The number of Evanston residents receiving general assistance benefits has dropped slightly since the city assumed full control over the program in May.

The assistance caseload had nearly doubled in the months immediately after the city started running the program on an interim basis after the resignation Township Supervisor Gary Gaspard.

Voters approved dissolution of the township last fall and the township board held its final meeting in late April.

Health Director Evonda Thomas-Smith, in a memo to aldermen prepared for tonight’s Human Services Committee meeting, says 188 people were receiving general assistance benefits in January, when one caseworker was trying to handle all the clients.

Since a second caseworker was hired, Thomas-Smith says, the staff has begun to start enforcing program requirements.

She says a new partnership with Connections for the Homeless has led to 13 recipients relocating to new homes outside of Evanston, which takes them off the GA rolls here.

In the last three months, she added, a total of 50 participants have left the rolls for a variety of reasons — including finding work, receiving social security benefits or other government assistance — as well as persons who were hospitalized, incarcerated or entered treatment programs.

But in the meantime staff members have interviewed 41 potential new clients and approved 37 of them.

Overall, she says, the program has a total of 175 active participants now with 10 other people waiting to go through the intake process.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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