent on Western Avenue and houses 73 men committed to living a changed life without
. On May 24th, right before Labor Day weekend, many were celebrating the service that war veterans in their community gave to our country. That was the same day that Fire Chief Terry Vrshek gave a “cease and desist” order to the non-profit which is aimed at assisting veterans and non-violent ex-offenders. If ARH could not plan and install a sprinkler system for the entire residence by 9AM, June 1, 2012 all their members but 14 would be kicked out onto the street.
This non-profit recovery program has been recognized by the Cook County Board of Commissions for an outstanding program of supporting veterans and non-violent ex-offenders in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. In fact, Mayor Peloquin praised it effusively in 2011.
Attorney John Mauck had this to say, “Affordable Recovery has worked cooperatively with Blue Island, including Mayor Peloquin, for nine months including six fire inspections, none of which indicated sprinklers were needed. The Mayor’s abrupt reversal of position and attempt to force the reformed alcoholics onto the street smells of political opportunism. His actions are shameful particularly for a congressional candidate who claims to be a Republican.”
The convent/boarding house has received many visits from officials and has been recognized as going above and beyond the requested updates with “state of the art” improvements. Fire Chief Terry Vrshek’s order, last week, was the only inspection in the last 9 months to request a sprinkler system not cited to any code, with a small 7 day window of compliance and abrupt consequence of evacuation. This order was sent to John and Mary Jo Dunleavy, Executive Directors of ARH who attempted to reach out to both the Mayor and the City Council, but their request to discuss this seven- day order has been ignored.
During ARH’s nine months of residence at the convent, official inspectors gave “verbal” approval to move in additional men after fire systems and staircase enclosures were completed. These boarding approvals were given by Fire Chief Copp who commented on the good job done by ARH on accomplishing more in these nine months than a previous organization (Pace School) had in the 12 years it received government funding. Three hundred (300) community residents want ARH to stay right where they are and have signed a petition of agreement with the non-profit’s mission and values.
Principal architect, Edward Yung, was astonished at the abrupt June 1st deadline for sprinkler system installment. Mr. Yung sent a rebuttal letter to the city and addressed their refusal to work with the program on time restraints. He states, “The question arises to the immediate need of a sprinkler system in the residential sleeping quarters…The immediate installation may be deferred for an indefinite period of time if the (convent dorms) take the actions of a night watchman, hard-wired smoke detectors, and emergency escape ladders.” The city has not responded to Yung.
“I have gone through this program and now serve as a mentor for ARH. We are doing good for the community and now the city wants to throw us out on the street.” Says Aaron Blankus, a Mentor who lives at the convent.
In the letter to City Council Members, Mary Jo Dunleavy pleaded, for the sake of the men in her care, stating, “I know that you will agree that putting these clients on the streets of Blue Island is not an option.”
The case has been assigned to the Honorable Robert M. Dow, Jr. A copy of the complaint from May 31st is HERE. For additional supporting documents or to schedule an interview, please contact Tom Ciesielka at 312-422-1333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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