COOK COUNTY, IL – With significant challenges facing Chicago area residents who struggle with mental health, substance use and housing issues, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart highlighted the Community Resource Center for the public Wednesday as a one-stop support agency to help people find the help they seek.
“Whether it is an eviction, a jail stay, or a call to the police department, all too often the root cause of the situation stems from poverty, mental health challenges or substance use disorder,” said Sheriff Dart. “The pandemic has really intensified these challenges. We need to reach people to help with these very real problems long before they become crisis points.”
The Community Resource Center (CRC) is open to anyone who needs assistance. Trained CRC staff serve as comprehensive service navigators by understanding the client’s problems, identifying solutions and troubleshooting the barriers that often emerge. Potential connections can include mental health services, substance use disorder treatment, housing assistance, food, education, clothing, employment and government services.
At a press conference Wednesday, Sheriff Dart was joined by TASC President and CEO Joel Johnson, The New Roseland Community Hospital Administrator Elio Montenegro and Emily Metz, Housing Stability Program Director with the UChicago Inclusive Economy and Health Labs. TASC and The New Roseland Community Hospital are among dozens of providers that work with CRC staff to secure assistance for CRC participants.
“For those looking to get help or assist someone in finding treatment, it can be incredibly difficult to identify the right services at the right time, especially with so much at risk,” Montenegro said. “This new resource for the public is desperately needed and welcome. We are proud to partner with the Sheriff’s Office to reach people in real need with the exceptional programs we have to offer.”
Johnson said, “We look forward to continuing our work with the Sheriff’s Office to assure that people leaving the jail and those in the community have access to the care and services they need. Sheriff Dart understands the importance of community connections and access to services so people can rebuild their lives.”
The Inclusive Economy and Health Labs are longtime partners with the Sheriff’s Office on re-entry research. “Sheriff Dart and his team demonstrate steadfast commitment to addressing the multifaceted barriers returning citizens face when reentering the community,” Metz said. “Their commitment extends not only to developing innovative approaches to better serve returning citizens, but also to rigorously evaluating whether those services are having the intended positive effects on people’s lives.”
Due to the pandemic, most of the CRC’s work must be handled virtually. The CRC’s phone number is (773) 405-5116. Those seeking assistance can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.cookcountysheriffil.gov for an online submission form.
CRC opened with a soft launch on Sept. 23. To date, more than 1,300 individuals have accepted assistance in seeking mental health, substance use disorder, housing, food, employment or other services.
“We know from experience that going to jail or facing eviction almost always exacerbates mental illness and poverty, and unfortunately, often contributes to a downward spiral,” Sheriff Dart said. “My goal has always been to try to find ways to use these negative experiences as turning points, to help people get the support they need to set them on a positive trajectory. The CRC is the next step in that mission.”