Evanston aldermen tonight will be asked to approve a plan for crisis intervention services that will cost less than a quarter as much as one proposed last fall.

The new plan calls for signing an agreement with Presence Behavioral Health for $55,000 to provide, as described in a city staff memo “24-hour crisis intervention, case management, outreach and home visitation.”

The city’s Mental Health Board last fall had proposed hiring a staff of four city employees to provide the service at a cost of at least $238,460.

The board identified several other communities in the metro area spending from about $100,000 to as much as $850,000 a year on such services.

The proposal grew out of concerns that city staff lacked the skills and resources to deal with various mental health issues and that they were ending up taking requiring response from police and fire  units for non-emergencies — like hospital transport for people with mental illnesses.

Presence Behavioral Health is the new name for the former Resurrection Behavioral Health service, which operates a 24-hour crisis line and opperates a community mental health center at St. Francis Hospital.

The new proposal calls for having a half-time licensed clinical social worker based at the hospital. The worker, an Evanston resident, would be available to make home visits to address residents’ mental health needs as identified by information from first responders and callsto the crisis line.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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