On Palm Sunday, members of St. Luke’s gathered at the Logan Square Monument alongside neighbors, community organizations, and fellow churches to kick off a campaign to expand community mental health services in Logan Square, Avondale, and Hermosa.
Together, we gave public testimony that mental health matters to the church. We watched street theater that reminded us that—against a backdrop of exclusion and rejection by society for people suffering from demons and illness—Jesus time and time again brings healing and wholeness.
Historically, the church has too often been on the wrong side of mental health issues by telling people to “pray away” their symptoms or being an unwelcoming place for people with a variety of mental health needs.
Mental health care is especially important in our neighborhood, as gentrification causes trauma for people who are displaced.
Now we have the opportunity to work for mental health justice in our community so that all of God’s children may have abundant life!
St. Luke’s is working to help collect over 4,000 signatures to put a referendum on the ballot in November to establish a community mental health center.
For a small increase in property taxes ($4 on every $1,000), this center would provide FREE mental health services for anyone living in Logan Square, Hermosa or Avondale. For example, if your property tax bill is currently $4,000, you would see a maximum increase of $16 per year.
Similar binding referenda have already passed with overwhelmingly positive support in two other areas of our city, and one of these community mental health centers (The Kedzie Center) is already open and successful.
Unlike many other referenda on our ballots which only advise elected officials on policy issues, this would be a binding referendum. This means that if gets on the ballot and the people of the community vote yes, it will go into effect.
The funds collected by the property tax increase will stay right here in the neighborhood. They will be overseen by a community governing commission of 9 members from the neighborhood who will ensure that the funds are being used solely for providing free mental health services for residents.
So, how can you get involved?
If you are a registered voter in Logan Square, Avondale, or Hermosa, please take a moment after church services to find someone with a clipboard and sign the petition! (It’s actually two very quick pages to sign – one signature addresses the tax rate and the second approves the total annual amount to be raised by the program.)
Even if you don’t live in this area, you can help by educating your friends who do live in this area about this initiative and encouraging them to sign the petition. Anyone who is a registered voter in Illinois is welcome to collect signatures!
Additionally, volunteers are needed to help with:
- Tabling at the Farmers Market on Sunday, 6/24
- Collecting signatures at the Logan Square monument and possibly other locations and events
- Canvassing in our neighborhood after church
- Planning other events to help raise awareness and collect signatures
We have a tangible opportunity to create powerful change in our neighborhood! Will you join us this summer to work for mental health justice?