Monday, August 29, 2022

How Aldermen Are Spending $100K In No-Strings-Attached Money

From an article in today's Chicago Tribune:

"When Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot rolled out her 2022 budget, she offered each alderman a $100,000 sweetener to spend in their wards virtually however they please. [...]

Ald. James Cappleman, who has announced he won’t seek reelection next year in the Uptown-based 46th Ward, is spending much of his grant on housing homeless people in hotels and motels.

  • Cappleman allocated $7,000 to Cornerstone Community Outreach to assist Heartland Alliance Health with providing vital supplies such as phones and Ventra cards for a pilot program to give shelter to homeless people, according to the contract. 
  • Another $48,000 will go toward fellow nonprofit organization Trilogy, mostly to find emergency housing for more than 50 homeless people at motels and hotels, running about $100 per night, the contract says. 
  • The remaining $45,000 was awarded to Heartland Alliance Health to assist people living outside with temporary housing.

Cappleman’s office aimed to put the microgrant money toward long-term “outcomes-oriented pilot programs to reduce chronic homelessness” that could be duplicated elsewhere in the city, a staff member said."

The Trib is requesting FOIAs to find out how each alderman is allocating the money, but gives a few examples of other wards' spending. Neither of Uptown's other wards (48th - Harry Osterman or 47th - Matt Martin) are included in the Tribune article.

  • "Freshman North Side Ald. Andre Vasquez is spending $23,000 for a new 40th Ward website. He also paid $15,000 to an advocacy group to engage residents about their perceptions of how safe they are and “think through” public safety solutions that don’t involve policing."
  • "19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea is hiring private, unarmed security to patrol business corridors in Beverly, Mount Greenwood and Morgan Park."
  • "Ald. Daniel La Spata, 1st: $50,000 for an anti-violence program in Logan Square, $25,000 to run a forestry program and $25,000 for a health and wellness program.
  • Ald. Pat Dowell, 3rd: $16,000 for a street outreach program.
  • Ald. Michele Smith, 43rd: $50,000 on youth mentorship and education.
  • Ald. Maria Hadden, 49th: $5,000 on “voter education and mobilization” within the South Asian community and $5,000 on a food pantry service."

1 comment:

  1. When I was first elected in 2011, the City of Chicago was not yet focused on evidence-based, best practices to get people housed within a timely manner. The notion of funding social services for outcomes was in the infancy stages. The City adopted a plan to address homelessness back in 2003 and it was revised in 2012 at my urging, but my issue was that we weren't implementing many of the interventions that were outlined in the 2 reports. Then along came COVID and that shaped the way we started tackling homelessness.... we were forced to focus on outcome measures because it became a public health issue, and public health is all about gathering data to promote outcomes.

    Last June 15, I met with Mayor Lightfoot and I discussed other steps that cities across the country are already doing to get people housed more quickly, especially for those living in encampments who have traditionally been resistant to services due to a truckload of obstacles. The #1 issue was we weren't thinking like someone who felt like their only choice was to live in an encampment. It's by understanding that mindset and focusing on outliers who are the most resistant to accepting services that we're starting to make some headway.

    This is my last time to vote on the City budget, and I've already made it very clear what must happen to set us on a course where homelessness really becomes a temporary situation if it is to occur at all. There are MANY PARTS to the puzzle, but I'm convinced a public health approach will help lead the way.