Connections and Cook County Partnership Brings Shelter, Housing, and Food to Neighbors in Need
EVANSTON, IL — Today, President Preckwinkle joined Connections for the Homeless Executive Director Betty Bogg, local elected officials and community partners to announce $50,000 in private donations for a pilot program that provides delivery of meals purchased from local restaurants and chefs to the homes of recently housed individuals and families. Launched in November, the pilot was made possible through seed funding of $30,000 provided by Cook County through CARES dollars and demonstrates Cook County's continuing commitment to join with partners to help those in need during the pandemic.
“Our work with Connections for the Homeless is the perfect example of the good that can come when the private, public and non-profit sectors partner to solve problems,” said President Preckwinkle. “This money will go a long way in feeding our neighbors in need and builds on all of the other work we’ve undertaken with Connections as we respond and recover from this crisis. It is another example of Cook County's commitment to helping communities build a strong recovery. "
Initially planned for approximately 13 weeks, the project will feed 60 vulnerable neighbors two meals a day through the end of February. Local business leaders and philanthropists are rallying behind the effort which will infuse a total of $80,000 into local restaurants. Major donors to the effort include:
- Byline Bank
- NorthShore University Health Care
- Rotary International
- Lewis Sebring Family Foundation
- Elizabeth Tisdahl, former Mayor, Evanston
- Joe Flanagan, Chairman, Cook County Health Foundation
In addition to the pilot, Cook County has partnered with Connections for the Homeless to deliver other essential services to Cook County residents amid the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Cook County has provided funding to contribute to the continuum of services Connections offers ranging from eviction prevention, to shelter, and housing programs. Connections has served over 2,500 residents since the start of the pandemic and much of that support has been funded by Cook County. The agency reports that their overall COVID-Response efforts led to an investment of more than $5,000,000 into the local economy through hotel and shelter operations, staff wages, rent to area landlords, and restaurant partnerships.
“Partnering with Cook County and key community stakeholders demonstrates what’s possible when every community stakeholder steps up to the plate. This collaboration allows us to take bold and comprehensive steps toward achieving our vision of ending homelessness in Northern Cook County,” said Connections’ Executive Director Betty Bogg.
To date, the overall partnership has infused more than $3,300,000 of CARES funding from the County through Connections and into local landlords, restaurants, and the hospitality industry throughout Evanston and the North Shore. This includes $1,800,000 in shelter support, $800,000 in eviction prevention funding, and $700,000, in rental assistance funding for households going from homelessness and into housing of their own.
“I came to Connections at a rough point in my life and they treated me like family," said Carlos Duany, a recently-housed program participant. "Thank you to Cook County and Connections' for their work in this time. It reminded me that people in the community really do care and want to offer support."
Since the pandemic began, Cook County has invested over $82,000,000 dollars county-wide through the Cook County Recovery Initiative, a network of recovery efforts with partners. To learn more about Cook County’s recovery programs, visit cookcountyil.gov/recovery. To learn more about Connections’ COVID-Response efforts, visit connect2home.org/coronavirusresponse
Video footage from the event can be found at facebook.com/presidentpreckwinkle.
Photos from the event can be found at this file-sharing website.