Chicago Northwest Side residents attended a town hall meeting Wednesday night to speak out against budget cuts and the "poverty wages" impacting their communities.
Those at the town hall, hosted by Communities United, formerly the Albany Park Neighborhood Council, called for progressive revenue options to tackle the city and state's fiscal issues and highlighted their support for a $15 hourly minimum wage in Chicago.
"Because of budget cuts, essential programs are being cut for our young people and community, and students are being denied educational programs," said Communities United leader Manolita Huber. "And because of poverty wages, low-wage workers can't even afford to pay the rent, let alone put food on the table."
Aldermanic candidates for the 31st Ward, including incumbent Ald. Ray Suarez (31st), debated Wednesday night and discussed their platforms for next month's municipal election.
Those challenging Suarez, who was first elected alderman of the Northwest Side ward in 1991, include lawyer and professor Sean Starr, former reporter Milagros Santiago and Irma Cornier, a community outreach coordinator at NewLife 316.
More than 50 residents of the ward, which includes portions of the Belmont Cragin, Portage Park, Hermosa and Logan Square neighborhoods, attended the debate hosted by the Belmont-Cragin United community organization.
Logan Square housing activists will kick off a series of community events this week on the topic of gentrification and its impact in the rapidly-changing Northwest Side neighborhood of Chicago.
The four-part gentrification discussion with residents, community groups, academics and others is being spearheaded by We Are/Somos Logan Square, a grassroots organization advocating for affordable housing and tenants rights. The group formed last January in response to the alleged displacement of longtime tenants in an apartment building acquired by M. Fishman & Co., a Logan Square property management firm that owns a number of properties in the gentrifying neighborhood.
The four events, running from this Wednesday through January 24, will touch on the history of gentrification and how it "actually works," its effects and what can be done to preserve racial and economic diversity in communities, with a focus on Logan Square, where property values and rents are escalating.
"Sometimes people think that gentrification is a natural force of some sort, but it really is not," said Amie Sell, outreach coordinator with We Are/Somos Logan Square.
Progress Illinois takes a closer look at the race for the 20th district state representative seat, which pits first-time candidate and law student Mo Khan against long-serving GOP incumbent Mike McAuliffe.
Leaders with Centro Autónomo in Albany Park say the group's effort to establish a community land trust to secure affordable housing in the northwest Chicago neighborhood is moving forward.
Centro Autónomo, also known as the Albany Park Autonomous Center, is currently asking financial institutions to donate local homes in foreclosure to its Casas del Pueblo Community Land Trust, a non-profit that wants to turn the properties into permanent affordable housing for low-income residents. Both Casas del Pueblo and the Centro Autónomo are projects of the Mexico Solidarity Network.
So far, no homes have been donated to the community land trust, which officially launched in 2011. But Antonio Gutierrez, housing coordinator at Centro Autónomo, said the organization has a negotiation session planned for September with Fannie Mae. Another meeting with a national representative of donations for Wells Fargo is scheduled for the end of August.
Gutierrez and others with the effort are optimistic the community land trust will receive its first donated home within the next several months.
"Casas del Pueblo needs to put as much pressure as we can right now [on the financial institutions], because this is a time when we're almost sure that we can get this donation by the end of the year," he said.