Evanston RoundTable
Diane Silverberg and her masked goose, wearing a “6′ Please” sign. Diane, who lives on Elmwood, changes her stone goose’s costume regularly. (RoundTable photo)

Good Morning, Evanston.

One silver lining in a year of loss has been the renewed commitment to ending homelessness in Evanston. Over the past 12 months, Connections for the Homeless has expanded its services significantly, doubling the housing program and helping more than 500 people move into permanent supportive housing units. The shift from overnight shelters to more stable housing provides the blueprint for ending homelessness in Evanston, according to Jennifer Kouba, Associate Director for Development at Connections.

But even with increased funding, challenges remain. Sue Loellbach, Manager of Advocacy at Connections, says that while Evanston has the resources and know-how to end homelessness, “there is definitely resistance to increasing density in the community.”

Mayor-elect Daniel Biss, addressing these barriers, said, “A comprehensive overhaul of the zoning code, based upon prioritization of the values of affordability and equity, will result in taking a hard look at a lot of different exclusionary rules on the books.”

“Minneapolis and Portland have eliminated single-family zoning,” notes Larry Donoghue, Chair of the Evanston Housing and Homelessness Commission.

Federal Stimulus Is Headed Our Way. Compared to 2020, this year will provide a much different – and preferable – challenge for the City’s budget, with $45.8 million in federal stimulus money heading Evanston’s way, and officials having to figure out where to spend it.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, City Manager Erika Storlie identified a number of areas for its use, telling Council members “the biggest eligible use of this funding is to cover revenue loss.”

Officials estimate the City will have lost $20 million in revenue due to COVID-19 between 2020 and 2022. The losses include large revenue declines to the City’s General Fund, as well as a significant reduction in the City’s Parking Fund.

COVID-19 by the Numbers: We are checking in with many sources to keep you updated on COVID-19 cases and vaccine information.

  • Six new cases were reported yesterday in Evanston; the seven-day average is 11.
  • Northwestern University reported 44 new cases for the seven days ending April 11, stable from the previous week.
  • There were no fatalities reported yesterday. Evanston has lost 116 residents to the pandemic.
  • Our City’s positive test rate for the past seven days is 1.2%; in suburban Cook County it is 5.7%, and in Illinois it is 4.2%. 
  • The number of cases per 100,000 population over the past seven days is 101 in Evanston, 157 in suburban Cook County, and 184 in Illinois.
  • Illinois received 962,000 doses and used 930,000 doses of the vaccine in the past seven days. Illinois has used 80% of the 9.4 million doses received to date.
  • Some 3.0 million or 23.8% of total Illinois residents are fully vaccinated, including 536,000 in the past seven days. 

Variants: The Illinois Department of Public Health now reports 1,051 cases of more infectious COVID-19 variants including 794 cases of variant B.1.1.7 (U.K.), 164 cases of P.1 (Brazil), and 80 cases of B.1.427/429 (California). 

Evanston Vax Facts: Some 51% of Evanston residents 16 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 24% of residents 16 and older are fully vaccinated as of last week. The proportion of Evanston seniors vaccinated is higher: 93% of residents 65 and older have received at least one dose and 65% are fully vaccinated.  

Evanston received 1,306 doses of the vaccine last week. Registration for City vaccination clinics is prioritized by age, from oldest to youngest, starting with those 60 years and older this week. More details are available on the City’s Vaccine Dashboard.

In case you missed the news: Everyone 16 and older is now eligible for vaccination in the State of Illinois. Given the limited supply of vaccines the City of Evanston is receiving, you may be able to schedule an appointment earlier at vaccination sites in suburban Cook County, the State of Illinois or Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sites. The FEMA drive-through site in Gary, Indiana has appointments available as early as this afternoon. The site is located at Roosevelt Park, about a 70-minute drive from Evanston.

The RoundTable is adding journalists to our stable of writers. As we expand our coverage, we’re looking for reporters interested in covering topics related to Evanston schools, arts, business, and City news.  Interested? Please email us at news@evanstonroundtable.com with a resume and writing clips. 

Elsewhere on the RoundTable Website

Mayor Hagerty’s State of the City Address Focuses on Challenges and Opportunities Ahead. On April 9, Mayor Stephen Hagerty delivered his 2021 State of the City Address at the Evanston Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon. The Mayor cited challenges during his term in office, including the global pandemic, racial inequity and injustice, a growing climate crisis, and threats to our nation’s democracy.

Wendy Pearlman Recounts Conversations with Syrian Refugees. The Levy Lecture Series speaker on April 6 was Dr. Wendy Pearlman, a professor of political science at Northwestern University specializing in the Middle East. She described the presentation as a “microcosm” of her third book, “We Crossed a Bridge And It Trembled: Voices from Syria.” Published in 2017, the book is a “curation of excerpts” from the hundreds of interviews Dr. Pearlman conducted with Syrian refugees between 2012 and 2016.”

COVID-19 Update on April 14: Six New Cases in Evanston, 3,536 in the State. Governor JB Pritzker today announced an additional State mass vaccination site in Matteson, Cook County, that will be open to all eligible Illinois residents on Thursday, April 15. “With the State’s seven-day test positivity rate and hospitalizations on the rise, local and State health officials are urging Illinois residents to seek out a vaccination location near them in order to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19,” said the Governor’s Office in a prepared statement today.

Masked Person of the Day: Evan Girard

Peggy Tarr: It Is Earth Month. The age of the children was only four. A group of them came running and laughing out the door. They jumped and skipped upon the ground and checked out everything around. They stopped to look at all the trees and dodged and darted away from bees. They looked up at different birds on high and labeled cloud formations in the sky. They inspected all flowers, especially daffodils. Their beauty and fragrance gave them thrills.

Les Jacobson: Take My Earth Day Challenge. Imagine a day dedicated to being nice. They could call it, “Don’t Be a Jerk Day.” One day a year everyone has to be jerk-free, has to restrain their Inner Jerk. The other 364 they can be as big of a jerk as they want. Ridiculous? Well-intentioned as it is, Earth Day has a similar issue. The implication is that on the other 364 days we can ravage, despoil, and desecrate our planet. Of course that’s ridiculous too, no truer than imagining we could treat our own homes like that. But the Earth is our home.

Around the Web

  • People experiencing homelessness have faced barriers in receiving stimulus checks even though they are eligible. But Connections for the Homeless has made it possible for some 400 individuals to receive their check through the mail. 
  • On yesterday’s public radio talk show The 21st, journalist Anna Casey holds a conversation about Illinois’ new legislation that aims to dismantle systemic racism through education. Experts discuss the call for every elementary and high school to develop a curriculum that includes one unit of studying pre-enslavement Black history. 
Annette Edwards and Darius, her giant rabbit. Damien McFadden/ANL, via Shutterstock
  • Weighing 50 pounds and measuring four feet long, the world’s longest rabbit disappeared this weekend from his home in England. The British police are treating his disappearance as an abduction and his owner is offering a 2,000-pound reward for his safe return.

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