Feeling pressure to respond to growing public complaints about panhandling, Evanston alders Monday considered adding a social work component to a business district “clean team” contract.
The clean team contract, as described in a Monday Evanston Now story, will have New York-based Streetplus hire a crew of seven workers here to clean the city’s business districts under a one-year contract for just over $500,000.
Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) argued for adding up to $125,000 to the contract to have Streetplus add social workers to address issues of homelessness and panhandling.
Streetplus had offered what it calls “social outreach coordination services” as a $75,000 add-on to its program.
Economic Development Manager Paul Zalmezak said city staff had not included that in the plan presented to City Council because when the clean team concept was being put together several months ago the city was working to develop an alternative mental health crisis response plan with Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare and council members wanted to focus on that.
The Trilogy program is now in operation, but, if anything, concerns about panhandling have increased.
Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) said what’s needed downtown “is something different” from what Trilogy is expected to offer.
She proposed adding the $75,000 program proposed by Streetplus
But Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) suggested the Council should postpone action on the Streetplus proposal until its next meeting to provide time to hear from Trilogy.
And Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) said the city should take time to vet the supplier before approving the social work proposal.
The council voted 3-5 to reject Revelle’s proposal to immediately add the social work component to the Streetplus contract.
But the clean team contract was approved on an 8-0 vote, and it appeared there was sufficient support for the social work component to have it come back for consideration at a future Council meeting.