Daily file illustration by Catherine Buchaniec
The city’s tentative coronavirus recovery plans prioritize business support, resident well-being and use of public spaces. Community members can offer input to help shape the final draft, according to a Monday news release.
The Post COVID-19 Action Plan was created based on community and organizational needs assessment surveys, as well as feedback from city staff, community organizations and the city’s Emergency Operations Center team.
In a letter to Evanston residents, former Mayor Steve Hagerty wrote the community feedback will help the city “rebuild an Evanston that is more vibrant, healthy, sustainable, resilient, equitable, and inclusive.”
“No single individual, activist, or organization will solve all of our many challenges,” Hagerty said in the letter. “It will take all of us, working in unison, to build back better.
In the report, the city emphasized the need to address health disparities and wealth inequalities, as well as reimagine commercial areas and strategically use funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Evanston’s unemployment quadrupled during the pandemic, rising from 3 percent to a peak of 12 percent in July. In March of this year, the unemployment rate was 5.8 percent. The pandemic disproportionately impacted lower wage and lower educated service employees, according to the report.
The pandemic also strained mental health and social service networks and increased food insecurity in the community.
The city’s action plan aims to support businesses, increase living wage jobs, support resident wellbeing, safely manage public spaces and provide equitable access to digital and social services.
The city’s goals also include expanding broadband services, increasing access to preventative health care and education and investing in infrastructure.
“These challenges are great, but our opportunities are even greater,” Hagerty said. “I am confident that if we continue to implement an organized, whole-of-community approach, our recovery will be just as strong as our response to this pandemic.”
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