On November 12, 2018 Evanston nonprofit leaders called on the City Council to restore funding for the Mental Health Board. This comes after news that the Mental Health Board was set to receive as much as a $250,000 cut starting this year.
While the outcry from the community coalesced on Monday night at a City Council Meeting, agencies that rely on Mental Health Board funding have been vocalizing concerns for months. In May groups like Impact, Connections for the Homeless, and Peer Services all took to social media to ask Evanston Community Members to fill out Priority Based Budgeting Surveys.
The survey results found that mental health was a top priority for Evanston residents; however, regardless of the results, major cuts of $250,000 to the Mental Health Board continued to move forward.
As a result, Patrick Keenan Devlin, Executive Director of the James B. Moran Center Advocacy Center, led an effort to unite benefitting agencies as advocates against the funding cuts. He brought together 15 agencies to sign a letter urging the city to reject any funding cuts to the Mental Health Board.
The letter (linked below), signed by the agencies’ Staff and Board Leadership, cites the collaboration in the Evanston area and the priorities of the city’s residents.
“Collectively, we provide critical services that protect and promote the mental health and welfare of vulnerable children, youth, families, and seniors. Our impact is valued by the entire community. As reflected in the 2019 Priority-Based Budgeting Resident Survey, residents prioritized funding for the Mental Health Board over all other city services. The cut to the Mental Health Board is not only harmful to our residents, but also is not reflective of our community’s values, priorities, and commitment to equity.
In addition to the formal letter many advocates attended the November 12th City Council Meeting where Mental Health Board funding was up for discussion. When asked about the meeting, Impact CEO, Patti Capouch said, “The residents of Evanston understand the importance of funding for mental health services in the City and understand how our agencies are the safety net for our more vulnerable and marginalized citizens. During public comment it has been clear that City residents want a voice in the budget process and it is my hope the City Council members listen to us as we advocate to restore whole funding to the mental health board.”
Right now, it looks like the groups collaborative efforts are working. The City Manager changed his recommendation to restore $100,000 to the Mental Health Board's funding, representing now a $150,000 cut instead of a $250,000 cut. Despite the good news, agencies have no plans of quieting down and it seems they still have a ways to go in their fight for funding.
Agencies who have signed the letter: