Catholic Charities to provide mobile outreach for the city

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Sunday, September 9, 2012

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago will begin providing mobile outreach services in October, under a $1.7 million contract with the City of Chicago.

Under the contract, Catholic Charities will provide staff and vans that will respond to requests that come into the city’s 311 line asking for well-being checks, food box assistance and transportation to warming and cooling centers during weather emergencies. The contract will run for 14 months.

Catholic Charities will provide the service at a significant cost reduction from what the city was paying to do it in-house, according to a statement released jointly by the city and Catholic Charities. The statement said services covered by this program were used by 6,967 households in 2011.

“Using Catholic Charities will cost less than half of what we are presently paying and allow us to improve and expand service,” said Evelyn Diaz, the city’s commissioner of Family and Support Services. “They have been one of the largest and most respected providers of socials services in the region since 1917 and utilize a highly qualified workforce with strong program management experience.”

“We know how to align things where the salaries can be competitive with other non-profits,” said Ed Flavin, Catholic Charities’ director of communications.

Plans for improving service include scheduling workers for overlapping shifts to avoid delays due to shift changes and supplementing the fulltime staff with part-time workers.

The agency also will be able to refer people who call for emergency help to a wide range of social service providers, including Catholic Charities programs and services offered by other providers.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to work with the city of Chicago to make an even greater difference in the lives of those who need our services the most,” said Msgr. Michael Boland, president of Catholic Charities. “Our workers have trained for and are dedicated to a mission of charity that provides compassionate, competent, professional services that strengthen and support individuals, families and communities. We welcome this opportunity to serve. This will further deepen our strong relationship with the city of Chicago.”

“This is a win-win situation for the city and for its most vulnerable residents who depend on our critical services at all hours and under all conditions,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. “We will now be able to provide these services more efficiently and save $1.7 million that we can reinvest in increasing programs for homeless youth, and employment services for homeless families in interim housing, and maintaining home-delivered meals for frail and isolated senior citizens.”

This is not the only contract Catholic Charities has with the city of Chicago. In 2006, the city contracted with Catholic Charities to provide services to help families who call 311 and ask for help to avoid becoming homeless. The calls are routed directly to Catholic Charities 24- hour call center, so people in need do not have to make an extra phone call.

That contract has been renewed every year since then and now costs the city $175,000 a year.