Despite state law and assurances from city officials that the city would continue township programs, about 20 speakers at Monday’s town meeting voiced fears township dissolution would leave poor people out in the cold.
The meeting, called by petition from residents opposing the dissolution referendum that the City Council has placed on the March election ballot, also featured high praise for caseworker Heny Colquitt and other township employees.
Of about 20 speakers, nearly half said they had received general assistance or other benefits from the township.
One man, who said he’s now living at the Hilda’s Place homeless shelter, said a city takeover of the programs “would take away the human aspect” of aid.
“There’s love behind those checks,” Ron Kaptur said, “and we’re not going to see that from you guys.”
Another Hilda’s Place resident, Christopher Robinson, said, “There’s a lot of unfortunate people out here just trying to look for a job. We’re crying out. We need this help out here because the economy is messed up.”
Emmy Seals of 2138 Dewey Ave. said she’s been on general assistance a long time.
“We need general assistance,” Seals said. “If you take it away there’s going to be a lot of robberies, killings, stealing in stores and stuff” from financially desperate people.
Gregory Lord said he’s homeless and has lived in Evanston all his life. “You’re taking away these things that we need. There’s going to be chaos.”
Madelyn Ducre of 1929 Foster St., said she’s never been on general assistance, “but I know people who have been, and it’s helped them.”
She said she couldn’t understand why the township board wants to abolish the township and claimed it would lead to a surge in drug dealing.
“People got to survive some kind of way,” Ducre said, and they’d be tempted to deal drugs because they have to feed their families.
Just before the meeting ended City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, who’s also serving as acting township supervisor, read from the state law authorizing the referendum — introduced as SB1585 — which specifies that the city would have to continue all the township’s key programs.
And he also repeated highlights of a plan for how the city would takeover township responsibilities that he released in late October in response to a series of questions from the League of Women Voters.