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Mom fears PADS takeover of women’s shelter will jeopardize custody

Cheyenne Tiller 28 her sChey'Mari5 | Submitted photo

Cheyenne Tiller, 28 and her son, Chey'Marion, 5 | Submitted photo

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Updated: September 1, 2013 6:10AM

Lack of safe, affordable housing is a barrier for people struggling with addiction, a fact understood by the late Mary Pat Maddex, a DCFS supervisor who believed that families torn apart by drug abuse deserve a chance to be made whole again,

Cheyenne Tiller, 28, a lesbian mom who waged a four-year custody battle so that she could raise her young son in a stable and drug-free environment, said she’s worried that living in a shelter could jeopardize that custody.

She’s prepared to leave Mary Pat Maddex Place in Gurnee, she said, despite lack of a good housing option to avoid living in PADS, which will take over operation of the building on Aug. 23.

“PADS isn’t independent living,” Tiller said. “I’ve lived around partiers, addicts — people who did live at PADS and didn’t care. If I wanted to live that way, I would have gone to a shelter and given up custody of my son.”

Tiller, who rides a PACE bus 3 hours to and from an $8.44-an-hour job as a cashier at a discount store in Vernon Hills, said the Mary Pat Maddex program has helped her stay clean and be a better mom.”

“I’m spending more time with my son,” she said. “I hold my own youth AA group. But now I’m at a weak point.”

The search for a new place, right before her son is to begin school, is stressful.

“They’re wrong,” Tiller said of Lake County Residential Development Corp., which is severing its contract with Catholic Charities.

“They’re putting us in a situation that could cause everybody to relapse.”

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