WBEZ | social services http://www.wbez.org/tags/social-services Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago warming centers: The options and the limits http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-warming-centers-options-and-limits-109470 <p><p><em>Editor&rsquo;s note: Our first answer to this question was put together while the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services was inundated with media and service requests concerning the frigid temperatures that arrived Sunday, Jan. 5. Spokesman Matt Smith was gracious enough to follow through with a comprehensive interview the following day. The current story reflects those comments and clarifications.</em></p><p>Caitlin Castelaz doesn&rsquo;t live in Chicago anymore, but that didn&rsquo;t stop her from watching news about <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/below-zero-temps-push-midwest-northeast-109464" target="_blank">the &ldquo;polar vortex&rdquo; that arrived in our region</a>. And, she said, she welled up with concern as her social media feeds filled with troubling updates and warnings. The former Rogers Park native thought about a fellow she used to pass frequently.</p><p>&ldquo;This guy &mdash; he was basically my neighbor,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;He lives under the train tracks for the El. I&rsquo;m thinking, Where&rsquo;s he gonna go? I&rsquo;m hoping he&rsquo;s got connections to go somewhere.&rdquo;</p><p>So Caitlin hopped on <a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/" target="_blank">our website</a> from her cozy New York apartment and asked us:</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>What are the capacities and limitations of city shelters during the cold months? How can Chicagoans help out?</em></p><p>As we and Caitlin prepped for this story, we thought we should expand the meaning of &ldquo;city shelters&rdquo; and, after a little digging, we were glad we did. The homeless are particularly vulnerable to the cold temps, but the city of Chicago understands that others sometimes need help, too. The city offers warming centers to anyone on the wrong side of a cold snap; one important caveat, though, is that the city offers safety during the cold, but not necessarily comfort.</p><p><strong>Capacity</strong></p><p>3,000. That&rsquo;s the number of beds Matt Smith from the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) said the city has available to those who need a safe, warm spot to sleep overnight during emergencies. Smith said that figure comprises approximately 600-700 beds in the shelter system. The rest serve as interim housing.</p><p dir="ltr">According to Smith, the system has not reached capacity since our sub-zero stretch hit Sunday, Jan. 5. (Smith estimates that 96 percent of beds were filled the evening of Monday, Jan. 6.) He said the city could add emergency bedding for an additional 500-600 people if needed.</p><p dir="ltr">Both Smith and the <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/oem.html" target="_blank">Office of Emergency Management and Communications</a> assured residents that no one who needs help will be turned away.</p><p dir="ltr">But the City of Chicago is not the only one providing emergency places to stay warm and sleep. Private organizations and nonprofits also offer spots to stay warm and sleep.</p><p>Kristine Kappel, who coordinates shelter services for Catholic Charities, wrote that as of Monday afternoon, &ldquo;At Catholic Charities in Cook and Lake Counties we have 287 shelter beds available and are at full capacity.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago operates a dozen <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fss/provdrs/serv/svcs/dfss_warming_centers.html" target="_blank">warming centers</a> throughout the city, many of which are offices or centers run by the Department of Family Support and Services. Notably, only the Garfield Center at 10 S. Kedzie Ave. offers overnight accommodations. Smith said that between Sunday, Jan. 5 and the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 7, approximately 1,500 people had used the city warming centers.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/caitlin-1.jpg" style="height: 233px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Caitlin Castelaz feels we can better protect people by knowing more about how social and other services operate during emergencies, including cold snaps. (Courtesy of Facebook)" /></p><p>Anyone who needs a spot to beat the cold can also go to <a href="http://www.ccc.edu/" target="_blank">City Colleges</a>, <a href="https://www.chipublib.org/" target="_blank">public libraries</a> and <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/oemc/general/PDF/Cold_Weather_Shelters_Map.pdf" target="_blank">police and fire stations across the city</a>. According to officer Marty Ridge, who works out of the 14th District station in Logan Square, these are meant to be places to warm up and beat the elements for a short time; there&rsquo;s no food or drink served. Police can coordinate a ride to a longer term solution &mdash; be that a warming center or a shelter.</p><p><strong>Limitations</strong></p><p>Aside from the Kedzie location, the warming centers offer limited hours, though the city has <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/fss/supp_info/CommunityCenters/WarmingCenterFlyers/010214WCenterFlyerExtendedHours.pdf" target="_blank">extended centers&rsquo; operations</a> during the current bout of dangerously low temperatures and high winds. Some city warming sites are open only to seniors.</p><p>Smith said that during non-emergency situations, there&rsquo;s a gap between when warming centers close and shelters open, leaving people with a few hours to kill before a warm space opens up.</p><p>&ldquo;By extending those hours, they can leave a warming center at 8pm and go right to a shelter,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Or if they&rsquo;re in the shelter system &nbsp;they can stay to just wait it out.&rdquo;</p><p>Half of the city&rsquo;s warming centers are for seniors, and those offer hot beverages and food year round, but the other six sites don&rsquo;t. That limitation means some people who do find relief from the cold must eventually head back into once they get hungry.</p><p>Several WBEZ reporters were turned away from reporting from inside warming sites, but West Side Bureau Reporter Chip Mitchell interviewed Jerome Williams, who spent Sunday evening at the Garfield Center. Williams reported that the bathrooms were in terrible shape.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s urine all over the floor. There&rsquo;s no door, and it&rsquo;s not cleaned right,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not nice for the kids to be in there. No door on the stall. None whatsoever. They say there&rsquo;s work going on it. They said that a couple of weeks ago.&rdquo;</p><p>Concerning this complaint, Smith said the warming centers are &ldquo;not luxurious&rdquo; and meant to simply keep people out of harm&rsquo;s way. &ldquo;Given the fact that people are sometimes in emergency situations, maybe someone will have an accident and they may not smell fresh. The point is it&rsquo;s an alternative to someone being out in the deadly cold, and it is deadly cold.&quot;</p><p><em>(Update: On Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 7 we received a message from 28th Ward Alderman Jason C. Ervin&#39;s office stating they reached out to&nbsp;Fleet and Facilities Management and the bathroom stall door situation &quot;... is being fixed as of this point.&quot;)</em></p><p>Another limitation of the shelter system is outreach. While the city and other agencies attempt to direct residents in need to available resources or shelters, those residents sometimes do not accept the offers. Officer Marty Ridge said it can be an issue of trust; some have had negative experiences at a shelter or they&rsquo;re reluctant to leave all of their belongings behind. Shelters won&rsquo;t necessarily hold someone&rsquo;s shopping cart full of belongings.</p><p>The city attempts to educate people living on the streets about available resources. Smith said the city collaborates with various agencies to step up that outreach ahead of and in times of extreme cold or heat.</p><p>&ldquo;We can&rsquo;t force someone to come in off the street, but we&rsquo;ll certainly try to assist them and work with them to get them to the point where they will accept our services,&rdquo; Smith said.</p><p><strong>So, what can Chicagoans do to help?</strong></p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><strong>Check on your neighbors, family and friends.</strong> This is especially the case with the elderly and those with disabilities. Make sure they have enough food, medication and any other necessary supplies, such as batteries or backup power. If you think someone in Chicago may need assistance you can&rsquo;t provide (e.g., a warm meal or a ride to a Chicago warming center) call 311.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><strong>Shovel sidewalks and curb ramps.</strong> It&rsquo;s common sense, but the longer someone takes to trudge from point A to point B, the longer they&rsquo;re exposed the elements and the danger from it. When you clear sidewalks and curb ramps, you help everyone get around more quickly and safely, especially those who use mobility devices such as wheelchairs. When sidewalks are deep with snow or ice, people sometimes resort to walking in the street, which presents additional dangers.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><strong>Donate warm clothing to local charities.</strong> It&rsquo;s never too late to donate new or used blankets, coats, gloves, snowpants and other cold weather gear. The Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and clothing donation bins accept clean items in good repair, year round.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><strong>Slow down, look around, be helpful.</strong> Whether you&rsquo;re driving, biking, walking or gazing out the window at the person trying to dig their car out of a snowbank, it never hurts to use that niceness that Midwesterners are known for and lend a hand. &nbsp;</p></li></ul><p><strong>Resources for getting help or helping others</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/311.html" target="_blank">311</a>: Call 311 for all requests for assistance within Chicago. The city can offer or otherwise coordinate wellness checks on you, your neighbors, friends or family. You can also learn about transportation options to warming centers. (In an emergency, of course dial 911.)</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fss/provdrs/serv/svcs/dfss_warming_centers.html" target="_blank">Warming Centers</a>: The Department of Family Support and Services offers a dozen warming centers around Chicago, some specifically for seniors. During the cold snap in early January, the agency <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fss/provdrs/serv/alerts/2014/jan/extended-hours-for-community-service-center-patrons.html" target="_blank">extended hours</a> at many centers.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/oemc/general/PDF/Cold_Weather_Shelters_Map.pdf" target="_blank">Cold Weather Shelters:</a> The city allows anyone seeking refuge from the cold to go to their closest police or fire station to stay warm. Capacity varies at each building, and oftentimes workers there will help connect people to a shelter or a warming center if needed.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/snowportal/chicagoshovels.html" target="_blank">Chicago Shovels</a>: This site, run by the city of Chicago, tracks snowplows, allows you to lend a hand to those who need assistance shoveling snow, and offers other apps for winter preparedness.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="https://webapps1.cityofchicago.org/volunteerregistry/" target="_blank">Emergency Assistance Registry for People with Disabilities or Special Needs</a>: This registry allows Chicagoans with disabilities or other special needs to voluntarily identify themselves as requiring assistance during emergencies. For example, the form notifies first responders that a resident relies on specific medical devices or can&rsquo;t communicate verbally.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.ready.gov/individuals-access-functional-needs" target="_blank">FEMA disaster preparedness for people with disabilities</a>: The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides a helpful kit to prepare for dangerous weather situations.</p><p>As for what the city and others agencies might do if another bout of extreme cold comes our way, Smith said &ldquo;All of Chicago&rsquo;s cold weather emergency plans are a process of evolution.&rdquo; He said changes come from experience (like he blizzard of 2011 prompting <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/new-escape-routes-lake-shore-drive-93621" target="_blank">new turnarounds</a> on Lake Shore Drive), and his department will be reviewing how the city handled this particular emergency and adapt their strategy if necessary. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Curious City tweets <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZCuriousCity" target="_blank">@WBEZCuriousCity</a></em></p></p> Mon, 06 Jan 2014 18:06:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/chicago-warming-centers-options-and-limits-109470 Tracking the sequester’s impact on Illinois' poor and working class http://www.wbez.org/news/tracking-sequester%E2%80%99s-impact-illinois-poor-and-working-class-106784 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" div="" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/throughwaters/" http:="" photos="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/afford.jpg" throughwaters="" title="(Flickr/ ThroughWaters)" www.flickr.com="" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F89353742&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong>Sequester causes longer waits for low-income housing</strong></p><p>Sheryl Sieling is the Director of the Housing Choice Voucher Program at Cook County Housing Authority, a program provides rental assistance for low income families in Cook County suburbs.</p><p>The program doesn&rsquo;t have enough resources to provide rental assistance to everyone who qualifies. So they keep a waiting list. But since the sequester, very few people are getting taken off that waiting list and put into housing.</p><p>When Seiling hears people talk about the sequester, they are usually most worried about longer waits at airports. But she says that doesn&rsquo;t compare to the wait her clients have had.</p><p>&ldquo;Everyone who is on the waiting list right now has been waiting since 2001,&rdquo; said Seiling.</p><p>Sieling said in lieu of assistance, clients live with family or in substandard housing. She mentioned one woman who has three kids and has bounced from one homeless shelter to another.</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t imagine how they function. I can&rsquo;t imagine the stress,&rdquo; said Seiling.</p><p>She said when families want to check on their status, there is really only one thing she can tell them: &ldquo;We have to just keep waiting,&rdquo; she said.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F89193988&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>U.S. airports are now seeing <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/flight-delays-pile-monday-after-faa-budget-cuts-106780">furlough days</a> because of the sequester. But some social service agencies felt the pinch weeks ago.</p><p dir="ltr">Over the next few days WBEZ will bring you portraits of how poor and working class people, and the agencies that serve them, are being impacted by the government spending cuts.</p><h2 dir="ltr"><strong>Penny pinching at the Public Defender&#39;s office</strong></h2><p dir="ltr">When I first reached Jonathan Hawley, he was driving around trying to find a backup battery because his office&rsquo;s old one died. Picking up computer batteries is not normally part of the job for the Chief Federal Public Defender for the Central district Illinois. But because of the sequester, Hawley had to layoff three people, including his computer specialist.</p><p>Another problem: The computer battery cost $500.</p><p>&ldquo;We have nothing budgeted for unexpected expenses,&rdquo; said Hawley.&nbsp; &ldquo;So whether it be a computer breaking down, a chair breaking. Any penny we spend that we cannot currently predict, has to come out of the pay of the employees here.&rdquo;<br />Eventually Hawley found an extra battery at another office.</p><p>He said for now, his public defenders office is actually lucky. They have 10 planned furlough days compared to some other public defenders offices, that have as much as 30. But he said if an expensive case came in the door, where had to pay for an expert or cover travel, his office could easily end up in the same situation.</p><p>&ldquo;Which is sort of self defeating,&rdquo; said Hawley. &ldquo;You get a case that needs extraordinary resources, the only way to do that is to reduce your staff, which is one of your key resources.&rdquo;</p><p>Hawley said when a public defender takes furlough days the entire court system slows down. He also said the U.S. Attorney&rsquo;s office, the people who he goes up against in court every day, don&rsquo;t have any furlough days scheduled.</p><p>&ldquo;If you are talking about a level playing field, it doesn&rsquo;t sound very level,&rdquo; said Hawley.</p><p>Without a capable public defenders office, Hawley said the court will be forced to pass the cases to court assigned private attorneys, which he said could cost taxpayers more in the long run.&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F89052536&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><h2 dir="ltr"><strong>Cuts to Senior Services</strong></h2><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Seniors%20and%20Sequester_130423_sh.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Henry County Senior Center says the sequester cuts will hurt both its workers and the people it serves. (Flickr/Rosie O'Beirne)" />Casandra Schmoll is the executive director of the Henry County Senior Center in Western Illinois, near the Iowa border.</p><p dir="ltr">When she first got the news that the sequester meant she&rsquo;d have to cut 9 percent of her budget she sat down with a big spreadsheet and tried to figure out what cut would be the least painful.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They told me to go from the least important person to the most important person,&rdquo; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">In terms of day to day services, she decided she was the least important. &nbsp;She gave herself furlough days. But that wasn&rsquo;t enough.<br /><br />Her employees make minimum wage, living paycheck to paycheck. Cuts in hours would be hard for them. Not to mention the seniors who depend on them everyday.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It was the toughest &nbsp;decision I have ever made in my entire life,&rdquo; Schmoll said.</p><p dir="ltr">In the end, she decided to cut back their senior transportation services. Before the sequester transportation services ended at 3 p.m., now they end at 1 p.m. That means fewer seniors getting rides to doctor appointments and grocery stores.</p><p dir="ltr">They&rsquo;ve also cut back on Friday meal delivery. In two of the towns they serve, the senior center will skip delivering meals every other Friday.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Some people, that&rsquo;s the only hot meal they&rsquo;ll get till Monday again,&rdquo; she said. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">As difficult as the cuts have been, Schmoll says it&rsquo;s given her a chance to see some real kindness. Neighbors help deliver meals and some drivers transport seniors beyond the time they&rsquo;re being paid.</p><p dir="ltr">But what has touched Schmoll the most is the older women who have been donating an extra dollar, despite their own tough financial situation, for the meals they eat.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a> and share signs of the sequester in your community.</em></p></p> Mon, 22 Apr 2013 16:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/tracking-sequester%E2%80%99s-impact-illinois-poor-and-working-class-106784 Rustbelt city wants immigrants, skilled or not http://www.wbez.org/content/rustbelt-city-wants-immigrants-skilled-or-not-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-30/2.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/3.JPG" style="width: 605px; height: 404px;" title="Deserted houses like this one mar Dayton’s East End. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)"></p><p style="text-align: left;">Lifelong Dayton resident Monica Schultz, 36, brings me to the East End block where she grew up. “This whole street was full of families,” she says. “Kids were running around playing, all within my age range.”</p><p style="text-align: left;">Now no kids are in sight.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Schultz points to a half dozen abandoned houses, including one right next door to her family’s place. She says the city has boarded it up a few times but stray cats keep finding their way in.</p><p style="text-align: left;">“We had a flea infestation problem,” she tells me. “People walking by could see the fleas or feel the fleas or get the fleas. All of the yards in the neighborhood here were becoming infested with fleas.”</p><p style="text-align: left;">Schultz says the city can’t keep up with houses like this. “It’s one of many that need to be bulldozed,” she says. “But it’s on a list.”</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted rgb(170, 33, 29); margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; }ul { margin-left: 15px; }li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/FC-logo-sm_0.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 38px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-28/great-lakes-workers-faring-better-canadian-side-border-94389">Workers faring better in Canada</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/using-sound-find-leaks-and-save-dollars-94303">Using sound to find leaks and save dollars</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/gas-drilling-could-take-air-out-offshore-wind-93875">Gas drilling could take air out of offshore wind</a></strong></li></ul></div><div class="inlineContent">&nbsp;</div></div><p>Dayton’s population has been shrinking since the 1960s. Most of the area’s factory jobs are long gone. To save the city, Schultz has embraced a new idea: Help immigrants and refugees lay roots in Dayton.</p><p>Schultz, who owns a small marketing firm, helped lead community meetings that generated a 72-point plan called “Welcome Dayton.” City commissioners approved the plan this fall. The points range from better immigrant access to social services, to more translations of court materials, to grants for immigrants to open shops in a dilapidated commercial corridor, to a soccer event that supporters envision as a local World Cup tournament.</p><p>Schultz tells me the plan could revive a Dayton entrepreneurial spirit that sparked inventions ranging from the cash register to the airplane. “You would have small businesses,” she says. “You would have coffee shops and you would have bakeries and you would have specialty grocery stores.”</p><p>Dayton is among several rustbelt cities suffering from population loss and brain drain. To create businesses and jobs, some communities are trying to attract immigrants, especially highly educated ones. Dayton stands out for the attention its plan pays to immigrants without wealth or skills.</p><p>The plan even addresses people without permission to be in the country. One provision calls for police officers to quit asking suspects about their immigration status unless the crime was “serious.” Another point could lead to a city identification card that would help residents do everything from open a bank account to buy a cell phone.</p><p>City Manager Tim Riordan, Dayton’s chief executive, says welcoming all types of immigrants will make the area more cosmopolitan. “I think there would be a vibrancy,” he says. “We’d start to have some international investment of companies deciding they ought to locate here.”</p><p>Foreign-born residents so far amount to 3 percent of the city’s 142,000 residents. For a mid-sized U.S. city these days, that’s not many.</p><p>But Dayton’s immigrants and refugees are increasing their numbers and, Riordan says, they’re already making a difference. He points to a neighborhood north of downtown where some Ahiska Turks have settled. “They were refugees in Russia," he says. "Here they’ve bought houses. They’ve fixed them up. And, sometimes when I talk to hardware store owners, people will come in and they’ll buy a window at a time. ‘I’ve got enough money to put in another window.’ It’s slow-but-sure change.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/2.JPG" style="margin: 4px 18px 2px 1px; float: left; width: 275px; height: 280px;" title="A Dayton pizza parlor run by Ahiska Turks adds life to a decaying neighborhood. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)"></p><p>Not everyone in Dayton is on board with the plan.</p><p>In a corner tavern on the East End, a 62-year-old bartender serves the only customer what she calls his last can of beer for the night. It’s a Friday, just 11 p.m., but she’s closing. “The owner can’t pay me to stay any longer,” she tells me, speaking on condition I don’t name her or the bar.</p><p>The bartender says the tavern could be on its last legs and tells me what happened to three other East End bars where she worked. They all shut down. She says that’s because many of the neighborhood’s Appalachian families, who arrived for manufacturing jobs after World War II, have moved away.</p><p>“NCR closed down, Dayton Tire and Rubber closed down, GM and Delphi and Frigidaire,” she says, pausing only when her customer slams down the beer and bellows something about a “last paycheck.”</p><p>The bartender tells me she doesn’t like how Riordan and other Dayton officials are handling the exodus of families who’ve been paying local taxes for generations. “Why won’t he try to keep those kinds of people here?” she asks. “He wants to welcome the immigrants to come in here. What can&nbsp;they&nbsp;do? Where are they going to get the money to fix up anything? What jobs are they going to get to maintain what they fix up here? There are no jobs here. None.”</p><p>It’s not just locals like the bartender who have doubts about “Welcome Dayton.”</p><p>Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington group that pushes for strict immigration controls, acknowledges that attracting immigrants would increase the size of Dayton’s economy. “But that’s different than arguing that there’s a benefit,” he says. “Growing an area’s gross domestic product, but not the <em>per capita</em> GDP, doesn’t mean anything. It wouldn’t be very helpful. In fact, there might be problems with that.”</p><p>Camarota says the low-skilled immigrants would put downward pressure on wages for workers on Dayton’s bottom rungs.</p><p>But Italian-born economist Giovanni Peri of the University of California, Davis, says low-skilled immigrants would bring what Dayton seeks—and more: “One, they will increase the variety of local restaurants, local shops. Second, they will provide a variety of local services, such as household services, care of the children, of the elderly. Third, they will also develop and bring an atmosphere of diversity and higher tolerance.” Peri says these low-skilled contributions would all help Dayton attract immigrants with more resources.</p><p>The willingness of many immigrants to perform manual labor for low pay, Peri adds, could create jobs for longtime residents. He points to landscaping companies: “They will need people who mow the lawn but also they will need accountants, salespersons, a manager and drivers.”</p><p>Dayton’s approach—welcoming immigrants with and without skills—is the “optimal strategy,” Peri says.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-01/4.JPG" style="margin: 4px 18px 2px 1px; float: left; width: 275px; height: 219px;" title="A Dayton church translates sermons to Spanish through headphones. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)">Whether a city’s immigrant-integration plan can actually attract many people is another question. About an hour east of Dayton, the city of Columbus launched an immigrant-friendly initiative in 2002 and saw its foreign-born population grow fast. But that city’s economy is much more robust than Dayton’s. It had already been attracting immigrants for years.</p><p>The results of “Welcome Dayton” could depend on how it works for city residents like a 25-year-old mother whom I’ll call Ana López. (She&nbsp;doesn’t have papers to be in the country so I agreed not to use her real name.) López says she came from the Mexican state of Puebla as a teenager at the urging of a friend who had arrived in Dayton earlier.</p><p>López says her first job was in a restaurant with a big buffet. “We didn’t come to take work away from anyone,” she tells me in Spanish. “Rather, there are jobs nobody else wants.”</p><p>Now López and her husband have three kids, all U.S. citizens. The family has managed to buy a house. And it’s found a congregation, College Hill Community Church, that provides simultaneous Spanish interpretation through headphones.</p><p>But Dayton hasn’t always been hospitable. López says police officers caught her brother-in-law driving without a license and turned him over to federal officials, who deported him.</p><p>Looking at the “Welcome Dayton” plan, López says providing the ID cards and removing the police from immigration enforcement could make a difference for families like hers. “These families would tell their friends and relatives to move to Dayton,” she says.</p><p>That’s exactly what city leaders want to hear.</p></p> Thu, 01 Dec 2011 11:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/rustbelt-city-wants-immigrants-skilled-or-not-0 Quinn avoids specifics about proposed social service cuts http://www.wbez.org/story/alcohol-rehab/quinn-avoids-specifics-about-proposed-social-service-cuts <p><p>Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn said cuts to state-funded drug and alcohol rehab centers won't be as deep as originally feared. Quinn's office had proposed major financial cuts to social services. But Quinn said the cuts aren't final yet.</p><p>&quot;It's a dialogue. It's an ongoing process. It's a day-to-day process,&quot;&nbsp;Quinn said. &quot;We want to make sure that we get through this fiscal year on to the next fiscal year.&quot;</p><p>Quinn wouldn't say just how deep this year's budget cuts will go.</p><p>The state has informed some addiction services their government funds will end March 15th. Advocates say the cuts would end services for 55,000 people and would mean layoffs for 5,000 workers.</p></p> Fri, 25 Feb 2011 10:52:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/alcohol-rehab/quinn-avoids-specifics-about-proposed-social-service-cuts State antiviolence effort raises eyebrows on West Side http://www.wbez.org/story/29th-ward/state-antiviolence-effort-raises-eyebrows-west-side <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/DeborahGraham.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Some community leaders on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side don&rsquo;t like the way Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn&rsquo;s administration is doling out funds in a $31 million program to combat Chicago-area youth violence. <br /><br />They wonder why aldermen are involved and why the pastor of Ald. Deborah Graham (29th) is getting the biggest grant in the city&rsquo;s Austin neighborhood.<br /><br />Quinn&rsquo;s office and a state agency called the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority are overseeing the program, called the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative. Barbara Shaw, the agency&rsquo;s director, says 205 community groups will receive funds to provide everything from jobs to mentoring and counseling.<br /><br />&ldquo;This is a very important program to provide a range of very important services that our young people need,&rdquo; Shaw says. &ldquo;Smaller agencies, larger agencies, the faith-based community&mdash;[we&rsquo;re] really trying to pull together the variety of organizations to be a part of being there for kids.&rdquo;<br /><br />The state&rsquo;s first step was choosing a lead agency last fall in each of 23 city neighborhoods and suburbs targeted for help.<br /><br />Here&rsquo;s the thorny part. Instead of putting out an open request for proposals, the state asked individual Chicago aldermen to recommend the lead agencies. Shaw says that saved time and will help get the services out faster.<br /><br />But an alderman&rsquo;s role in Chicago&rsquo;s Austin neighborhood has led to some stark accusations. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s business as usual,&rdquo; says Mary Russell Gardner, who&rsquo;s running in the 29th Ward aldermanic race. &ldquo;Award my friends that helped me, and Kibbles &rsquo;N Bits for everyone else.&rdquo;<br /><br />Gardner, who is trying to unseat Graham, is making hay about a $290,000 grant for youth mentoring&mdash;the biggest chunk of $1.2 million slated for Austin in the antiviolence program.<br /><br />The group selected for that grant, Kingdom Community, Inc., has close ties to Graham. It&rsquo;s run by her pastor, Rev. John Abercrombie of Truth and Deliverance International Ministries.<br /><br />Graham responds that her opponent is making a stink about nothing. The alderman recommended Circle Family HealthCare Network as Austin&rsquo;s lead agency. Graham insists it was Circle, not her, that chose Kingdom Community for the mentoring.<br /><br />&ldquo;I had no input on who the sub-agencies would be&mdash;none whatsoever,&rdquo; Graham says. &ldquo;I had no idea that they had been selected before the press release came out.&rdquo;<br /><br />Who chose Kingdom Community for the big grant? Andre Hines, Circle&rsquo;s chief executive officer, says the decision was made by a community committee her agency formed. That committee chose most of the Austin groups Circle will oversee in the state&rsquo;s antiviolence program.<br /><br />Hines isn&rsquo;t claiming Kingdom Community will do a better job on the mentoring than any other Austin group would have. &ldquo;The only thing we can do is look at who applied and select the best candidate based on those applications,&rdquo; she says, insisting the process was fair.<br /><br />Kingdom Community isn&rsquo;t the only antiviolence grant recipient in Austin that&rsquo;s raising eyebrows. Learning Network Center, a group chosen to help parents become community leaders, is led by Luther Syas, who circulated signature petitions to get Graham on the 29th Ward ballot.<br /><br />Hines says she had no idea Syas had any ties to the alderman.<br /><br />Austin resident Steven McCullough, who until last year led a large West Side social-service provider called Bethel New Life, says he takes Graham&rsquo;s word she didn&rsquo;t pull strings for either her pastor or the petition circulator. But McCullough says there&rsquo;s still a problem: &ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t look good.&rdquo;<br /><br />McCullough, now chief operating officer of a citywide group called the Safer Foundation, says the state has no business letting local politicians steer social-service contracts. &ldquo;What it can lead to is a situation where an organization is perceived to be favored over another organization that delivers similar services or even a higher quality of service,&rdquo; he says.<br /><br />McCullough says a transparent process would serve the public better.<br /><br />The ultimate losers, McCullough adds, may include Graham. If her pastor doesn&rsquo;t come through with excellent youth mentoring, he says, &ldquo;a lot of fingers will be pointing at her.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 11 Feb 2011 00:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/29th-ward/state-antiviolence-effort-raises-eyebrows-west-side