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Wednesday, July 9, 2008 09:01 pm

Rethinking the plan

Ten-year homeless plan to be revised

Untitled Document Five years after Mayor Tim Davlin’s creation of a task force on homelessness and its formulation of a 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness in Springfield, changes are being made to the plan. The city has hired strategic-planning firm Sikich Gardner & Co. to recalibrate the 10-year plan, says Springfield community-relations director Sandy Robinson, who last year became Davlin’s point man on the homeless. Robinson also serves as a co-chairman of the mayor’s task force, formerly headed by Springfield United Way president John Kelker, who stepped down from the post last summer.  “Measurable goals, more timelines, and more specifics about some of the bigger pieces that we’re trying to undertake that need buy-in from all segments of the community: We want to make sure that those parts of the plan are viewed as being viable, particularly by the business community,” Robinson says of the plan’s refocusing. The city will pay Sikich $10,000 for its work, which will be finished by the end of the year. Springfield businesses requested the revision, Robinson says, so that if “we ask for investment for things that are outlined in the plan there’s a reasonable expectation of accountability.”
He says that the business community has a vested interest in solving the problem of chronic homelessness because high visibility can reduce tourism and homeless people, once stable, can serve as an employee pool for certain types of industries. Drafted in November 2004, the original strategic plan is organized into four components: coordination of services, public awareness through local media, prevention of homelessness, and maintenance of housing supports. Davlin regularly touts the establishment of a wintertime Springfield overflow shelter under his administration, which the plan calls for. Other goals that are outlined in the plan but remain unaccomplished are the development of a so-called safe haven and increased shelter space in Sangamon County. The recalibration is taking place in conjunction with several other events that will be held this month. On Thursday, July 17, President George W. Bush’s homelessness czar, Philip Mangano, will be in the capital city to meet with Springfield city officials, business groups, and members of the advocacy group Homeless United for Change, which initiated Mangano’s visit. The day concludes with a community forum at the St. John’s Hospital James T. Dove conference center at 6:30 p.m. Around the time of Mangano’s Springfield trip next week, Robinson anticipates a “drumbeat of announcements” from area homeless service providers about expansion of shelter beds, day-center facilities, and housing opportunities, although he declines to offer specifics.
Contact R.L. Nave at rnave@illinoistimes.com.
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