Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Let Them Get a Cab?!

Since I expressed my admiration for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's efforts to address the issue of food deserts in the Windy City, I guess its only fair to point to an apparent...shall we say problem, within his administration...

"The head of the city’s Department of Family and Support Services had a Marie Antoinette moment on Monday — when she suggested that homeless Chicagoans who need overnight transport this winter “take a cab” to emergency shelters."
"After testifying at City Council budget hearings, Commissioner Evelyn Diaz was discussing the $2.4 million, mid-year cut in state funding that forced Mayor Rahm Emanuel to lay off 24 city employees who worked the overnight shift picking up homeless residents and transporting them to shelters."


"Diaz was asked what would happen this winter without the overnight shift. How were homeless Chicagoans — many of them suffering from alcohol, substance abuse and mental health problems — supposed to get to emergency shelters overnight? Were they supposed to just hang tough until 8 a.m?"


"“If they can’t find another alternative,” she said."
"Asked to identify an alternative, Diaz said, “Public transportation, cabs.”"
"When a reporter reminded the commissioner that homeless people can’t afford cab fare, an apparently embarrassed Diaz ignored the question."
"Hours later, department spokeswoman Anne Sheahan attempted to explain away the commissioner’s statement.Sheahan said Diaz was referring to an expanded contract with the American Red Cross that, in the absence of overnight homeless services, provides families who lose their homes in a fire with a cab voucher to transport them to shelters."
"When reporters were questioning Diaz, there was never any mention of fire victims."
"The cab remark sounded a bit like Marie Antoinette’s notorious, “Let ‘em eat cake.”"

CitySquare's HOT (Homeless Outreach Team) does pretty much the same job. It's funded by the Central Business District of Dallas and designed to try and get the homeless off of downtown streets into shelters, housing and in a number of cases back home.

Fortunately, we've not had to tell anyone to take a cab...

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