[remote or in person] Committee on Health and Human Relations

Chicago City Council

Wednesday, May 15, 2024
9:45 a.m. — 12:15 p.m. CDT

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121 N LaSalle St Chicago, IL 60602 (Directions)

City Hall, 2nd floor, Council Chambers

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Edited and summarized by the Chicago - IL Documenters Team

Note-taking by Cordell Longstreath

Live reporting by Eliot Wyeth

Eliot Harper Wyeth @elharpwhy
Good morning Chicago! Today I'll be live-tweeting the City Council Committee on Health and Human Services meeting for @CHIdocumenters #CHIdocumenters

09:47 AM May 15, 2024 CDT

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@CHIdocumenters As always, you can watch this city council meeting online at - just scroll down to "Meeting Notices" and click the link.
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@CHIdocumenters The meeting has not started streaming yet (though there are currently 27 people watching)
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You can see the agenda here:
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For a full list of members of this committee:
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The meeting is called to order.
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Quorum is met; eight members are present.
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Public comment is open.
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Cheryl Miller is first; she is joining remotely. She is with Southside Organizing for Power. She says they are concerned that the city has cancelled plans for a sobering center.
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She acknowledges that there were no bids; she says that this was predictable but not understandable. Nonetheless, she calls for the Department of Health to add it to be added to their portfolio of projects.
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Next is Lisa Salazar - she is a community nurse. In her social work internship with Treatment not Trauma, she met "Alex". He was a returning citizen who was struggling. He was 37, but struggled with substance use.
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Last November, at 39, he passed. She mourns him greatly. Unfortunately, she met the time limit.
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Next is Zoe Lee. Her Alder, Moore (17) has not helped her issue - which is that she considers that her mother's building was illegally knocked down, robbing her of her generational wealth. She has been coming down here for a here a year. She has a federal lawsuit pending.
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Next is Michael Yambe. He echoes Zoe Lee's statement that Council cares more about Palestine/Israel than Chicago and Chicagoans. He says that his people have been robbed of things that are rightfully theirs. CHA took him off the housing waiting list despite his homelessness.
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He says they concentrate on crime, when this crime is preventable by enriching the community.
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Next is George Blakemore. He says that, regarding the Puerto Rico vote on today's agenda, Puerto Ricans are not a race. Many are Black but they chose to align themselves with the Hispanic caucus because of racism.
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The last speaker is Mr. Sims. He says that the Health Departments policy doesn't seem to apply to Black people, who are brazenly murdered by the police.
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Mr. Sims has been homeless since July of 2021. A case worker has accused him of stalking because he called her out. He also requests the recording from the day he was shot by the police.
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The first item of business is the rule 45 report; the ayes have it.
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First is a presentation from the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) regarding Chicago’s response to the opioid epidemic and resources available to Chicagoans. They will be joined by Commissioner Ige.
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Commissioner Simbo Ige was appointed last last year.
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Better weather unfortunately means more usage and more overdoses, so this is an especially important matter today.
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Dr. Ige is a public health physician and Black woman. She wants to start with Chicago's Life Expectancy gap. Broken down by populations, there are huge gaps.
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There are populations that are as high as 80 and above; there are others that are 62 years.
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The state of affairs is important, but so are the trends. On the West Side, between 2010 and 2022, one area lost 4 years. South Side, all regions declined. On the North Side, they're looking at life expectancy gains.
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For non-Black people, there have been slight improvements; for Black people there has been a decline. This is from before covid as well.
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The life expectancy gap between Black and non-Black people is twice in Chicago versus the US average.
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To compare to NYC, Black people people there are expected to live to about 80. In Chicago, 76.6.
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The number one cause of this gap is chronic disease, particularly heart disease, which can account for a five year gap. Next is gun violence; that is addressed elsewhere. Next is opioid overdose, the topic today.
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Today's focus is opioid use because it is the one aspect that is not getting better.
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Chairman calls for silence in the chambers for the second time.
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Chairman asks if she needs to clear the chambers. "We are not taking public comment right now."
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Is the cause Youth Depression, or loneliness, or neighborhood belonging? No.
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There are high youth suicide attempts though; prescription opioid misuse...
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Someone from the public has been escorted out.
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Unmet mental health treatment need, neighborhood safety, and the big one: unemployment, which is 117% in the Black community. (Living under the poverty level is also 71% higher.) This leads to opioid use increases.
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The first wave of opioid overdoses was prescription misuse beginning in the 1990s; next wave has heroin use, started in 2010; we're now in the third wave, started in 2013, synthetic opioids.
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Fentanyl is 50 times as strong as heroin.
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The pandemic has also lead to a peak. It is starting to level off, but we're still in a historic high. >90% of overdoses are due to fentanyl.
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65% of opioid fatalities of Black; 78% are male.
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Every community area in Chicago has had an opioid related overdose EMS response in 2021, 22, 23; but the West Side has been disproportionately hit.
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A majority of overdoses in the West Side are in public spaces.
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First category of actions: naloxone distribution (which refuses overdose, and save someone's life in the moment, not long term)
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Next is linkage to treament and aldermanic relationships. Then its harm reduction education.
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Public Access Narcan is an important aspects; they're currently partnered with 12 alders' office. They've distributed 6000 units of narcan just through West Side libraries.
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They are also launching a "public health vending machine" program, which distribute narcan, test strips, cleanliness kits.
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Next is MAR - Medication Assisted Recovery. They can help with medications that help with addiction. They can also now prescribe these meds through telehealth. They have connected 600 people to these meds via telehealth so far.
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The highest uptake for these medications is in the West and South sides, which was the goal.
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Next is an Opioid Response Team. Right now they try to follow up with anyone transported to a medical facility for an overdose. The greatest risk for overdose is previous overdose.
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Next is the Narcotics Arrest Diversion Program. This is a matter of treating this as the medical disorder it is rather than a moral failing.
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They are also working on community level maps, and comparing those maps with staffing. This is meant to match the helpers with the problem.
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Next is Harm Reduction Education. CDPH conducts monthly harm reduction trainings on the 4th Friday of the month. These are open to the public and are conducted online.
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Next in the presentation is the current spike alert. Over the past weekends, we've gone from Orange to Red alert. This means there have been over 50 overdoses a day.
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CPDH Summer Target: in all 5 West Side neighborhoods, every household should have Narcan, every person should be aware of MAR NOW.
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Summer strategy: narcan distribution and drug checking (test strips for xylazine or fentanyl); overdose education; and connection to treatment.
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Dr Ige: "you know your community better" - so how do we better reach the people? She wishes to work together.
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Someone is again being ask to leave; we can hear shouting in the background.
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Chair Rodriguez Sanchez (33) is one the twelve offices currently working with CDPH. She urges every ward to reach out and collaborate.
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Chair Rodriguez Sanchez asks for more information about the Medical Transport program. It is a program that links the fire dept (who does the medical transport) and the Community Outreach program from UIC. They try to locate those who overdose in the community the day after.
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They then see if that person is interested in treatment. The pilot program is based in the West Side.
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Chair Rodriguez Sanchez acknowledges that that were plans for a sobering center, but that it is no longer going to receive AARPA funds. CDPH could not find a community partner.
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They explain that no one felt they could achieve it on the timeline. They still intend to have one, with different funding.
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Ald Ervin (28) asks who the individuals are who are overdosing. Overdoses tend to be someone 40-60yo, unemployed, mentally ill, under the poverty line, has had a prescription in the past and has switched to synthetics.
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Being justice-involves increases risk of overdose by 40-100 times, which is why they're pursuing the arrest diversion program.
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Neighborhood revitalization is definitely a factor, because things like education are preventative measures. The medication assisted treatments are also very important. Abstinence only education does not "provide the toolkit" kids need; hence harm reduction.
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Ald Ervin asks about the plan to bring more vending machines to East and West Garfield.
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Ald Ervin also asks about the stigma surrounding methadone treatment. What are we doing to manage the methadone programs?
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Dr Ige acknowledges that stigma is huge barrier to treatment. "We want folks to not feel ashamed." Ald Ervin clarifies: he is referring to the issues the community has with methadone clinics.
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One issue is clinics that only offer methadone; they wish to make every clinic full service for treatment. Buprenorphine is preferred for people with mild to moderate dependence nowadays. Underlying problems need to be addressed, not just physical dependence.
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Ald Ervin is concerned that methadone clinics are going to become the next pill mills; Dr Ige clarifies that usage of drugs to treat acute physical addiction is just to stop people from dying in the moment. Long term treatment is the goal.
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One issue is that buprenorphine is more expensive; it can also be a once-monthly in-office shot.
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Peer-lead recovery teams are also very important. They also provide a career opportunity for people in recovery.
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The corridor CDPH is concentrating on in the West Side is also the target of the mayor's Public Safety Initiative. Ald Ervin speculates that the two programs could collaborate to good effect.
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Next is Ald Mitts (37). She acknowledges that this hardly a new problem, but it has become perceptibly more common. Who are the agencies CDPH is working with?
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Dr Ige acknowledges that communities of color are targeted by predatory marketing; CDPH are also continuing to work on reducing tobacco use.
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Ald Mitts is particularly concerned about the children.
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Next was Vice Mayor Burnett but she is not present.
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Ald Hadden (49) requests a hotspot map for her ward. She also asks about housing, particularly housing for people who are recovering. How can people protect people who are targeted by dealers?
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Ald Hadden lost a 20 year old cousin to fentanyl; she thought she was doing one recreational drug but it was another. She was gone before her friends could even do anything.
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95% of fatalities have fentanyl in them; ten years ago it was less than a third. The innovations in opioids have made preventing deaths tremendously more difficult.
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It is difficult in the data to determine what people thought they were consuming when they overdose, but toxicology reports are incredibly varied today. They do not currently have data on how many overdoses are accidental, but they wish to pursue that question.
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Next is Ald Lopez (15). He wishes to also commit his ward to working with this department. He references an AIDS prevention program that they worked on that has petered out; he wishes for this program to continue for years.
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He wants to work with their federal partners to hold China accountable for their role in opioids entering the country.
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Ald Manaa-Hoppenworth (48) is next. She also wants to collaborate. How is Chicago working with Cook County, particularly with the jail system?
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CDPH collaborates with CCPH and Cook County Jail to ensure that returning citizens get the support they need. They are particularly vulnerable because their tolerance is lowered while incarcerated.
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Ald Manaa-Hoppenworth: "how are we holding the healthcare industry accountable?"
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She asks about the alternate use of medical marijuana after surgery.
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The CDC has guidelines for prescribing opioid, and CDPH tries to educate about those guidelines. The recommendation currently is not prescribe opioids at all for episodic pain. There is also a prescription monitoring program to hold prescribers accountable.
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Dr Ige references predatory marketing that the pharmaceutical industry uses.
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Ald Ervin asks about CPS's role in education.
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The DEA's marketing campaign has concentrated on the fact that you never know what you're taking; CDPH's focus is getting people connected to resources. "You can almost consider it a poison control issue."
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They are now proceeding to the next item of the agenda.
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Next is R2024-0008389 (Ald. Fuentes, 26): “Expression of support for right for self-determination for people of Puerto Rico and opposition to Puerto Rico Status Act”
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Ald Fuentes has the ward with the highest percentage of Puerto Ricans.
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She likens the issue to owning her turtle neck, versus her hand; the US treats PR like an object that it owns, versus an appendage that is vitally a part of it.
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The Puerto Rico Status Act creates the opportunity for the people to speak for themselves. It's an education issue though: are the people properly educated on the subject?
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"We are asking them to determine their future blindly." However, the act does not address the specifics that are vital to making this decision.
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There is no transition plan should PR decide to become a state, much less an idea of what it would look like to become a sovereign state.
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There are people in the 26th ward that came over in the 50s and 60s and still plan to return to PR. "This needs to be an informed process."
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Ald Fuentes calls for a version of this bill that accounts for all the possibilities. She asks for support for this resolution.
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Ald Lopez clarifies: is this in response to the Puerto Rican Status act in the house? He supports the ability of Puerto Ricans to determine their own status. He regards the current bill as quite thorough however, including an education component.
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Ald Fuentes clarifies: you're reading the bill she is proposing. The bill in the House lacks the education component.
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Ald Lopez: why oppose the current bill instead of supporting the current one and also supporting the one she is proposing?
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Ald Fuentes: an amendment is also acceptable. They can work on that.
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Next item: O2024-0008872 (Ald. Villegas, 36): “Requirement for City departments and agencies to include designation of Middle Eastern or North African on data reports using racial or ethnic classifications”
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The MENA designation will be on the 2030 census.
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This bill is proposed to ensure that the MENA community gets appropriate resources.
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Do we have an information from the city about how long this will take? The goal is to get this passed by the whole City Council ASAP. Hopefully by the end of the year this will be an option.
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The ayes have it.
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They are taking a five-minute recess to amend the Puerto Rico bill. You can read the full text (pre-amendment) here:
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The MENA ordinance can be found here:
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While it's on the agenda, R2024-0008942 (Ald. Martin, 47): “Expression of support for passage of Illinois House Bills 5314 and 5432 and Illinois Senate Bill 3680 known as The Community Safety Through Stable Homes Act” was not addressed. It is dated for the previous meeting.
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To clarify, the previous scheduled meeting. That meeting was canceled.
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This item was also misnumbered on the agenda (as a second first item), but it wasn't addressed in meeting so I can't speculate what happened there.
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Video is back but audio is not.
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They are back. Motion to approve the amended resolution; ayes have it.
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Motion to adjourn; adjourned at 12:34.
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Here are the slides from earlier presentation by CDPH:
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For more information on the MAR NOW program, see here:
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You can reach them for help by phone at (833) 2FINDHELP (833-234-6343) 24 hours a day.
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To read more about the Public Health Vending Machine Pilot Program, as well as access a map, see here:
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All vending items are free with a PIN; see the flyer above for details. There is no PIN needed for Narcan: just enter 1234.
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No insurance or ability to pay is necessary for the MAR NOW program either.
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That concludes today's coverage for the May 15th meeting of the Committee for Health and Human Relations. The next meeting has not been scheduled. For more coverage, check out #CHIdocumenters


Agency Information

Chicago City Council

The Chicago City Council is the legislative branch of the government of the City of Chicago and consists of the Mayor and Aldermen elected from each of the City’s fifty wards. Source

If you attend a meeting in person, be prepared to go through a security checkpoint and show photo ID.

Meetings are also livestreamed at https://www.chicityclerk.com/.

At this link, scroll down to “Meeting Notices.” Look for “Watch now” and click on the link with the meeting title to go to a livestream page. If you don’t see a link for the meeting, you may be early or the meeting may be starting late. Wait a few moments and try refreshing your Internet tab.

Recordings of past City Council meetings may be found here: https://vimeo.com/user100351763/videos/sort:date.

See also: “What to Expect at a Meeting of Chicago’s City Council” via the Better Government Association.



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