Evanston city officials say they’ve expanded services for the indigent and enrolled more eligible clients since taking over day-to-day supervision of Evanston Township operations several months ago.

The city’s health director, Evonda Thomas-Smith, who’s now also serving as acting township director, says that, working with the city’s program manager for youth and young adults, Kevin Brown, she’s identified 26 people Brown had been working with who were eligible for general assistance or emergency assistance payments but were unaware the program existed.

Thomas-Smith also told aldermen at Monday’s Human Services Committee meeting that, working with the new Erie Family Health Center in Evanston, the township staff is now in the process of getting about 80 percent of its clients covered under the affordable care act.

The rest, she said, already had other insurance coverage.

“We’re looking at a half-million dollars a year in savings in medical and pharmaceutical costs for the township,” under that program, Thomas-Smith said, adding that Erie has been “fantastic” in providing outreach and services.

She added the township has hired a second case coordinator, Indira Perkins, to help with the increasing case load as more local residents learn that the township programs are available.

Thomas-Smith said she and Perkins recently attended a training program on the software used to manage the general assistance program and found some opportunities to improve effieciency and achieve costs savings, particularly on pharmacy expenses.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said she was excited to hear about the health care signups and that she had been sure the general assistance clients would be eligible.

And Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said the township had been spending so much from its own budget for medical and pharmaceutical expenses.

“Our intution told us there were significant savings to be had by coordinating with other programs — not just the affordable care act, but also with Erie,” and she praised Thomas-Smith for making it happen.

General assistance, the township’s largest program, provides up to $500 a month to persons who are not eligible for any other state or federal financial assistance programs and who do not have income or resources to provide for their basis needs.

Evanston Township has the same boundaries as the City of Evanston, and voters are deciding this month whether to approve a referendum that would abolish the separate townshp government structure and turn its responsibilities over to the city.

Evanston aldermen already serve as the township’s board of trustees, and in the wake of the resignation of the township supervivisor, the trustees appointed City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz as acting township supervisor.

He, in turn, named Thomas-Smith to manage the township office, which has been moved to the Civic Center from rented offices at Dodge Avenue and Main Street.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Vote “YES” to Eliminate the Township !

    Last Saturday, I attended the League of Women Voters meeting to discuss factual information about the Township. After listening to the presentations I believe there are 3 reasons to Eliminate the Township:

    1. Save Money.
    2. Improve Government
    3. Enhance Services to those in need

    Save money – Alderman Jane Grover said that compared with a couple of years ago, there would be $250,000 in ANNUAL cost savings. In addition, the Head of Health Services, Evonda Thomas-Smith said there’s another $500,000 in Health care and prescription drug costs to be saved. (When people on General Assistance go to the Emergency Room and don’t have Health Care insurance, taxpayers pay LIST PRICE for drugs – think $18 for 2 Tylenol tablets)

    Improve government – The Township structure is redundant. The Township has the same boundaries as the City of Evanston. ALL the current Township services will be transferred to the City of Evanston. The people who need the current General Assistance, Emergency Assistance, and Real Estate Tax Assessor services will continue to receive them.

    Bottom line – all services will continue, and taxpayers save about $750,000 per year.

    And the added benefit is we have one less government body to oversee. Currently, as a taxpayer, if I want to stay informed, I have to monitor the City of Evanston Government, Evanston Public Library, School District 65, School District 202, Cook County, State Representative, State Senator, US Representative, and two US Senators, and that doesn’t include Water Reclamation District of Chicago, North Shore Mosquito Abatement, Oakton Community College, and Cook County Forest Preserve District.

    You may recall in the recent Township election the newly elected Supervisor had a difficult time developing a budget, and wanted to hire more people – Monitoring all these government entities takes a lot of time and we can’t afford redundant bureaucracies in today’s economy.

    Enhance Services to those in need – The General Assistance and Emergency Assistance programs that are currently provided by the Township are important and will be continued to be provided by the City of Evanston. In fact, those services are required by law to be provided.

    However, the needs of people receiving General Assistance and Emergency Services are not just limited to money. The City of Evanston through the strong leadership of Evonda Thomas-Smith is already working with these clients to get health care at Erie Health through the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare).

    In addition there are other organizations and resources that are available in the community that are currently not being utilized by many clients.

    Lastly, the Real Estate Tax services provided by the Tax Assessor will continue to be provided by the City of Evanston. Please vote on March 18th – also early voting is currently available.

    Vote “YES” to Eliminate the Township!

    The LWVE Township Referendum Fact Sheet can be found here.

    –Jim Young

    1. Are we going to see any savings here?
      Jim – I am not defending the township, was it operate well? no Is the city operate well? no

      Ask yourself, Did Grover explain the $250,000 in savings, one item Wally will tell you he’s saving on is rent, how true is this? You might say, we are saving the rent but we pay for the space at the Civic Center.

      Are transfering clients to ObamaCare a savings? yes that may save the local taxpayers, but we are still paying the bill indirectly.
      Ms Thomas is a highly paid city employee who is now operating the township, so what is she not doing at the city?
      Do we need her position at the city or the township. Wally has a way of pretending he creates cost savings.

      The townships has a surplus were will it go most likely to Wally’s slush fund? What happen when Wally closed the public TV station here an moved it, he took the cable tax and transfered it to his department almost $1 million. And by the way the so called public TV station is now in a city building which is not accessable to disable, it on the second floor with no public elevator, (frieght).

      Why hasn’t Wally, Grover and the others, tell us the cost of operating the township after the city takes it over, what will be added to the city’s part of the tax bill once the Township disappears?

      Jim don’t be fooled by Wally’s show, next time you see Wally ask him what the current profit is for the water sales, see if you get a better of answer than what they are telling you the real cost of the city operating the township.

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