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CHICAGO (CBS) – Cook County Board President Tony Preckwinkle said county officials have found more money to add to a summer jobs program for youths in high-crime neighborhoods.
WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the Preckwinkle Administration feels the need for the program is too great to ignore.
Preckwinkle said her office has come up with an additional $120,000 to provide job mentors for an additional 75 to 100 kids this summer, targeting youths in the city’s highest crime areas. She said she felt the need to provide the extra money, given the spike in the city’s murder rate this year.
“This has been a very troubling summer, in terms of the level of violence, particularly on the weekends,” Preckwinkle said. “I dread reading the Monday morning papers, to see how many people have been shot, and how many – particularly young people – have lost their lives.”
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
Preckwinkle did not deny the county was already facing a budget deficit, but she said there have been too many stories in recent weeks about how many people have been shot and killed in Chicago over the weekends.
“When you’re faced with that kind of spike in violence, you need to figure out what you can do to be supportive of the efforts to reduce it, and this is one of the things we’re going to do,” Preckwinkle said.
Federal support for summer youth job programs “has just kind of fallen off the cliff,” according to Preckwinkle, leaving it up to local governments to fill the gap.
She said the additional money is coming from parts of the county’s operating budget, which had been set aside for other purposes.
“We just looked at where we could sweep money, frankly, that was within our existing appropriation, so we wouldn’t have to open the budget process and re-appropriate. We could take it from existing funds,” she said.
She said the additional funds should help more young people find and maintain jobs.
“This will go, specifically, toward jobs mentors. These are folks whose assignment is to help these kids find employment, so we’ve already made a contribution of $140,000 to this program. We’re adding money to help with the good and difficult work of being sure that the kids not only get jobs, but keep them.”