on the Issues
diversity,equity & Incl.
I am committed to making the 46th Ward, and the City of Chicago, a safer place to live, work and play. Addressing crime in our community takes a multi-pronged approach to deal with not only how police respond to crimes, but addressing the historic disinvestment in communities across our city that are the root causes of crime and violence. This affects not just the 46th ward, but communities across our city.
Reinvesting in our communities. Increasing crime in our city is not just a result of a lack of violence prevention programming, but historic underinvestment in communities across the city. We underinvest in housing, job creation, education and economic opportunity. For communities to thrive, we need increased funding for our schools, housing for our families, good paying jobs, healthcare and safe and thriving infrastructure for neighborhoods. We need to expand the earned income pilot program and double down on our investments in these communities. In the 46th Ward, we need to provide greater support to our schools and ensure that Uplift Community High School can grow and support families in our community. As Alderwoman, I will prioritize allocating funds to increase after school programming and additional funds for violence prevention programs in the ward.
Staffing. Fully staffing the 19th and 20th Police Districts is an urgent priority. There are over 1,500 vacant positions across the police department and sworn officers are being pulled off their beats to fill administrative roles. Staffing levels have adversely impacted our ability to patrol our streets, get out of patrol cars to engage with residents in the neighborhoods and inhibited our ability to fully comply with the federal consent decree to ensure there is training, supervision and accountability within CPD. We must be creative in developing new strategies for recruitment to fill these vacant positions, and I would urge new incentives to ensure CPD is able to hire the best and brightest to serve and protect.
Compassionate contact and mental health response. I have experienced first hand the challenges, and related trauma, of solely relying on law enforcement to respond to non-violent, mental health related calls to 911. As a family member of someone with severe mental health issues, I know what it is like to make these calls and hope that the response is one of assistance and compassion. Police officers often do not have the training needed to respond to these calls and the resources available to law enforcement are too limited – either the ER or jail. The Cook County Jail is de facto the largest mental health facility in the state, which is unacceptable. As a city, state and nation we spend billions to incarcerate those with mental health issues, and not nearly enough on the treatment and long term housing they so desperately need. I want to be a part of changing that system.
As Alderwoman I will be a champion for an expansion of the pilot programs that reroute nonviolent mental health 911 calls to mental health crisis providers who can provide the compassionate care and medical assistance needed to provide not only short term, but long term care options for those in crisis. If successful, these pilot programs should be made permanent.
Investing in violence prevention. It is unconscionable that only $5 million of the $85 million budgeted in 2022 for violence prevention and victim support has been spent. I will fight to double the annual funding for violence prevention and ensure that the City is held accountable for spending these dollars on proven community-led, evidence-based solutions.
Cultural change and training. Improving public safety also includes ensuring that everyone feels safe in their interactions with the police. As Alderwoman, I will fight to make sure our city is in full compliance with the federal consent decree and that policy changes are enacted to protect marginalized and minority communities, including the LGBTQ+ community and our Black and Brown neighbors. I will also create a 46th Ward Public Safety Committee that includes stakeholders from across the ward to meet regularly with District 19 and 20 leadership. I also plan to engage with the new elected police district council representatives who will help serve as eyes and ears of civilian police oversight.
Solving crimes. Trust is broken between communities and law enforcement when crimes are not solved. Over 10 percent of our detective positions are vacant – in addition to already having a lower number of detectives per capita when compared to other major municipalities. I will work to increase the number of positions dedicated to solving crimes in Chicago, and work to get the community more involved with police in solving crime. Chicago has community policing in name only. As Alderwoman, I will work day and night to get beat cops and neighbors working together to solve crimes.
Our homes are where we grow our families and build our dreams – but rising taxes, rent and housing prices threaten to break up the diverse fabric of our community. We need to have housing options for people at all income levels so we can maintain the diversity that makes the ward so special. As Alderwoman, I will keep the ward moving forward while not leaving people behind. I will support and introduce policies to help our neighbors stay in their homes and ensure new residents can afford to enter the housing and rental markets.
Increase the supply of affordable housing. We need to continue to increase the availability of planned and naturally occurring affordable housing in our community. When buildings are constructed or rehabbed, they need to provide affordable housing on site. The City of Chicago also needs a dedicated funding stream for affordable housing that is not dependent on market conditions. As Alderwoman, I will fight for the City to treat housing affordability like the crisis that is it.
Provide financial assistance for maintaining existing housing stock. The City’s programs to provide financial support to repair and maintain their homes is woefully underfunded. I will work to increase funding for the Home Repair Program and Small Accessible Repairs for seniors and advocate for the creation of additional programs to fund the preservation and repair of affordable housing.
Remove barriers and red tape that inhibit the growth and development of affordable housing. We need to make it easier at every level of government to develop and maintain affordable housing. We also need to expand programs that incentivize not only the development of low income housing, but incentivize landlords to provide additional Section 8 housing units.
Reduce reliance on property taxes. Skyrocketing property taxes have been forcing homeowners out of their communities they have lived in for generations and making homeownership an even more distant dream for many trying to enter the housing market. And renters are not immune – the latest property tax bills significantly impacted apartment buildings which will lead to increased rent.
Sixty percent of our property tax bill is used to fund our schools. The State of Illinois needs to provide more funding for Chicago Public Schools so that our property taxes are not footing the majority of the bill – and preserving an inequitable status quo for our schools where a child’s ZIP code determines the quality of their education.
The current mechanism for community engagement on development is the 46th Ward Zoning Committee. This committee neither reflects the diversity of the ward nor the interest of many neighbors. We need to ensure that this board is truly reflective of our community, and all voices are heard and represented. As Alderwoman, I will work with neighborhood stakeholders to determine the vision for this committee moving forward. This is not an alderman’s community zoning process – it’s all of ours.
Addressing the housing crisis is a top priority for me as Alderwoman and we need better solutions in Chicago that provide our unhoused neighbors with dignity and shelter. The issue of homelessness is very personal to me because my sibling is unhoused and suffering from mental illness. We can and should do more to address this urgent need.
Increase short-term and long-term housing. Since pre-COVID, we have lost 20-30% of our shelter beds while at the same time experiencing an increased number of unhoused individuals in the City. Yet almost $100 million in funds earmarked for emergency shelter and permanent housing had been unspent for FY2022. We need to immediately allocate these funds for the development of housing and ensure we have dedicated funds for housing every year in the budget.
In addition we need to increase funding for emergency relief services such as the Flexible Financial Fund and Rapid Re-Housing Program to help prevent homelessness.
Increase flex housing. I will work to expand The Flexible Housing Pool, which works directly with landlords to increase affordable housing in Chicago and provide support to residents to improve their quality of life and healthcare outcomes.
Change the intake process. Right now those who are unhoused need to call 311 to access services and wait hours in the cold for help to arrive. This needs to change as not all people have access to phones or are comfortable using them. I will work to increase intake options for people needing to access services including having our ward service office, and other government offices, available to help residents navigate these city services.
Bring dignity to the shelter system. We need to make sure our unhoused neighbors feel safe, welcome, and treated with dignity at all times, regardless of gender, LGBTQ+ identity or family status. I will work with local shelters to ensure they have the resources necessary to make shelters safe and welcoming. I will also work to provide more 24/7 housing resources so those in need of assistance don’t need to spend the majority of their time during the day waiting in line for a bed that night.
In addition to improving housing options for those experiencing homelessness, we need to dramatically improve services for those living with a mental illness. I am all too familiar with the recurring cycle of crisis, hospitalization and homelessness that occurs due to a lack of funding and coordination of services for mental health care. We always seem to have enough money to provide enough cells in jail to lock people up – but there never seems to be enough to provide long term solutions for care.
funding for evidence based services. In order to help those living with a mental illness get off the street they need wrap around services – not a short term hospital stay or incarceration. As Alderman I will fight for increased funding for evidence-based services like Assertive Community Treatment and mobile crisis response systems to provide the support networks individuals need after being stabilized.
Rebuild the City’s mental health infrastructure. All Chicagoans should have access to mental health care, regardless of whether they are insured or uninsured. As Alderwoman I will fight for increased access to care including trauma based support services in our schools to ensuring access to outpatient care services in every neighborhood.
Expand housing for long-term care. It is imperative that individuals living with mental illness have access to safe and affordable housing that provides the appropriate level of care and support. We have a shortage of supervised and partially supervised group housing options that provide supportive services and the care many need to avoid cycling in and out of homelessness. As Alderwoman I will work to develop financial incentives and programs to encourage the development of more supportive housing programs.
As your Alderwoman, I will be accessible to you. The ward office will offer timely responses to constituent requests, host evening and weekend hours, and have multiple ways to communicate with you. It is important to me that you will see me and my staff out in the community, listening and learning from you, and informing you about ward and city services.
Invest in innovative new technology. As Alderwoman, I will look to invest in new technologies to ensure we are responding to service requested in a timely manner. I will also use tools to ensure businesses have access to city resources and we can cut red tape wherever possible.
Accessibility. As Alderwoman, our office will host evening and weekend hours so those who cannot reach us during business hours still have access to the Aldermanic office. I will also work to reduce barriers to participation in community meetings. I will work to provide remote options, language translation and interpretation whenever possible.
Ward Walks. I will work with each block club to set up a regular schedule where myself and the 46th Ward staff will walk each block of the ward, so we can listen to our neighbors and respond to concerns in a timely fashion.
As the product of public education with a father who was a public school teacher for over 30 years, I want students in every corner of our ward to learn in safe, enriching schools that receive their fair share of resources from CPS and the State.
Save Uplift Community High School. CPS needs to fulfill many of the promises made when Uplift was created – including giving it a neighborhood designation and subsequently a natural stream of incoming students from the community.
Ensure equal access to resources. The quality of your education should not depend on your zipcode – and that is what happens in Chicago thanks to the state’s over reliance on property taxes to fund our schools and Chicago Public Schools’ budgeting formula.The state’s evidence-based funding model requires that money go to the neediest schools first. However, CPS has used a budgeting formula quite different from this. The CPS student-based budgeting formula allocates dollars on a per student basis to each school. The result is that it furthers school inequities. CPS needs to fund schools according to the EBF model. In FY2022 alone, CPS is only funded at 68% of what the state’s EBF says CPS needs to be “adequately funded” – leaving a shortfall of $1.8 billion.
The 46th Ward enjoys a multitude of transportation connections to the rest of the city–but there is significant room for improvement in accessibility and safety. Our efforts should focus on making streets safe for walking and biking and improving public transit.
Redefine the Drive. The proposed Redefine the Drive project involves improvement of seven miles of Lake Shore Drive and many of the proposed changes will dramatically impact the 46th Ward – from our green space, to our recreation areas to traffic and pedestrian safety. The project is too heavily focused on improving the Drive to accommodate more cars, instead of focusing on public transportation and other alternative methods of transportation. While the project is a state project and funded with federal dollars, as Alderwoman I will use my office to demand more public meetings and input on the project and work with state and federal officials to ensure any changes will be in the best interest of all residents of the 46th ward.
Advocate for Rehab of the Sheridan El Station. The rehabilitation and improvement of the CTA Wilson Red Line station was a major accomplishment for our community, with improvements to the Lawrence station and other north side stations underway. Meantime, the Sheridan El station is in desperate need of rehabilitation and accessibility improvements. I would advocate strongly for this station to be redeveloped under future CTA capital projects.
Hold CTA accountable. We need to hold the CTA accountable for scheduling delays and ghost buses across the ward that impede resident’s ability to get to work or other obligations in a timely fashion. The CTA must also address unsanitary and unsafe conditions on their trains and buses.
Pedestrian and Bike Safety. As Alderwoman I will shift our focus from how many cars we can get on our roads to how we can have safer streets for pedestrians and bicyclists. I will work closely with advocates for safe streets to ensure we are spending our Ward menu dollars wherever necessary to ensure safe streets.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
The diversity of the 46th Ward is truly its greatest strength and we must elevate the voices of Black and Brown people, of immigrants and refugees, and those from the LGBTQ+ community.
While some people give DEI principles lip service, they are exceptionally important to me and will be incorporated into all policies and programs in my aldermanic office. For too often, we have seen government services benefit the wealthy or best-connected, when instead, our government should be focused on meeting the needs of the historically-marginalized communities who need assistance the most. As we work to implement housing and economic development policy or provide government services and support to our social service partners, we know we can elevate and prioritize those who have been historically left behind.
Inclusive City Workplace for LGBTQ+ people. The 46th Ward has one of the highest populations of LGBTQ+ people in Chicago, and as your Alderwoman, I would advocate strongly on behalf of this community. This includes encouraging the City to have stronger inclusive workplace environment to ensure LGBTQ status is recognized in City hiring and ensuring that LGBTQ+ people feel welcome and supported in their work environment.
Update City Contracting to be Inclusive of LGBTQ+ people. Currently under study based on an ordinance passed by the City Council, as your Alderwoman, I would advocate to update City contracting for MWBE to also be inclusive of LGBTQ people.
Advocate for LGBTQ+ Resources. Many important social service organizations are providing services to LGBTQ+ youth, seniors, as well as people who are transgender, living with HIV/AIDS or who are homeless. Yet many of these organizations need additional resources to ensure needs are met. As your Alderwoman, I would advocate for and champion new City resources for the LGBTQ+ community organizations so that important institutions like Howard Brown, Center on Halsted, Chicago House, TPAN, AIDS Foundation of Chicago and others can better serve the diverse needs of the community.
Climate and the Environment
Climate change already affects our city: extreme rainfall floods and heat waves are just two of the increasingly-severe impacts. We must prepare–and do our part to cut the carbon pollution fueling climate change–by investing in green infrastructure, clean energy, and low-carbon transportation options. The City also still suffers from air pollution, waste, and recycling problems, and unequal access to green space.
Recreate a Department of Climate and Environment.
We must have a dedicated department on Climate and the Environment. Since the department was eliminated in a prior administration, environmental issues are spread across multiple departments leading to a lack of accountability. We also have departments handling climate change issues who do not have expertise in these areas. If we want to be a leader in protecting our environment this must be the first step we take in the next term for environmental protections.
Compared to other major municipalities Chicago is far behind with our recycling outcomes. Our city generates more than 4 million tons of waste every year – but the last analysis found that recycling only diverted between 8-9% of the trash produced from landfalls. Los Angeles recycles 76% and Seattle recycles 60% for comparison. We need to overhaul city policies on tagging recycling bins as “contaminated” where the entire bin is sent to the landfill and provide greater consumer education on what can and cannot be recycled. We also need to enforce the city’s recycling ordinance with commercial properties.
Ensure environmental justice for marginalized communities .
There are great inequities in access to clean air and water in the City of Chicago. The City needs to to look at the creation of special zoning districts where the priority is addressing environmental justice and reducing the cumulative impact of industrial pollution, increased truck traffic and other environmental stressors in marginalized communities.
Expedite Lead Pipe Repairs and Replacement
Chicago has more lead water service pipes than anywhere else in America. One out of every 20 tests found lead at or above acceptable levels. Lead is an irreversible neurotoxin and the fact that our city has replaced so few lines over the last four years is unconscionable. This is a public health emergency – and the city has failed. The City should consider any and all financing models to accelerate and complete lead service line replacement, including federal aid (especially the designated funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law), bonds, cost-sharing programs, and low-interest loans to property owners. These replacements should be done en masse in neighborhoods to achieve economies of scale. In addition, we need to expedite the permitting process for line replacements and increase funding for the equity replacement program
Finally, the City should convene a planning process involving city agencies, private utilities, telecommunications companies, and anyone else who might need to replace infrastructure that runs beneath or along streets. Coordinating projects will not only reduce unnecessary spending on repeatedly ripping up and replacing pavement and sidewalks, it will also reduce inconvenience to neighborhood residents and businesses.
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