Bring back Human Services office
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Dear Gov. Pritzker:

We applaud your commitment to “mend broken places” and to revive the state’s moral commitment to meeting human needs. As leaders of community, faith-based, civil rights, and labor groups, we embrace the principle that our society’s moral compass may be identified by how we treat our most vulnerable neighbors.

Among the many broken systems that reduce access to public services (e.g. Medicaid, SNAP, disability services) is the closure of the north lakefront service office of the IL Dept. of Human Services (DHS). Removal of this service office creates a form of “service desert.” Poor and vulnerable persons deserve accessible services in the communities where the services are needed.

We call upon you to re-open a fully staffed north lakefront DHS office - in a decent and properly accessible facility free from health and safety problems – by the end of 2019.

For years before the “Uptown” site on north Broadway was closed, local unions of DHS workers and community groups had been objecting to closures of DHS local offices. Apart from problems with the actual facilities (e.g. poor accessibility, unhealthy physical conditions, inadequate facilities) the closure/consolidation process brought slight cost savings, but added significant impediment to accessing basic human services for at-risk people of Illinois.

With record economic inequality and lack of jobs from the very uneven recovery, Illinois should expand and improve access to services, not close and contract. For people with disabilities, poor families, seniors, immigrants, and more, the transfer of this office across town adds yet another barrier to access to the vital public services. In addition to this new “local” DHS office being far away, with less public transit access, the removal from a racially and economically diverse community to a largely white area has a disparate impact on people of color.

We urge you to restore a proper Human Services center to our community by the end of 2019.

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