Broad Shoulders Update

news and information for cmun dev advocates in metropolitan Chicago

Protesters Demand CPS, Mayor Halt Cuts, Ask ‘Rich to Pay Their Fair Share’

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35) speaks at a rally to prevent funding cuts to neighborhood schools at the Illinois Centennial Monument in Logan Square Tuesday morning.

DNAInfo/Paul Biasco


LOGAN SQUARE — Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa is calling on the mayor to declare a TIF surplus to spare Chicago's neighborhood schools from another round of budget cuts.

Ramirez-Rosa spoke at a rally in Logan Square Tuesday morning where community members representing 10 neighborhood schools that are set to lose more than $4 million in funding demanded those cuts be reversed.

"Our families and our children have paid enough," the alderman said. "It's time for the rich to pay their fair share."

Of 11 neighborhood Logan Square schools, 10 are set to face spending cuts.

To prevent those cuts Ramirez-Rosa and a number of community representatives from those schools are asking Mayor Rahm Emanuel to declare a surplus in the city's tax increment financing fund and to use that money to go directly to neighborhood schools.

“There are districts throughout this city where the property tax dollars that should be going to our schools are siphoned off and used as handouts to big corporations and big businesses," Ramirez-Rosa said. "I think that’s wrong.”

Ramirez-Rosa was joined by Ald. Milly Santiago (31st) Tuesday morning, who also called on the mayor to use excess TIF funds as a stopgap.

"This is completely unacceptable," she said. "If there's money for charter schools, there has to be money for our local schools."

Protesters rally to save neighborhood schools from funding cuts in Logan Square Tuesday morning.

DNAInfo/Paul Biasco

The hardest hit Logan Square school, Kelvyn Park High School, will lose $1.69 million for the 2015-2016 school year.

Those cuts will impact tutoring programs, field trips, transportation for sports teams and require the elimination of some programs and teaching positions, said Hector Gonzalez, a Kelvyn Park teacher and LSC member.

At Darwin Elementary, funding for school supplies will be cut from the typical $40,000 to $3,000, which is approximately $6 for every student.

Other schools such as Monroe Elementary are losing a music teacher and band director.

Alondra Gonzalez, a soon-to-be sophomore at Kelvin Park, attended Tuesday's rally to help save programs at her school that will be cut.

"I'm fighting for me as well as my classmates and friends," she said.

Gonzalez said for some classmates Kelvin Park was the only CPS school they were accepted to and that cutting more programs and tutoring would have a extemely negative impact.

"How are they going to be able to move on in life?" she said. "They are going to be out in the street doing who knows what."

The spending cuts, which were announced by Chicago Public Schools July 13, are due to systemwide cuts but also enrollment declines in the schools which are funded on a student-based budgeting system.

That means schools receive a per-pupil amount for every student enrolled.

Gentrification in the neighborhood displacing low and moderate income families has resulted in lower enrollment at neighborhood schools making the cuts more severe, according to the Logan Square Neighborhood Association.

Local leaders are demanding the Chicago Housing Authority invest its cash reserves into scattered-site housing throughout Logan Square, Avondale and surrounding areas to stabilizing communities.

The housing authority has $440 million in cash reserves.

“Our school budgets are getting chopped at the same time families are struggling to stay in their community," said Jennifer Velazquez, a Kelvyn Park High School graduate and local school council member. "The working class is being targeted.”

Kelvyn Park is projected to see a drop of about 125 students in the 2015-2016 schools year. The school's budget was already slashed by 27 percent in 2013.

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35) speaks with residents after a rally at the Illinois Centennial Monument in Logan Square Tuesday morning.

DNAInfo/Paul Biasco

Ald. Ramirez-Rosa pointed to the significant loss of housing at the Lathrop Homes site, which contains 925 low-rise units on 30 acres.

Only a fraction of those homes are occupied and the plans to redevelop the site with mixed-income housing have dragged on for years.

"I want to make sure if we are losing any units of affordable housing that they are replaced one-for-one and that they have a home here in my area of Logan Square," Ramirez-Rosa said.

Laura Crotte (l.) performed during the rally.

DNAInfo/Paul Biasco

Go to DNAInfo Chicago

Written by Logan Square Neighborhood Association - Latest news

July 28th, 2015 at 6:00 pm

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Industry and Advocates: To Truly Help Homeowners, Work Together

In recent months, the once very under-the-radar debate about manufactured home financing has gotten much more attention than is typical for the industry. At issue are lending regulations promulgated by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, which took effect in January 2014. The rules, which encourage responsible lending to consumers who are typically low-income and often first-time homebuyers, offer more protections to borrowers for loans that exceed certain rate and fee thresholds. It also defines retailers—who often direct families to lenders—as loan originators if they perform certain functions, such as completing a loan application. These are common-sense rules aimed at preventing another industry-caused mortgage meltdown like the one that occurred at the end of the last century. The regulations treat chattel loans, which fund the majority of purchases, differently—more generously—than mortgages. And they should. Lenders argue that the rules are too onerous, forcing banks from the market or making other lenders restrict the types of loans they offer. For whatever reason, industry has not shared data to support their claims, but have relied on anecdotes and, more to the point, Congress, which introduced legislation that would gut the rules. It’s clear that part of the strategy to advance the measure is to attack organizations that oppose the bill, such as mine, as ill-informed or as somehow opposed to consumers and manufactured housing. Here’s the truth. . .

Written by Rooflines

July 28th, 2015 at 2:00 pm

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The Case for a Third Airport

Photo: Brain Power/Flickr

Photo: Brain Power/Flickr

Metropolitan Chicago and its surrounding regions have the existing rail infrastructure in place to efficiently transport cargo in today’s globalized economy. Both partially-completed and finished goods are now required to travel further distances with the added pressure of delivering the cargo in a timely manner. In order to be competitive, firms are balancing their resources against the tide of growing prices of fuel, equipment, and labor. Inflated business costs highlight the necessity to utilize more cost-efficient methods like rail carriers in this world of intermodal cargo transport.

Intermodalism refers to containerized cargo being transported to its final destination via multiple forms of carriers. This part of the country is considered the epicenter of intermodal freight transportation because of two key advantages: its geographic locality between the coastal terminals and its existing rail infrastructure. The region’s significance is best illustrated by its wide access to every major type of carrier, including air, water, rail, and truck. The diverse array of access points designates this region as the nation’s busiest intermodal terminal, evidenced by the movement of over $3 trillion worth of freight annually.

By design, the intermodal industry thrives on diverse forms of carriers and this region houses the nation’s most active intermodal terminal. Chicago’s geographical position also widens the potential profit margins in this bourgeoning intermodal export market. It remains crucial that the seven counties region continues to develop a strong infrastructure in this region in order to take advantage of the economic benefits of nearly 50 percent of the nation’s containerized cargo beginning or ending here.

Photo: Glyn Lowe/Flickr

Photo: Glyn Lowe/Flickr

So while the economic opportunities of the larger enveloping region are abundant and notably attractive, it is not without its barriers. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s (CMAP) regional freight policy asserts that the key challenge in sustaining this region’s status as the national freight epicenter is to address the issue of insufficient funding. If successful in adding their provisions to the DRIVE Act*, leaders of this region would address an issue that would diminish the industry’s economic potency if left unresolved. If acquired, the funds should be directed at programs that maintain, modernize and expand the highways and railroads that are most used by freight and passenger transportation.

Unfortunately, forgone maintenance and modernization and expansion projects yielded a level of traffic congestion that named three Chicago locations as the country’s worst trucking bottlenecks, according to CMAP and a 2014 report by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI). Furthermore, the Chicago region has been listed among the country’s worst for its highway congestion resulting in billions of dollars lost every year.

Understandably, within the massive boundary of the larger metropolitan region of Chicago, the level of competition for federal grants reveals a concern in how the funds will be administered. The ATRI report is anchored by the notion that Will County should receive prospective funds on a priority status. It also argues that the southern suburbs of Chicago should be the focal point for intermodal infrastructure efforts in the future. Specifically, that upon receipt of the prospective federal funds, leaders of the seven-county region should take notice of the many advantages provided by the southern suburbs.

These advantages are best demonstrated in terms of the southern suburbs’ access to the four primary modes of carrier movement, which include their broad access to rail yards and major interstate highways, as well as the waterways of the Cal-Sag Harbor. Most notably, the region’s current level of congestion could potentially be alleviated by transitioning away from O’Hare International Airport’s freight-related ventures and alternatively focus on the development of a new airport in Peotone, Illinois.

Photo: Nicholas A. Tonelli/Flickr

Photo: Nicholas A. Tonelli/Flickr

For opponents of this proposal, that a third airport in southern Illinois would be unnecessary and impractical, I would make the case that streamlining O’Hare’s business ventures to focus solely on passenger flights alleviates pressures associated with being the nation’s busiest airport as well as traffic congestion. With two distinct modes of businesses now at separate terminals, an intermodal firm’s proficiency measurements–speed and reliability–may very well see gains in efficiency.

To envision an economically stable region coupled with steady-growth rates in the future, the leaders in the seven-county region would do well by initiating intermodal infrastructure efforts by developing a freight cargo plane terminal in Peotone. Implementing this proposal would fortify the chances of advancing regional equity as well as the economic benefits tied to participating in the burgeoning intermodal industry.

*CMAP Board drafted a letter to the Senate EPW Committee earlier this month and it was cosigned by leaders representing the surrounding seven-county region as well as the City of Chicago. Essentially, the letter began with approval for the DRIVE Act provision that relies upon performance-based criteria for national and state freight plans, yet failed to apply the same philosophy with regard to how funds are allocated.

Notes:
This blog post focused on freight policy for metropolitan Chicago and drew upon the past recommendations detailed in CMAP’s comprehensive regional plan, GO TO 2040. Next, the blog moved independently to provide evidence to support the position that Chicago’s southern suburbs are the preeminent location, within the larger metropolitan Chicago region, to initiate intermodal infrastructure programs.

References

CMAP. (2015). Intermodalism: Metropolitan Chicago’s Built-In Economic Advantage. May 1, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/about/updates/-/asset_publisher/UIMfSLnFfMB6/content/intermodalism-metropolitan-chicago-s-built-in-economic-advantage

CMAP. (2014). GO TO 2040. Retrieved from: http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/about/2040

CMAP. (2014). Freight Policy. Retrieved from http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/mobility/freight/policy

CMAP. (2014). Regional Freight Leadership Task Force: Report to the CMAP Board. May 14, 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/documents/10180/268032/FY14-0122%20REGIONAL%20FREIGHT%20LEADERSHIP%20TASK%20FORCE%20REPORT.pdf/be26edae-1d8f-4377-b045-c1578bfb8a1a
Glaeser, E. and Shapiro, J. (2003). City growth: which places grew and why, in A. Berube, B. Katz and R. E. Lang (Eds) Redefining Urban and Suburban America: Evidence from Census 2000, pp. 13-32. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.

Written by Oak Park Regional Housing Center

July 27th, 2015 at 9:55 pm

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Marquette Elementary: A School, a Community Organization and a Health Care Provider Steer a New, Better Course

Marquette Elementary School, like the sturdy Chicago Lawn bungalows that surround it, can take a punch. It’s absorbed a few since opening 90 years ago, providing primary education to generations of working class Chicagoans on the Southwest Side. 

Marquette Elementary, a large public school in Chicago Lawn, is climbing out of a years-long slump with a new health care provider, new management, and a community organization that stuck with it every step of the way.

Photos by Gordon Walek

As one of Chicago’s largest public elementary schools, with nearly 1,300 students, and occupying a square city block at 65th and Richmond streets, Marquette is a formidable institution in a residential neighborhood. 

Down but not out

But just a few years ago, it was nearly down for the count. As a persistently rated Level 3 school (Chicago Public Schools’ lowest), it was in a state of permanent probation. As one of five schools comprising LISC Chicago’s Elev8 program, it had benefitted from efforts to increase parental engagement, expand after-school activities and improve student and community health through construction of a federally qualified health center in the building. 

But while that helped, it wasn’t enough to completely change the school’s academic fortunes. In 2012, CPS designated Marquette as a turnaround school. Teachers and staff were required to resign and The Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), a nonprofit school management organization, brought in its own teachers and administrators in an attempt to re-shape the school culture, improve test scores and re-engage parents. Such abrupt transitions are rarely pretty and often disruptive, even if sometimes effective over the long haul.

At about the same time, ACCESS, which managed the on-site health center, announced it was abandoning the school-based health center business and would no longer staff Marquette’s health center. 

That’s a lot for any school to deal with, but especially one that occupies such a critical position as Marquette with its large student body. In a sense, it was too big to fail. 

Jeff Bartow, SWOP's executive director, has been a big proponent of the value Marquette, and its health center, bring to Chicago Lawn residents.

And it didn’t. Today, Marquette has jumped two levels in CPS’s rating system, to 2+. Student test scores are improving fast (among the top 10 percent of schools district wide) and Esperanza, a health care provider, operates Marquette’s health center, providing services not only to students but to many neighborhood residents as well. 

A prescription for success

How did that happen? As with many instances of neighborhood and educational change, it’s hard to say exactly. But there’s little doubt that the relationship between the school and the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP), a Chicago Lawn-based community organization, forged through LISC’s Elev8 program, helped on several levels. 

“It would have been a terrible impact if the health center and school had closed,” said Jeff Bartow, SWOP’s executive director. “Families would have to send kids to other schools, across major streets. It would have left shuttered an entire block in a neighborhood just beginning to respond to the devastation of the foreclosure crisis.” 

SWOP, whose work generally involves supporting Chicago Lawn institutions, ranging from hospitals to schools to housing providers, has been essentially embedded in Marquette (through Elev8) since 2008, helping to initiate and run after school activities, parent-mentor programs, the health center, and other activities designed to create a stronger bond between the school and the community it serves. When the turnaround occurred, Elev8 was the only program that provided a link between the new school and the old. 

Shoshanah. Yehudah, right, was Marquette's Elev8 director when it was identifield as a turnaround school. The good relations she established prior to the turnaround went a long way in ensuring a smooth transition.

SWOP’s Shoshanah Yehudah, who became the Elev8 director at Marquette in 2010, arrived just as the school’s sands began to shift. 

“They were going through a transition then,” she said. “You could feel the tension. Folks were unsure what leadership looked like. Teachers were struggling to improve the school, but they didn’t know if they had any support. Then, suddenly, the turnaround happened, and they wondered why they hadn’t received the resources they needed to turn it around themselves.”

Meanwhile, the AUSL crew moved in amid an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust. 

“You don’t expect to be well received,” said LaTarsha Green, the new assistant principal under AUSL who has since become Marquette’s principal. “It was tense. The words ‘underperforming’ and ‘failing schools’ have meaning for children and the people coming to work, trying to do the right thing. You could just feel the despair.”

Green, a product of the Chicago Public Schools as a student, a teacher and an administrator, was no stranger to turnarounds. She’d been involved in one at Morton, an elementary school on the West Side. But that school was small – about 300 students and a staff of 25. Marquette was a different league. 

LaTarsha Green, Marquette's principal and a former CPS student and teacher, has a good feeling about the direction Marquette is going, but warns against being complacent. 

“I remember greeting children and the kids would just look away,” she said. “No eye contact. They wouldn’t speak. They weren’t ready to trust us.” 

Part of instilling that trust involved working with SWOP, which had connections with students and parents. Initially, SWOP and AUSL weren’t sure what to expect from each other.


Health center was key

“When conversations with AUSL began, it was the parents who said AUSL should talk to SWOP,” said Yehudah. “And they (AUSL) reached out to us for a meeting. After that we were invited to their weeklong training before school started. We sat down with Principal Green (she was an assistant at the time). What really helped was SWOP being involved in saving the health center. That gave us some credibility. It showed that we have a level of influence that maybe you need.” 

The health centers, built at each of the five Elev8 schools (Marquette, Reavis, Orozco, Ames and Perspectives Calumet), were a crowning achievement of the Elev8 program, offering students and neighborhood residents access to reliable, affordable health care. In a neighborhood like Chicago Lawn, with very few health centers, the Marquette facility was a big deal. For it to go out of business would have been a repudiation of the Elev8 principles and a major inconvenience for students and families who’d come to rely on it. 

When Brenda Bannor, a LISC health care consultant to Elev8, heard ACCESS was pulling the plug, she immediately called Bartow and Carlos Nelson (executive director of the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corp., the neighborhood partner at Perspectives Calumet, whose health center ACCESS was also giving up) and began assembling a transition team of community organizers, representatives of the Chicago Department of Public Health, Chicago Public Schools, and others to create a strategy that would keep the health center open. 

As a LISC health care consultant working through Elev8, Brenda Bannor was instrumental in finding a new health care provider for Marquette.

“We understand this is no longer part of your strategic plan,” Bannor, Bartow and Nelson told ACCESS. “We’re not going to argue that. But you can’t just leave us high and dry. You must stay until we find someone else." 

ACCESS agreed. “That wouldn’t have worked if I just called,” said Bannor. “They wouldn’t have taken my call. But they responded to Jeff and Carlos.” 

Elev8 partners next started beating the bushes for a new health care provider to staff Marquette’s center. They developed a list of criteria for new applicants, an informational packet and an interview protocol. Esperanza Health Centers, which operates clinics in the Little Village neighborhood, was among the candidates.

“We looked at it with some skepticism,” said Dan Fulwiler, Esperanza’s CEO. “We didn’t have a school-based health center. You can have a hard time making them work. In the summer, students are gone and so are your patients.” 

But Esperanza staff was aware that the zip codes of many of their patients at the Little Village centers corresponded to Marquette’s Chicago Lawn neighborhood. 

“It’s a health care desert down there,” said Fulwiler. “Our strategic plan called for us to expand to the south, but we hadn’t gotten far in the thinking process.”

Esperanza kicked the tires, talked to school officials, SWOP, and LISC. It brought its board members to the school. “We were sold on the level of commitment from the school and SWOP,” he said. “They were in it for real. LaTarsha was there for every meeting. We knew her support would be there.” 

Dan Fulwiler, CEO of Esperanza Health Centers, was initially skeptical about getting into the school health center business. But since Esperanza moved into Marquette, students and neighborhood residents have been taking full advantage of the center.

Esperanza enlisted one of its nurse practitioners to set up shop at Marquette. She informed her Chicago Lawn patients she would be there. And Esperanza notified all of its clients that it was moving into Marquette. Meanwhile, Atlantic Philanthropies, Elev8’s funder, provided additional support to get Esperanza up and running. 

The center, said Fulwiler, hit its budget numbers within four months. Nearly 70 percent of its patients are neighborhood residents. The others are students, almost all of whom are insured.

“It’s not just a doc in the box,” he said. “You can’t just expect people to come in. That’s why SWOP is so useful. A big part of school-based health centers is getting consent (from parents so children can be treated). SWOP was very helpful.” 

For LaTarsha Green, who hadn’t previously worked at a school with a health center, Esperanza has been a boon. When she arrived at Marquette, 800 kids were not in compliance with required vaccinations. Now they all are. 

“Plus, we have the dental van,” she said. “You come to Marquette, you get glasses, you get your teeth fixed, you learn to cook, you work out. It’s one-stop shopping.” 

Community partner helps

None of which would have been possible, she added, without a community partner. “From my vantage point, it’s exactly what all schools should have,” she said. “It was nice having Elev8 and SWOP here. They knew the context. Like the kids, they wanted to know what we were all about. They were skeptical of us, and we of them. But I’ve been totally blessed having that collaboration.” 

Marquette’s hardly out of the woods. “The turnaround,” said Green, “is a moment in time. If you aren’t careful, conditions that create underperformance are still in your school. They’re in remission. We’re building the machine as we go, while it’s moving.” 

Neighborhood schools, says SWOP's Jeff Bartow, are "places where all members of the community can come together, through the health center or parent mentor programs, where immigrants and African American parents can share their experiences and learn the basic skills of public life.”

But there’s a palpable sense of energy and optimism in Marquette’s halls that was lacking pre-turnaround. Green is a strong, charismatic presence. Yehudah, who’s now working part-time at SWOP while attending graduate school, has turned the Elev8 reins over to Jamillah Rashad, who previously worked for AUSL. 

“There was a constant churning at Marquette,” said Bartow, “but that’s led to a new stability, a new sense of possibility. There’s a renewal of confidence and trust in leadership. And it’s a great thing that 70 percent of the health center patients are from community.” 

Local schools, he said, are obviously important for what they can provide children. “But they’re also places where all members of the community can come together, through the health center or parent mentor programs, where immigrants and African American parents can share their experiences and learn the basic skills of public life.”

Written by LISC Chicago

July 27th, 2015 at 6:00 pm

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Wicker Park, Bucktown Home Values Spike After Bloomingdale Trail Opens

David Hilowitz


Just weeks after the opening of the newly-transformed Bloomingdale Trail, known as The 606, thousands of homeowners in Wicker Park and Bucktown are seeing their property valuations soar.

Home owners are reporting seeing whopping 30-60 percent increases in their home values this year in housing value reassessments handed out by Cook County officials. The county last assessed the values of these homes in 2012.

About 107,000 homeowners received their new valuations in the mail this month, according to DNAinfo, and they have until Aug. 17 to appeal the assessments. If they don't appeal, they are likely to see their property taxes spike in the coming year too. That could mean more annual housing costs for homeowners and increased rents for renters.

The median sale price for a home in the city's West Township, which encompasses some of its most popular West Side neighborhoods, has gone up 34 percent for condos and 12.3 percent for other types of residences, according to a release from the office of Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios.

"There is every indication that the tax rate will be significantly increased this year," Gary H. Smith, a property tax lawyer, told DNAinfo.

While some new homeowners, posting on the local forum Everyblock, say their new valuations are more in-line with the above-value prices they paid for their home in 2013, 2014 or 2015, other longtime area homeowners say they are afraid of being slapped with outsized property taxes that could force them to sell.

One homeowner told Chicagoist the valuation on his townhouse, at the intersection of Rockwell and Bloomingdale avenues, went up over 80 percent this year—from $243,000 to $445,000.

"I'm not sure how that lower valuation came to be, as units never sold for that amount when the development was built in 2001, or at the bottom of the market a few years ago," he said in an email.

Some affordable housing advocates have warned that increases in property values, and by extension property taxes, are likely to lead to massive rent hikes in the area, which has already seen significant boosts in rent in recent years. The Logan Square Neighborhood Association, for example, has been pushing Berrios's office to support property tax abatement measures or even offer exemptions to longtime homeowners. Advocates of this plan worry that the construction and opening of the Bloomingdale Trail have spurred the increase in home prices, but homes across West Town, even those more than a mile away from the trail, are affected.

Written by Logan Square Neighborhood Association - Latest news

July 27th, 2015 at 6:00 pm

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Fair Housing’s Giant Two Steps Forward

It’s a rare moment when two branches of our federal government take major steps to expand opportunity for all Americans.  But, with relatively little fanfare, that’s what’s happened over the last few weeks in the critical area of housing. First, on June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court held that if a housing policy seriously disadvantages one gender, racial, religious or ethnic group, families with children, or people with disabilities, that policy is illegal unless there is an important justification for the policy. That principle, known as “disparate impact,” has been integral to the Fair Housing Act’s protections for over four decades, but this was the High Court’s first time considering it.

Written by Rooflines

July 27th, 2015 at 5:00 pm

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We Know Whose Fault Poverty Is—So Why Do Our Terms Blame the Poor?

Shelterforce began, 40 years ago, as a newspaper for tenant organizers. They were legal aid lawyers and similar rabble rousers in small cities in Northern New Jersey, wanting to connect to other folks doing similar work across the country: organizing groups of tenants to stand up to their landlords about horrendous living conditions, fighting for policies that protected tenants. We have expanded over the years, as many of those same people have moved into deploying the resources they fought for, and have moved to looking at the intersections of all the different factors that relate to empower or disempower low-income people and to create places that tend to be healthy, empowering places to live, or not. These things are great. But periodically, we all need to be reminded that this was a movement started to acheive justice, not to extend charity or moralizing, and having had that reminder, to reexamine our programs and our philosophies for drift. Recently I have read two searing articles that I think everyone who works in the field should read, closely, and really sit with.  One is "Resilience Is Futile: How Well-Meaning Nonprofits Perpetuate Poverty" by Melissa Chadburn, which talks about the trend toward examining and trying to improve poor people's "resilience" in the face of challenges that are structural and political. What the resilience preachers look for is a person to be unchanged in the face of trauma. But I would argue that this is impossible, that people are always changed by trauma, and furthermore, that we ought to be. Rather than shift ourselves to change what is, the foundations that fund these initiatives would be better off addressing the gaps, filling the lacks, changing what isn’t. Chadburn shows, using her own experience, both growing up poor and working at a nonprofit taking this approach, the absurdity of assuming that the problem is that people who are being screwed are not resilient enough. There is, for sure, value in understanding trauma and how to work with and support trauma-survivors (I think this project is pretty good on that), and in recognizing how many traumas poverty deals out. But by slipping into making a certain kind of resilience, as opposed to reducing the causes of poverty and trauma, the goal becomes a serious problem. The other article, even closer to home for many of our readers, is Maya Dukmasova's stirring argument that we need to ditch the term "concentrated poverty" because it puts the blame for the problems in poor areas on the presence of many poor people themselves, rather than on the forces that isolate people there and deprive them of public amenities and opportunities:

Written by Rooflines

July 23rd, 2015 at 3:00 pm

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Active Trans tracks stalled Ashland BRT


EVA members voted in 2014 to oppose the CTA's Ashland Bus Rapid Transit plan.

East Village Association board minutes for July 13, 2015, by Michael VanDam

Ashland BRT

A representative from the advocacy group Active Transportation Alliance would like to speak to the group to “get the temperature” of our views on the Ashland Bus Rapid Transit project. Considering that no new information has been released and no plans announced, Brian Foote and Catherine Garypie will reach out to try and get a better sense of the request.

Club Foot proposal

The person interested in opening a new venture at the Club Foot location, 1824 W. Augusta Blvd., sent responses to the developer questionnaire EVA requires for development requests. Dan Johnson will forward to the board for review.

White paper

Neal McKnight suggested that we should update the development white paper to reflect current neighborhood issues, since the most recent draft is now five years old. Changes will be reviewed with general membership before the paper is presented to aldermen Proco Joe Moreno and Brian Hopkins.

West Town Chamber Neighborhood Group Meeting

Dan Johnson and Michael VanDam reported on an event put on by the West Town Chamber of Commerce with representatives from local neighborhood groups. The meeting offered them the opportunity to explain their group and to network with other organizations. Board members agreed that we should create more opportunities to share best practices and work on issues with other groups in the larger West Town area.

The chamber also introduced the West Town Community Alliance, a new initiative to record residents and business owners' opinions on community issues.

Street Cleaning

With the change in wards and aldermen, there has been some confusion about street cleaning schedules and signage. We will reach out for updated schedules when available.

August Block Party

We are looking at a tentative date of Aug. 29 for the East Village Block Party. More details will be available soon.

Attendees: N. McKnight, C. Garypie, D. Johnson, M. VanDam, S. Rynkiewicz.

Written by Webmaster

July 23rd, 2015 at 12:39 am

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Financial Opportunity Centers – Video Series Wrap

Once unemployed, Nicole Richards found her footing at a Financial Opportunity Center operated by Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc. (POAH). 

Nicole Richards was once a client of the Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc.'s Financial Opportunity Center in Woodlawn. She now works there.

Photos by Gordon Walek

After graduating from a program in which she received a comprehensive bundle of financial services, she was hired at the very same Center and now assists her Woodlawn neighbors in securing employment and planning for their economic futures. 

Farther north, Paul Fountain worked with his financial coach at the Safer Foundation to establish a bank account and budget expenses to allow for long-term wealth accumulation. 

In Bronzeville, Tyrika Hogans worked with The Cara Program to develop a financial plan, find stable employment, and feel confident about her daughter’s transition from high school to college. 

These stories were among many chronicled in a recently completed LISC Chicago video series. Through multiple installments, the project allowed for an inside look at LISC’s network of Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) – organizations on the front lines of the effort to bring financial literacy, career development, financial coaching, digital-skills training, credit building and income support services to neighborhoods in need.

Individual videos from the series can be viewed through the following links:

For more than a decade, the LISC Chicago network of Financial Opportunity Centers – previously known as Centers for Working Families (CWF) – has helped cultivate healthy neighborhoods by providing residents with the knowledge they need to stabilize their finances and build on prior successes.

Kelwin Harris instructs clients at the St. Sabina Employment Resource Center's computer room in Auburn Gresham.

For many people struggling with long-term unemployment, chronic debt, and a lack of budgeting skills, simply securing a job often isn’t enough to move beyond the hurdles associated with poverty. As a result, the Financial Opportunity Center model strives to provide wrap-around services including employment services, public benefits screening and individualized financial coaching in order to set the stage for sustainable economic wellness.

Each of the 13 Chicago Centers are operated by local nonprofits with an intimate understanding of their target communities. 

Financial Opportunity Centers benefit from their relationship with LISC Chicago and the National LISC FOC Network. Specifically, they gain access to a nationwide network of nonprofit professionals working toward similar ends. When teamed with a wide array of funding opportunities, this pool of expertise allows for innovative efforts around financial literacy, digital competency and workforce development.

LISC Chicago and its FOC network worked with the City to implement the discounted Divvy Bike membership program for low- to moderate-income Chicagoans.

Among recent projects: The Financial Opportunity Center network collaborated with LISC Chicago and the City of Chicago to bring discounted Divvy Bike membership to low- to moderate-income Chicagoans across the city. 

Through this and other initiatives, the Financial Opportunity Center network and LISC Chicago are helping even more Chicagoans successfully reclaim their economic wellbeing.

The video series was supported in part by funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service through the Social Innovation Fund. 

For more information on the Financial Opportunities Centers, contact Jennifer McClain, jmcclain@lisc.org or (312) 422-9563.

Written by LISC Chicago

July 21st, 2015 at 6:00 pm

Posted in from the news feed

The Puzzle of Turning Vision into Action

Articulating a vision from the hopes and dreams of diverse community members is like piecing together a 250 piece jigsaw puzzle. Translating that vision into action steps in the course of a fast-paced development process is like assembling a puzzle when key pieces are missing and need to be created. Union United—a coalition dedicated to development without displacement in the culturally diverse and rapidly changing Union Square neighborhood of Somerville, Massachusetts —adopted this metaphor to guide its second annual strategic planning retreat. The Coalition’s tenants and homeowners, local business owners, and representatives of community and faith based organizations gathered in a church basement to put their community vision jigsaw puzzle together.

Written by Rooflines

July 21st, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Posted in from the news feed