Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Ald. Cappleman: Chicago Market, Housing & Women's Rights

From Ald. Cappleman's latest email update:

"In the last few years, there have been many highly visible changes in the 46th Ward, but I also want to highlight some behind-the-scenes work I've been doing to improve both the ward and the City of Chicago.

With the Gerber Building nearing completion, I'm working with the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) to iron out details that would make it possible for the entire space to be used by Chicago Market, a cooperative grocery store focused on providing local, organic foods and building community. The newly rehabbed CTA Wilson Station was a game-changer for the area, and it's crucial that its accompanying retail space captures the essence of the community. Chicago Market does that and more. The community support is very strong for a cooperatively owned grocery store that hires from the neighborhood, provides access to healthy, local, sustainable products and transparently shares information about where your food originates.

Chicago Market will reach a milestone of 1,000 owners this week. If you're already an owner, be proud and consider inviting your friends or neighbors. If you're not an owner, NOW is the time to join us and be a person who affects change!

For more information and to join, click here.

You can also come celebrate with Chicago Market to meet board members, owners and those interested in becoming members on January 27 from 2-5pm. For more information and event location, click here

Presence Health sought $5.5 million in TIF funds that had been promised years ago to convince the company to move its headquarters to 200 S. Wacker. In return, the company agreed to open four community health care centers in under-served Chicago neighborhoods where there is high poverty and fewer options for health care.

Although many of my colleagues voted yes to expand health care access, I and others voted no because of our belief that all women deserve full and complete access to care, including reproductive health care. Since Presence Health follows the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, the company does not provide women with adequate information or options regarding miscarriage management, birth control and abortion. I was among 18 aldermen who voted no on this ordinance, which ultimately passed with 31 votes.

I joined the Mayor of Chicago as the co-sponsor of this ordinance that prioritizes permanent housing for those who do not have housing and are frequent users of crisis response systems, such as emergency rooms. This measure is even more comprehensive than the housing-first model, which I convinced the mayor and Department of Family and Support Services to use as a pilot project for those previously living under viaducts (see report here).

The Flexible Housing Subsidy Program is an even more coordinated response that includes the City's Department of Family & Support Services, Department of Public Health, Department of Planning and Development and Chicago Housing Authority. It's based on a similar program already being used in Los Angeles.

What we learned from housing people living under the viaducts is that the process to get them into permanent housing was lengthy due to complicated funding requirements and a lack of eligible rental units. This flexible housing subsidy program will simplify the process for both landlords and tenants, and will more closely reflect private sector leasing processes, to make it easier to house people quickly.

Just as it did with the Los Angeles model, the initial $1.8 million allotted for this program is expected to grow and be sustained by attracting non-traditional and cross-sector investors such as hospitals, health care systems, and philanthropic organizations.

Because there is a substantial potential savings for Medicaid due to reduced emergency room admissions once someone has been housed, I will also be working with our state officials to fight for Medicaid to use a small portion of these savings to pay for the intensive case management services that will be part of this program.

My office is participating in the Justice and Mental Health Collaborative, a group that is funded by a Department of Justice grant to work on recidivism issues in Cook County. My staff joined the collaborative to bolster the efforts of the city Intergovernmental Task Force on Recidivism that I am spearheading.

The Justice and Mental Health Collaborative, which is a year old, is working to identify alternatives to repeated incarceration for people suffering from mental illness. Recently, because of my leadership, two city agencies--the Department of Family and Support Services and the Chicago Department of Public Health--also joined in the collaborative.

The task force already had an impressive list of participating agencies including Office of the Chief Judge, Office of the Cook County Board President, Cook County Sheriff, Cook County State’s Attorney Office, Cook County Public Defender, and Chicago Police Department.

Now, I have involved city agencies that are a natural fit with the work the collaborative is doing, since the city provides or funds resources for those being released from jail. Recidivism among people living with mental health issues is a prevalent issue in the 46th ward, and I believe this group’s work has the potential to make a significant change for these individuals.

Ald. James Cappleman

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