Two aldermen target victim services grant

Karen Singer.

Evanston aldermen this week approved a $75,000 grant to the YWCA to provide six months of victim services programs -- but with opposition from two aldermen who object to shifting resources from similar city-staffed programs.

The contract will provide additional training for police, 24-hour crisis intervention services and two shelter beds for victims of domestic violence.

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, said she feared the new program would just duplicate services city staff already provide.

But Health Director Evonda Thomas-Smith said the city can't provide round the clock coverage with its own staff.

In addition, she said, city victim advocates now are often tied up in court, and YWCA staff can fill in at those times.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said the city would be paying the addiotnal money for "the same thing we're already getting" from the YWCA's existing domstic violence programs -- except for an additional shelter bed.

But Karen Singer, executive director of the Evanston/North Shore YWCA, said the agency would be hiring additional staff for the new grant program.

Reconfiguring the city's victim services programs proved a contentious issue during last year's budget debate.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said the city is continuing a review of its social services programs, and that he expects to ask the City Council for further direction about the future of those programs in June or July.

Bobkiewicz said the YWCA grant will help fill gaps until the review is complete.

Police Chied Demitrous Cook added that his officers needs to have the continuing training the YWCA can provide on how to best handle domestic violence incidents.

Rainey said she's concerned that in the end the move to seek outside providers won't supplement city programs, but instead will end up replacing them.

However Aldeman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, said the grant proposal was a good one.

Braithwaite and six other aldermen voted to approve it, while Rainey and Fleming voted to reject it.

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