Catholic Charities to lead community outreach for Chicago’s CityKey ID

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Ald. James Cappleman (46th) shows off his new municipal ID last year. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

Catholic Charities and two other delegate agencies will be paid $443,470 through Dec. 31 to help administer Chicago’s controversial CityKey municipal identification program, City Clerk Anna Valencia disclosed Tuesday.

Joining Catholic Charities in the outreach program pivotal to the citywide launch of the municipal ID program will be Phalanx Family Services and a group of more than 40 organizations led by the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition.

The outreach agencies were chosen after a request-for-proposals issued by the city. The contract will run through Dec. 31.

Together, the three delegate agencies will be responsible for: educating Chicagoans on the value and side benefits of the municipal ID program; helping CityKey applicants collect necessary documents and staffing mobile sites where the IDs will be distributed; supporting the city’s clerk’s office in that effort.

Valencia and Emanuel announced in mid-December that the municipal identification card Chicago created would be called “CityKey.”

Enrollment is free for the first 100,000 applicants; after that, it’s a $10 fee — $5 for those 17 and under. Applicants 65 and older also get the cards free, and fee waivers may be available for low-income and homeless Chicagoans, veterans, victims of domestic violence and participants in the One Summer Chicago jobs program.

City Clerk Anna Valencia and Mayor Rahm Emanuel atlaslt year’s announcement of the name, cost and other details about Chicago’s municipal ID program. |  Fran Spielman /Sun-Times<br>

City Clerk Anna Valencia and Mayor Rahm Emanuel atlaslt year’s announcement of the name, cost and other details about Chicago’s municipal ID program. | Fran Spielman /Sun-Times

After spending $1 million and allocating another $1 million for 2018, Emanuel initially hoped to start issuing IDs by Dec. 31 for cards that would double as Ventra and library cards. The date was initially pushed back to March after a first-quarter test to “ensure security and full integration of card features.”

That didn’t happen, either.

No date has been set for the citywide launch even though a fourth side benefit has been added: discounts on name-brand and generic prescription drugs at no direct cost to the city or participating residents.

“The CityKey is one step closer to launching citywide as we officially announce the organizations that will help us to make this program a success,” Valencia was quoted as saying Tuesday in a press release announcing the community outreach program.

“We are thrilled to partner with such incredible organizations that serve the many different communities that the CityKey is meant to impact both programmatically and geographically.”

With “150 locations and hundreds of community partners,” Catholic Charities is uniquely positioned to perform the community outreach role, Monsignor Michael Boland, the organizations’ president and CEO, was quoted as saying.

“Every 30 seconds someone turns to Catholic Charities for help. … We are pleased to work with the City Clerk’s office to register individuals for the new CityKey program to help them gain access to valuable services and resources that require an ID,” Boland was quoted as saying.

Tina Sanders, CEO of Phalanx Family Services, said the CityKey will “help address one of the barriers to employment” on the far South Side.

Chicago created CityKey to help bring undocumented immigrants “out of the shadows.” But it quickly became a hotbed of controversy.

During City Council budget hearings, African-American aldermen renewed their longstanding claim that the ID is a “waste of money.”

The criticism got so repetitive, Budget Committee Chairman Carrie Austin (34th) said: “All those who think it’s a bad idea, raise your hand.”

Then-gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives and Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st) held at a March news conference slamming Mayor Emanuel’s new CityKey ID. | Erin Brown/Sun-Times

Then-gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives and Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st) held at a March news conference slamming Mayor Emanuel’s new CityKey ID. | Erin Brown/Sun-Times

Last month, now-failed Republican gubernatorial challenger Jeanne Ives joined forces with the City Council’s lone Republican to oppose using the ID to register to vote.

Ives argued then that accepting the municipal ID for voter registration “is literally suborning voter fraud. And the political class in the sanctuary city of Chicago is brazen about this fact.”

Emanuel was dismissive: “She should just take her Trump rhetoric out of the city. It doesn’t reflect our values.”

Days later, a rival bidder made the politically-explosive claim that printing technology used to create the new ID compromises personal information the city promised to keep confidential to shield illegal immigrants from the threat of deportation.

Valencia and Chief Procurement Officer Jamie Rhee flatly denied the charge.

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