Here’s a recap our live coverage of tonight’s Evanston City Council Planning and Development Committee meeting.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. The Alderwoman’s ignorance of Housing is astounding.

    I watched, on the City’s YouTube website, the beginning discussion of this meeting at the urging of friends who volunteer at one of the community’s housing organizations.

    The ignorance and uneducated bias of the chairing alderwoman is astounding. 

    She publicly humiliates on camera a family that is receiving public housing funds.  While not mentioning them by name, she calls out enough facts of their situation that anyone with any familiarity with clients in the program can figure out who she’s publicly labelling with a scarlet letter.  She berates how long they’ve been in the system and how they’ve had difficulty meeting their goals and suggests that by taking away $800 it will incent them to do more.  This is so wrong on so many levels.  To name only one: If she were a caseworker at the housing organization she mentions by name, she’d be fired and open to lawsuits for violating the laws and ethics which govern healthcare services and social workers.  Because she’s a politician, she can call out a strugging family with impunity.

    Further, her ignorance is astounding as far as her knowledge and understanding of the web of support organizations that serve the homeless and at-risk populations of our community.  She has no appreication of how funding works on a federal, state and local level for the clients of the housing NON-PROFIT’s in the community.  These groups were formed by the local faith-based groups responding to social needs when the City wouldn’t.  Instead, she attacks them as if they were a FOR-PROFIT making money off the homeless and at risk populations.  She speaks in support of ideas and agencies with little experience or expertise in these specialized areas. She attacks the leading local agency that has widespread support and respect for ‘getting it’ and achieving results – success and experience gained in over 25 years of working with these at-risk and challenged populations.  Yet, she won’t sit down with the agency and educate herself on the realities of the homeless.  She should volunteer as a board member for 1 year.  Join the committee that oversees the agency’s programs.  Sit on the finance committee for 1 year.  Then perhaps she’d have some basis to publicly rail, with experience and knowledge, that the agency is not entitled to the money it seeks on behalf of its client community. 

    As one local hospital nurse observed, this alderwoman’s antipathy towards organizations providing housing solutions in our town is like railing against hospitals.  Her attitude expressing a view that the reason we have homelessness is because of the existence of a homeless organization is like saying the reason people get sick is because we have hospitals. 

    If not her ward, at least the community would be better served if the gentle alderwoman took a bit more time to seek more knowledge to gain more understanding and perhaps greater compassion. 

    I feel sorry for the family publicly humiliated by her.  No wonder others are terrified of coming forward.  To make amends – she should sit down with the board of directors – all community volunteers – and share her views and hear theirs.  I think they’d welcome the chance to exchange views. 

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