The mayor’s task force on homelessness is scheduled to start work Friday in Evanston, just as the federal government announced the renewal of nearly $1 million in funding for 11 programs for the homeless in the city.

The task force, appointed by Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, includes government business, civic, service, education and faith-based leaders in the community.

“In recent years, Evanston has seen a rise in the number of people who are homeless or precariously housed, including more families with children,” Tisdahl said in a statement. “The cost to individuals and our community is enormous. This task force, comprising a wide range of people, knowledge and skills, is taking on the challenge of formulating a plan to address it.”

The task force will study the dimensions of the problem and learn about other cities and their plans to tackle homelessness. It will then develop the elements of a plan that will outline strategies to address and prevent homelessness through a community wide effort.

After Fridays 7:30 a.m. meeting in Room 2404 of the Civic Center, the group is expected to meet monthly for about seven months to develop a plan for presentation to the City Council.

The mayor says task force members will then be invited to assist in the implementation of the plan through private and public channels.

In the grant announcement Wednesday, HUD said it will renew funding for Evanston programs including Claire/Ganey, Claridge, Entry Point, Family Housing Evanston, Family Housing Evanston YW, Hilda’s Place, HMIS, Pathways, Pathways Plus, PSH Evanston and PSH Expansion.

The grants are part of a $1.4 billion program aiding the homeless in over 7,000 communities nationwide. HUD officials said  the Continuum of Care grants are designed to reduce long-term or chronic homelessness.

HUD says it will will award additional funds to new projects later this year.  

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Experts?

    So these people are NOW going to get together on the issue?  How about including some real experts, perhaps in the area of poverty and homelessness.  I think we can find a couple of good economists in the area.

  2. What is the point?

    One of the most effective organizations for ending homelessness in Cook County and perhaps the largest on the North Shore and one of the largest in suburban Cook County is based in Evanston. 

    Why is a task force needed when an organization is in place with a 20+ year highly successful track record – a record that would be more effective except for the fact it is starved of the resources it needs to do more?

    The City politicians (not so much the staff), more often than not, get in the WAY of the effectiveness of community organizations on this issue rather than provide supportive assistance.  One alderperson in particular has been a long-standing opponent and obstacle – expressing the belief that by building community resources for helping the least fortunate we actually invite more to come to our community.  (One astute local nurse reacted upon hearing that with the response, " it’s like saying by building hospitals, more people will become sick.")

    In these times of budget issues and other priorities, the value of this task force is questionable.  People in our community know what to do.  They need resources to do it.  The city needs to stopping standing on their neck while lending a hand to help them up!

    There is a wonderful, rich network of community organizations and volunteers that work everyday in a number of fine orgainzations.  The Evanston Alliance on homelessness, the InterFaith Action Council, and Connections for the Homeless (with its many programs and highly regarded successful track record in this area)  among others.

    Enough talk and task forces.  More support for the actions and programs these organizations provide.

    If you need to know more – volunteer to help at these places; concerned community members are always welcome and needed. Donate money. The need is greater than the funding. 

    Learn more. Get educated. Visit their websites:

    Act. No more talk.

  3. Homeless

    It looks like we have 11  programs that are receiving HUD $$ to help the homeless.   Do we really need 11 different programs?  I hope that the task force will look at some manner  to consolidate these so that more money can be spent on the programs rather than the bureraucrats runing them.   Oh dear,   I forgot that people on the task force probably have a stake in keeping all of these programs.

  4. Well lets start by stopping

    Well lets start by stopping the giving of change to the beggers in town who take this money to the liquor store or the crack dealer. This initial step will make Evanston a less desirable place to head and stay.

    The reality is that a lot of the homeless people seen on a regular basis are mentally ill and or have substance abuse issues. They really don’t want your help, they just want your money. Those truly trying to get themselves out of the homeless problem are rarely seen.

    They stay out of trouble, they don’t want to beg and they are efforting to get themselves in a better position.

    Unfortunatly most people are only looking to remove the faces they see begging on the street and the only way to stop this is to stop dropping change in their cup. If you think they are putting this money to good use you better jump on the reality boat quick or you will just continue to feed into this problem.

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