Metropolitan Planning Council issues recommendations on racism, segregation in Chicago – Consumer News

on May15

15 May 2018 | 10:00 am

Two dozen initiatives and programs have the power to reverse Chicago’s history of racism and segregation and plow $8 billion into the local economy each year.

That’s the conclusion of the Metropolitan Planning Council, which this morning released 24 recommendations to restore financial equity to Chicagoans and neighborhoods most affected by segregation and racism. The recommendations dismantle institutional barriers to racial equity and launch plans and policies that promote equity. They cover bases from housing and transportation to the criminal justice system and at the city, county, regional and state levels. “We focused on racism and the inequity that fuels it,” says MarySue Barrett, president of the Metropolitan Planning Council, noting that segregation is a byproduct of racism. “Racial equity is the root goal.”

Barrett says the recommendations aim to reverse three losses in affected communities—that of income, life and opportunities such as education.

The council used the help of 110 advisers and experts to draw up the recommendations, all of which view the city through “the lens of racial equity,” Barrett says. Among the recommendations:

•Enact a city earned income tax credit for working households, to augment state and federal earned income tax credits. This would generate $218 million in spending from working families, according to the study.

•Reduce local control over affordable housing decisions. If a ward has less than 10 percent affordable housing, a city council member shouldn’t have the ability to reject or delay proposed residential developments that have affordable housing components.

•Increase Chicago Housing Authority vouchers to expand options for affordable housing. Expanding the vouchers to 200 percent of fair market rent in certain areas could add 3,377 more housing units to the market.

•End criminal justice system policies that adversely affect poor people. Among these is requiring a money bond for minor offenses, as people who can’t afford bond can spend months or even years in jail while awaiting trial. Eliminating unnecessary pretrial detention could save $198 million a year. The report also suggests implicit-bias training for all involved in the criminal justice system.

These steps are “absolutely critical,” says Sharlyn Grace, senior policy analyst at Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice and head of its Coalition to End Money Bond. The pretrial criminal justice system, in the form of bail and other court fees and costs, extracts “a lot of money from our most vulnerable communities,” Grace says. She notes progress has been made on this front. In September, Cook County Circuit Court Chief Judge Timothy Evans ordered judges to set bail at an affordable amount. The move has cut to 2,500 from 4,000 the number of people in jail awaiting trial because they couldn’t afford bond. Still, there’s work to do: “We need to change practices in the courtroom,” Grace says, noting that people who await trial in jail are more likely to be convicted, and get longer sentences, than those out on bond.

•Use equity as a key factor, along with safety, delay reduction and ridership, when making transportation decisions in the Chicago metro area. “The South Side doesn’t have the same level of rapid transit service,” says Kate Lowe, assistant professor of urban planning and policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, one of the 110 advisers who worked on the recommendations. “Extending the Red Line would help.” Transportation, she adds, intersects with all the systems that shape residents’ lives: jobs, education, health care and employment.

Put into place over two years, the recommendations could add $4.4 billion in income for African-American communities, which would in turn generate $8 billion for the local economy. The measures would add 83,000 bachelor’s degrees and reduce homicides by 30 percent. If nothing is done, and the city continues on its current trajectory of segregation, income disparity will widen: The area will see a 17 percent drop in its African-American population, a 12 percent rise in the number of households earning below $30,000 a year, and a 42 percent increase in households earning more than $125,000 a year.

The proposals follow a 2017 study that measured Chicago against 100 metro regions nationwide. Chicago has the fifth-highest combined racial and economic segregation and the 10th-highest African-American-white segregation, according to Urban Institute Research.

The Metropolitan Planning Council has spent $1.2 million over two years on the two studies. Funders include the Chicago Community Trust and the MacArthur Foundation.

More:

The price Chicago pays for segregation

Chris Kennedy: Emanuel is not a racist but his policies are

“Appalling” racism in Evanston



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