Today, the Chicago City Council will hear an ordinance that would make banks that own vacant buildings secure their properties and pay up on their delinquent registration fees. That ordinance, supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, is a direct result of a Chicago Reporter investigation.
Most every day, I struggle with the same question many city-dwellers do: If someone on the street asks you for money, do you give it to them or just pass by?
A study out of the United Kingdom is telling us something pretty surprising. Giving can work, but not just the spare change you have in your pocket. For giving to work, it shows, it has to be large, specific and continual. The results of the small study show that if the gift is right, it could just get that person from a street corner back into regular life.
How many times have you looked at a CTA map? Dozens, maybe hundreds, of times? Neat lines and colors, categorizing our city into eight colors and 144 dots.
But what if that map told you more about the people who lived there than just how to get to your destination?
I was reading through a Stateline news piece on welfare this week and I got to this line at the end:
"But a growing concern is that no one really knows how the state and federal TANF money is being spent."
Um, what? That concerned me. According to the piece, the federal Government Accounting Office figures that 71 percent of all the money spent on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families-- TANF, a.k.a. welfare-- is being spent on stuff that's not "cash assistance."
What happens to a poor family when they get kicked off welfare? 3,000 Illinois families may find out as of July 1st if the state goes ahead with its proposal to cut the budget by reducing the time limit for receiving cash assistance from five years to just three.
Chalonda McIntosh doesn't often take the day off work. But she will tomorrow, when she'll head down to Springfield to protest cuts and funding shortages to the state's child care subsidy program for low-income families.
I talked to McIntosh back in November when I was doing a story about the lack of child care centers around the Cabrini-Green neighborhood where she lives. McIntosh sends her youngest son, Raleigh, to the St. Vincent DePaul’s child care center on North Halsted Street in Lincoln Park, and uses Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) vouchers to help her pay for it.
Vacant homes are trouble. There's no doubt about it. From attracting squatters, falling into disrepair or lowering home values, there's not a neighborhood in this city that doesn't have empty homes creating problems. More are piling onto the market every day, with little hope of a quick recovery.
Look at any area of the city's 2012 budget, as proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and you won't see any bite larger than from the area labeled "community services."
Most section of the budget is getting cut. Finance and administration down by 3.1 percent..