A new community mental health center offering free services in the centre-south will be created after voters in the region overwhelmingly passed referendums endorsing it.
The center will provide a range of counseling services and other treatment to uninsured residents of Kenwood, Hyde Park, Woodlawn and South Shore.
Two referendums appeared on the ballots in several precincts in the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 20th Wards: one asked voters if they approved of the establishment of the center in the community, the other s they approved the financing of the center with a property tax. increase by 0.025% on the Equally Assessed Value (EAV) of their accommodation.
Out of a total of 25,502 votes, 93.54% were in favor of the establishment of the centre, and out of a total of 25,327 votes, 88.14% were in favor of increasing the property tax (amounting to $4 per $1,000 of annual taxes for owners), according on the Chicago Board of Elections.
Within Hyde Park-Kenwood, of the 10,826 votes on the center creation measure, 92.69% were in favour; of the 10,640 votes on funding the center, 88.05% were in favour.
Rapheal Arteberry, a lead organizer with the Coalition to Save Our Mental Health Centres, said he was surprised it was such a high ‘yes’ vote. “It was also higher voter turnout, it was crazy and really crucial for the campaign,” he added.
Services will be determined by a pending community health needs assessment, but may include trauma counseling and treatment for substance use disorders.
In 2020, Bronzeville residents passed a similar series of referendums approving a property tax-funded community mental health center, slated to open in 2023 at 4058 S. Michigan Ave. Needs assessment in March conducted by the center, residents of Near South Side, Bronzeville, Douglas, Oakland, Grand Boulevard, Fuller Park and Washington Park said the “most sought-after services” were group and individual counseling, followed by educational programs and services for young people.
These centers are a direct result of the Expanded Community Mental Health Services Act 2011, which gives residents the ability to establish community-funded and endorsed mental health centers as part of the expanded mental health services program. (EMHSP) of the city.
Members of the Coalition to Save Our Mental Health Centers and other area groups have been organizing to restore fully funded centers since 1991, when Mayor Richard Daley closed Seven of the city’s 19 public mental health centres. In 2012, the mayor Rahm Emanuel closed half of the remaining clinics. Of the five centers still in operation today, only one is accessible from the mid-south side: Kenwood’s Greater Grand Mental Health, 4314 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
The groups said they collected signatures on last two summers in order to get the referendum on the ballot.
Although the location has yet to be determined, in August interview with HeraldRebecca Jarco, deputy director of the coalition, said the location will be centrally located and accessible by public transport.
Similar referendums to establish a community mental health clinic were also on the West Town residents’ ballot, which residents past with 85.43% of “yes”.
Next steps include creating a governance commission made up of nine residents and two mental health professionals, appointed by Governor JB Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot, to manage funds and assess needed services.
Arteberry said the creation of the center is a “two to three year project” and the commission will also be responsible for selecting the location and holding public meetings.
George and Tanger Fielder, South Shore residents who are organizing with the coalition, said community needs will include post-traumatic stress disorder due to community violence, depression and poverty-related stress. .
“(Referendums) set a good and effective precedent for engaging the community to meet their own needs, and even go further, to help provide the funding we need for our own situations that need to be corrected. “, said George Fielder.
“That could be a good vehicle to use in the future, so that we’re more connected to the political system, and we don’t feel like people in political offices can’t hear us or can’t attend to our needs,” he added.