City officials face outrage from homeless residents after crews cleared their encampment

Earlier this month, a group of homeless people were happy to get out of the cold, thanks to a local activist. 

However, when they returned to their encampment, they were shocked to find out that their belongings were gone.

Now, the city faces outrage from these homeless residents and a woman advocating for them. 

"This is what breaks my heart: They trusted me to go into the hotel, not knowing it would cost them everything," said Aleta Clark.

For four years, Clark has fed those living under the viaduct at 51st and Wentworth.

Last week, when wind chills went into the negative, Clark booked hotel rooms for five men and had them leave their belongings behind.  

On Wednesday, streets and sanitation crews cleared the area of everything, including tents, blankets and their personal items.


One man even lost a picture of his late wife.

Ald. Pat Dowell provided pictures of the encampment, saying the area was overflowing with rats, filth and debris.

Dowell says they posted signs that the viaduct would be cleaned days in advance, and also asked Clark to have someone present to show what should be kept and discarded.

"She didn't show up, no one showed. She dropped the ball," said Ald. Dowell.

Clark says she thought she made it clear to the Alderman’s Chief of Staff that the belongings should be left alone and that they’d be back to retrieve them.

"In the past, when I’ve had conversations with her, I never had to come out here," said Clark.