9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale called for the repeal of new lease agreements with Cook County unless he saw results from new behavioral health initiatives from police within one year.
“I have a very strong feeling on mental health when it comes to my community because we do have huge problems,” Beale said. “I really want to see some heavy results after one year… I no longer want to give these leases out and have organizations get these resources and we don’t see the results in the community.”
There were two leases on the agenda, both with County entities. One is a $1 lease for a 10,000 sq ft space at the City’s Roseland Clinic. The Cook County Health and Hospitals System (CCHHS) intends to convert that space into a community triage center “to provide early intervention services for individuals who are at risk of detention or hospitalization due to behavioral health conditions,” according to a release.
Instead of booking the mentally ill in jail or dropping them off in emergency rooms, police could take people to the triage center. The new center would open later this year with the hopes of diverting hundreds of people from local ERs and the Cook County Jail in the first year, ultimately saving money. If the pilot at the Roseland clinic is successful, CCHHS plans to expand the triage model to five other sites. The Cook County Board has already approved the lease.
The other lease agreement, with the Cook County Department of Corrections would allow use of the West Town Neighborhood Health Center “for the provision of mental health services to ex-offenders.” The 10-year, $1 lease is for about 750 square feet of clinical office space for outpatient treatment, including counseling services, and links to psychiatric and medical care. The goal, a county official told aldermen, is to minimize ex-offenders’ chances of coming back into the Cook County Jail because of their mental illness.
Both of those leases and 25 other items passed the committee unanimously.
Committee Chairman Joe Moore and Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36) also told Aldertrack that a previously-held $29 million land sale to the Chicago Blackhawks and Rush University Medical Center will also proceed to the full City Council Wednesday. The land sale didn’t make it to the floor after committee last month, because two freshman aldermen–Villegas and Ald. Raymond Lopez (15)–threatened to use parliamentary procedure to block the item from a vote. The two wanted answers about City Colleges’ minority staffing and procurement.
Ald. Villegas, Lopez, and Ald. George Cardenas (12) met with representatives from the Mayor’s office and City Colleges Chancellor Cheryl Hyman to discuss breaking out minority hiring statistics by ethnicity and solving the “mystery how they select architects and engineering firms” to ensure City Colleges are relaying their information “to the M/WBE communities,” Villegas told Aldertrack.