Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Crain's: Here's how to reverse the damage of segregation

Published in Crain's Chicago Business on Tuesday morning:
The [Metropolitan Planning 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. 
• 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.

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