Ald. Devon Reid (8th) will seek committee support Monday to spend $1.75 million more in city funds on programs for the homeless.

The measure is described as a response to homeless encampments springing up on Howard Street and in downtown Evanston.

But a memo from Connections for the Homeless, which would receive more than 70% of the proposed funding, indicates that it would mostly go to replace pandemic-era federal funding for aid to the homeless that is now running out.

Reid had several months of back rent paid for by Connections last year, before he ultimately was evicted for nonpayment of rent.

Connections had $14.5 million in expenses for its fiscal year that ended in June 2022, spending roughly $500,000 more than it took in from contributions and grants.

Connections grew dramatically during the pandemic. In its fiscal year ending in June 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, it spent just $4.8 million.

The bulk of the proposed new city funding to Connections would go to pay the organization’s staff.

Reid’s funding package also included $200,000 for Evanston/Skokie School District 65 to aid students whose families are facing homelessness and $300,000 for the city’s Health and Human Services Department.

Health Director Ike Ogbo says the funding to his department would enhance current programs and create “a flexible funding model to proactively address a broad spectrum of homelessness prevention necessities.”

Reid proposes funding the programs this year from the city’s general fund reserve.

The proposal does not address what funding might be required to continue providing the services in future years.

Nor does it set any targets for actually reducing the number of homeless people living on Evanston’s streets.

The Human Services Committee meeting at which the proposal will be discussed is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday in the council chambers at the Civic Center.

If the committee votes in favor of the plan, it will then go to the full City Council for action, which potentially could come at the council’s Aug. 28 meeting.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Hard no.

    First, some definitions. These people may be homeless but the larger problem is that they are addicts, mentally ill, criminals or professional grifters.

    Second, let’s have a strategy that works shall we? The more you spend on the “homeless” the more “homeless” you will have. Just look at what San Fransisco’s open wallet has done or, more closer to home, look at what has happened to Davis Street near the Margarita Inn. The pictures and video from Davis Street are all over Twitter —

    Don’t give Betty Bogg another dime of Evanston’s money. She and her organization are rotting Evanston. She doesn’t even live here. Many of our city staff don’t live here. Our city manager doesn’t live here. Our mayor lives closer to downtown Wilmette than downtown Evanston.

    Devon Reid took $$$ from CFH and now he is giving it back to them at 1000x. This use to be called “payola “ now I suppose it’s just politics as usual in the declining city of Evanston.

    Where’s our mayor? Where’s our city manager? Has common sense abandoned Evanston?

    1. Paul,

      To your point:

      Most if not all, of the people supporting importing the homeless don’t live anywhere close to the Margarita, other shelters, or even in Evanston.

      I am all for supporting Evanston’s homeless but we just do not have the money and resources to support those from other cities. One more time: we just don’t have the money and resources, and I don’t care how many signs are put up or t-shirts are worn.

      If that is the desire of our elected officials, then we will need to sacrifice some things like rebuilding the police and fire center, city hall, and remediating our lead water pipe infrastructure, for example.

      Whatever the strategy, there must BE a strategy otherwise we are just foolishly flailing about hoping for another big payout from the federal government.

  2. “ The proposal does not address what funding might be required to continue providing the services in future years.

    Nor does it set any targets for actually reducing the number of homeless people living on Evanston’s streets.”

    Why are we even considering this black hole money pit of a proposal?

  3. Is Evanston becoming a magnet for homeless? What is our “fair share” of housing the homeless population?

  4. How does Mr Reid come up with $1.75 million to help combat homelessness? If he really was serious he should go for at least double that. If the homeless population is growing and it certainly seems to be judging by the latest encampments then much more money will be needed We shouldn’t come up short. The influx of new arrivals will of course need increased staff. ( apologies for the sarcasm)

  5. An unusual idea –

    Mr. Reid should get a job, pay his own rent, and then decide how much out of his own pocket he wants to give to support Connections, especially when they were so good in supporting him in tough times, rather than give 7 figures of tax dollars away when there is a long list of City needs that must be met which aren’t being handled.

  6. How about we put that $1.75M towards our schools/teachers/facilities – that’s more important than the homeless. Yes, I said it.


  7. That’s the go to threat from Alderperson Nieuwsma. Well, despite Connections’ failed attempt at “solving homelessness” by trying to operate Margarita Inn as a homeless shelter, we still have a growing issue with these encampments, aka tent cities.

    And regarding this obscene proposal from Reid, who continues to unethically pander FOR Connections since they paid his past due rent, there is nothing here that solves the problem. No solution for those refusing to comply with rules and guard rails aiming to help someone get housed, sober, or mental health support.

    Most important though, is that our tax dollars are supporting ANYONE seeking our social services in Evanston, and most are not from Evanston and their only reason for coming here is to feed off of our blind, generous, and poorly managed social services.

    Let me emphasize, most to all of these people living on our streets are NOT from Evanston. Just ask them as I do. Yep, we are a magnet. And an IL ID with 2121 Dewey only means they are a Connections client, not that they are from Evanston.

    Wake up people, WE are funding all of Cook County’s and beyond “homeless problem”. Throwing money at it, like spit balls, will not solve the problem.

    Let’s learn from other cities’ mistakes and focus on successfully helping our own Evanston residents facing crisis.

  8. I’m sorry, but on what planet is ethical for a private business like Connections to pay back rent for a politician. That’s the definition of conflict of interest.

    1. Jerry

      You would think it’s a conflict. Many people lodged a complaint claiming conflict (18 I believe) and it was deemed a non conflict. I agree with you however.

      1. Yes, Don, I filed ethics complaints against both Reid and Revelle (she and her husband have donated many thousands over the years to Connections), and in reply my complaints were found to be “baseless”…

        Gregory Morrow – Evanston 4th Ward resident

  9. While many believe that Reid’s politics may be abhorrent other people see this as social justice. Evanstonians thrive on these issues. However, I am struck by his desire to maintain anonymity with respect to many of the his own real estate concerns.

  10. How is it that Evanston taxpayers are the only ones that are on the hook for solving Cook county’s homeless problem? Evanston is going to look exactly like Portland soon.

    1. Exactly 8th. Reid justifies his proposals by claiming that they are needed to achieve parity with Chicago. Well, on the homeless issue, we far outspend Chicago on any basis–per capita, per sq. mile, you name the metric.

    2. Hell no! More money is not the answer. Take a look at Boggs’ LinkedIn page where she boasts about the outrageous amount of funding CCH received during her reign. The outcome? Not an improvement in the least. Evanston cannot FIX the problem and our community should not be a dumping ground for CCH failures. In addition, Albany Care also invites profoundly mental ill people to Evanston then fails to properly care for them. When the subjects are a “poor fit” for their system , they simply “sign them out” and release them into our community without support or the medication they need. In my opinion both these agencies are a cancer in our city.

      1. The best way to “solve homelessness” in Evanston would be to get Connections entirely *out* of Evanston, as their presence here only *greatly* increases the problem…

        At most, their services should be strictly limited to assisting with funding for eviction prevention. No shelters and no “services” for the homeless, as these only attract the undesirables that are destroying our Evanston quality of life…

        Gregory Morrow – Evanston 4th Ward resident, Margarita Inn “neighbor”, and former Connections for the Homeless employee

  11. When I bought a place in Evanston, I had no idea it was soon to become a Skid Row. I saw it as a more civilized version of Chicago, with lots of cultural things going on, the home of a great University, interesting shopping and restaurants, much beautiful architecture, music and theater, parks and the lakefront. Its public transportation is also a plus. It costs more to be here with these advantages.

    Now it seems like we’re under seige from armies of junkies, drunks and mental cases who are taking over the streets, the parks, and public venues like libraries. They’re turning once attractive neighborhoods into trash heaps and open sewers. We keep hearing developers trying to sell us on more population density to revive downtown. What really could revive downtown is to get rid of the homeless so normal people feel safe walking downtown, and doing business there. I used to take walks by myself in the evening, and feel safe doing it. Now I won’t. I do much less busines downtown now because it’s safer and more pleasant to drive elsewhere. I am leery of walking alone even in the daytime now. And I’m the kind of person downtown needs–a paying customer who doesn’t trash things or rob people.

    Connections is drawing lots of disheveled junkies and mental cases here, without rehabilitating or controlling them. They’re just roaming the streets trying to get drug money off of us, assault people, and ruin everything they touch. I don’t want to help them, I just want them gone. Reid’s suggested $1.75M would better go to the police. I cannot understand why they are allowed to trespass everywhere with their tents and heaps of trash, and nobody runs them off. Some are armed. Do we all need to get armed, too, to walk the streets? I cannot understand such a stupid public response to something that needs to be ended instead of encouraged and expanded.

    Maybe some in our local government are being paid to run Evanston into the ground enough so developers can pick up properties cheaply. Once they buy up a lot of property, the developers will have no qualms about running the homeless out so their investments will prosper.

    1. None of us could have seen the course that the City has chosen to turn downtown into a sewer. But this where we are ….

    2. My sentiments exactly. I chose Evanston because I had easy, safe access to amenities even though I had to pay a premium for it. I could live in another unsafe neighborhood for much less.

  12. Stop connection for homeless from soliciting homeless people from chicago to evanston.
    The more they spend on homeless the more problem it will cause. They will come to town looking for help.

  13. Evanston needs to stop allowing CFH to monopolize the City and and get all the federal and local grants.
    If Evanston truly believes we need more junkies coming in and tax paying people moving out – then open it up for competitive bidding process that is not steered towards CFH. Let other organizations bring what they can to the table. Evanston council is flirting with lots of issues by steering federal dollars towards one not for profit.
    So slow down Evanston and do something right. Evanston is no longer vibrant or attractive for people people putting kids in the schools, or anyone that doesn’t want to be part of the virtue signaling tribe. I moved last month. But still pay ridiculous taxes.

  14. Un(der)employed Reid would have been homeless if it wasn’t for connections – He’s paying them back. Corruption is clear as day but ignored because helping the homeless is seen as a kind act by the do-gooders. Providing basic services and a safe community for hardworking, law-abiding Evanston residents is no longer a priority of this city council and its mayor.

  15. Councilman Reid had several months of back rent paid for by Connections last year, before he ultimately was evicted for nonpayment of rent. So, is Reid trying to pay back Connections for their intervention into his lack of paying $9000.00 in back rent. Also the bulk of the money is to pay for the staff’s salaries (come on now), he also wants to lift the park restrictions to allow homeless camp sites to appear there as well. Having the homeless camp sites removed from Howard Street to be reestablished deeper into the Evanston community.This type of policy will do much harm to the Evanston community, just like his opening the beaches up to everyone outside of Evanston to have free admission, and his topless beach idea.
    Connections DO NOT need more money from the City, all this will accomplish is a creative dependency to ask for more and more later down the road. Give the organization fish the first time, and then a fishing poll and teach them to catch their own fish in the future!!

    1. When are people going to take a hint that this “fund the homelessness” schtik is a big giant grift?

      And your alderman is clearly in on it. The grift is real.

      See Portland and San Francisco for your future if this persists

  16. Do council members and their constituents really believe that Evanston has that large a population who suffer from serious mental health issues and addictions that prevent them from holding down a job? Serious mental health issues and addictions will NOT be “ solved/fixed” by providing a roof over anyone’s head. For that example we have Albany Care and Greenwood Care. They don’t solve/fix anyone

  17. Yes, homelessness is a problem. But so is a business district that has many empty stores, office buildings with empty floors, and a tax base that is increasingly frustrated with the deteriorating quality of life here. We are losing police, school administators, and other essential people at an alarming rate, and rather than funds to attract and keep top people, we’re going to give it to Connections for their staff?? Insanity.

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