After his Department of Family and Support Services commissioner suggested that homeless people take taxis to shelters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing an ordinance that would provide $200,000 toward emergency services between midnight and 8 a.m. The funds would fill a gap left by a $2.3 million state funding cut that eliminated late-night rides for street people.
“Keeping Chicagoans safe during the challenging winter months is a priority,” Emanuel said. “By providing additional funds to fill this service gap we will be able to offer critical transportation to shelter and ensure those most vulnerable find refuge from the harsh temperatures.”
The funds would support two or three street teams providing overnight rides to one of the city’s 41 shelters, beginning on Nov. 15.
During a City Council budget hearing on Monday, DFSS Commissioner Evelyn Diaz was asked how the homeless were supposed to get to shelters overnight now that the state had cut out transportation dollars.
“Public transportation, cabs,” Diaz suggested.
The Sun-Times called it a Marie Antoinette moment, but it reminded us more of a Charles Dickens character.
Perhaps Ebenezer Scrooge. Asked for a donation to help the poor make it through the winter, he asked, “Are there no prisons?” and “And the union workhouses -- are they still in operation?” Or Mr. Bounderby, from Hard Times. When he thinks one of his employees is about to ask for a raise, he says, “You don’t expect to be set up in a coach and six, and to be fed on turtle soup and venison, with a gold spoon, as a good many of 'em do!”
The homeless won’t be driven to a shelter in a coach and six this winter, but at least they won’t have to hail a cab.