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To City Manager Erika Storlie, Mayor Stephen Hagerty and Health and Human Services Director Ike Ogbo:
The Advocacy Committee of Interfaith Action of Evanston urges the City of Evanston to reconsider its plans to distribute vaccinations on the basis of age that lowers the priority for shelter workers and people in congregant settings. We feel this is both inequitable and dangerous. Older citizens who have housing can stay inside and isolate, while workers who are serving people who are homeless, and those receiving service, are risking their lives.
In our community people and workers in congregant settings include the following organizations:
- Interfaith Action of Evanston: 45 participants; 12 staff
- Connections for the Homeless: 280 participants; 68 staff
- Family Promise North Shore: 28 participants; 12 staff
- The McGaw YMCA : 156 residents; 244 staff
- The YWCA Evanston Northshore : 60 residents; 24 staff
This decision by the City’s Public Health Department is contrary to emerging best practices being defined by a new coalition of national partners who have released a new Framework for an Equitable COVID-19 Homelessness Response. The Framework’s top two recommendations for making use of public resources are:
- Advance racial justice and equity: Both homelessness and the pandemic shine a light on racial and economic inequities in our nation so new funds should help eliminate disparities in communities – not exacerbate them.
- Address the highest needs first. People who are unsheltered, older, disabled, medically fragile, literally homeless and extremely low income should be helped first. Start by addressing needs of people who are currently experiencing homelessness.
We urge the City’s Public Health Department to move these shelter organizations to top priority for receiving the COVID vaccine in Phase 1B. The so-called herd immunity will only be reached when we vaccinate those most in danger of contracting and dying from the virus.
Melissa Appelt, Ginny Ayers, Richard Cahan, Wynn Graham, and Toni Rey on behalf of the Advocacy Committee, Interfaith Action of Evanston