The Chicago Transit Authority and the city's Department of Human Services and Police Department today announced their collaboration on a new program to provide assistance for homeless persons who have been using CTA trains and stations for shelter. The announcement was made at the monthly meeting of the Chicago Transit Board.
Under the program, a response team of social services workers stationed at the Howard Street station on the Red Line during late night hours will be available to provide immediate supportive services to homeless persons. Mobile response teams will ride Red and Blue Line trains and check station platforms to provide assistance. The Red and Blue (O'Hare/Congress) Lines run all night.
"The problems of people and families without homes is a societal issue that we will continue to address through the partnering with public and private agencies such as the CTA, the Department of Public Health, the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross," said Ray Vazquez, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Human Services.
Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard also attended today's meeting and said: ?The Chicago Police Department is committed to ensuring that a safe environment exists on public transportation for everyone. Toward that end, we will continue working with the Chicago Transit Authority."
The proposal came as a result of a security review that the CTA has been conducting over the past two months. Earlier this year, several crimes allegedly involving homeless persons were reported on CTA property. The CTA has been working closely with the Chicago Police Department and the Department of Human Services to look for ways to assist and relocate homeless persons who have been using the CTA for overnight shelter.
"We want to do all we can to provide a safe environment for our customers and employees. We teamed up with the Police Department and DHS because they have the resources and expertise to help address this situation in a way that will help us secure our system and help people who use our system for shelter get the assistance they need," said Chicago Transit Board Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett.
The CTA also reported that it has revised its deployment of private security guards to include platform patrols as part of their duties. Previously, security guards were assigned primarily to station entrances. The CTA added that it is continuing a safety audit of all its rail stations, bus terminals and public areas to ensure that such things as lighting and sight-lines are adequate. CTA security staff has also met with representatives of camera/security companies to discuss technology and surveillance equipment for rail stations. And it continues to work closely with the Chicago Police Department on the deployment of officers. The Police Department earlier this year reported that Part 1 offenses on the CTA decreased 15.28% from 1998 to 1999. Part 1 offenses include serious crimes such as homicide, criminal sexual assault, robbery and aggravated battery.
"When you consider that the CTA provides 1.5 million rides every weekday, and travels throughout Chicago and 38 suburbs with very few problems, it's clear that the CTA is a safe system. So when serious crimes are reported, we are committed to moving quickly to address them. That's why we are working with the Police Department and the Department of Human Services. Our ridership is growing around the clock and we want our employees and all our customers, new and old, to be safe and to feel safe too, " said CTA President Frank Kruesi.###