Tag Archives: West Side

Local Reporting awards for 2013

The second round of awards in the Local Reporting Initiative will back fourteen community news projects focusing on issues on the South and West Sides ranging from youth violence to realities facing the LGBTQ community in the criminal system.

Each project will receive $5,000 to support original reporting or data analysis from the Community News Matters program of the Chicago Community Trust.  The program is backed by CCT, the MacArthur Foundation and the McCormick Foundation.

Issues to be covered include subsidized housing, participatory budgeting in one Chicago ward, health care challenges facing veterans, the community impact of redevelopment of the U.S. Steel site, domestic violence and mental health in Back of the Yards, the impact of incarceration on Chicago communities, and school reform in Humboldt Park and Bronzeville.

Recipients range from established outlets like the Chicago Reporter and In These Times to grassroots projects like the Neighborhood Writing Alliance and Austin Talks, and include several freelance journalists.

The initiative is a response to findings of the 2010 Community News Matters study that found that residents of low-income South and West Side neighborhoods felt that traditional news outlets do not cover relevant issues in their communities.

To keep up with the latest output from the Local Reporting Initiative, follow the Community News Project blog.

Here are the recipients of the 2012 Local Reporting Awards:

  1. Chicago Reporter, to investigate Chicago’s Section 8 housing program;
  2. Windy City Times, to investigate the realities facing the LGBTQ community in the criminal legal system;
  3. In These Times, to explore participatory budgeting on Chicago’s 5th ward;
  4. Health and Disability Advocates, to document health care difficulties facing local military veterans;
  5. Bill Healy, to enhance the content and distribution of projects by fellow award winners;
  6. Kari Lydersen, to explore community impact of South side steel site redevelopment;
  7. The Gate, to explore domestic violence and mental health in the Back of the Yards community;
  8. Latinos Progresando, to document monologues by youth regarding Latino and American cultural perspectives;
  9. Austin Talks, to produce a video documentary about homicides of Chicago youth;
  10. Carlos Javier Ortiz, to produce a video documentary of youth violence at Stroger Hospital;
  11. Neighborhood Writing Alliance, to document the impact of incarceration among West and South side Chicago residents;
  12. Kalyn Belsha, to investigate leadership support for Latina women in Chicago;
  13. Amandillo Cuzan, to produce a video documentary on Bronzeville area schools;
  14. Westside Writing Alliance, to document the impact of school reform in the Humboldt/Garfield Park area.

West Side left out of city foreclosure program

Last week Mayor Emanuel announced a $20 million program to rehab and reoccupy foreclosed homes in nine neighborhoods.  At AustinTalks, Otis Monroe points out that Austin and North Lawndale aren’t part of it – traditionally “left-out communities” that have been left out again.

Indeed, not a single West Side community is included in the program.

In Austin, the same day the city program was announced, South Austin Coalition was releasing a report calling on banks to fix the housing crisis and the related economic collapse by writing down underwater mortgages to market value (see Newstips).  That would free up $70 billion a year in consumer spending, creating a million jobs a year, according to the New Bottom Line Campaign.

Yesterday a New York Times editorial backed up the report’s contentions:  “The economy will not recover until housing recovers — and that won’t happen without a robust effort to curb foreclosures by modifying troubled mortgage loans.

Instead of pushing the banks to do what is needed, the Obama administration has basically urged them to do their best to help, mainly by reducing interest rates for troubled borrowers…

Reducing principal is a better solution than lowering interest rates, because it reduces payments and restores equity. Bankers resist, because it could force them to recognize losses they would prefer to delay. The administration has resisted, in part because principal reductions are seen as rewarding reckless borrowers.

But many of today’s troubled borrowers were not reckless. Rather, they are collateral damage in a bust that has wiped out equity and hammered jobs, turning what were reasonable debt levels into unbearable burdens.

The Times urges action by regulators and by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to ease the rewriting of underwater mortgages.  The paper calls on President Obama to include “strong support for principal reductions and easier refinancings” in a forthcoming announcement on jobs — otherwise he “will not get at the root of the problem.”

SAC and NBL don’t focus on government; they argue it’s up to banks to rewrite mortgages – and they owe it to us, having received trillions in bailouts and backstops.  And right now they’re sitting on unprecedented cash reserves.

SAC chose a foreclosed home in Austin now being rehabbed by the Westside Health Authority in the first phase of a $2.4 million community restoration fund, won from U.S. Bank by the Coalition to Save Community Banking after the takeover of Park National Bank.

That shows that communities can pressure banks to step up and take responsibility – though it will take a lot more pressure to get banks to take full responsibility for their role in the collapse, especially with a political establishment that treats banks with kid gloves.

In any case, it shows that community groups on the West Side are acting to save their neighborhoods from the ravages of foreclosure, in the face of historic neglect – and that they merit more attention from the mayor.

Black Chicago Divided

  • A 17-year-old West Sider who goes to the Gold Coast to intimidate and steal (“We can get good stuff down there,” he says; “You can’t get no iPods or nothing like that on the West Side”).
  • A black nationalist activist who advocates concealed carry legislation to allow the black community to defend itself against crime.

Along with a range of activists from Chicago’s black community, these are some of the voices in Salim Muwakkil’s “Black Chicago Divided,” discussing long-smoldering class and generational conflicts that are intensifying as conditions worsen in communities like North Lawndale.

With devastating unemployment and crime rates, North Lawndale faces an “emergency situation,” says Mark Carter of Voice of the Ex-Offender.  Carter focuses on confronting established civil rights and black political leaders.  “The death and destruction in our community could not have happened without the black leadership elite’s cooperation,” he says.

Among the topics raised are Mayor Emanuel’s police redeployment efforts – many in the black community say “the mayor is taking aggressive action only  because most of the victims are white,” while the areas most in need continue to be neglected – and the shortfalls in a federal program to direct HUD spending to low-income workers and business.  (WBEZ’s Natalie Moore recently reported on complaints about HUD’s Section 3 program.)

“Black Chicago Divided” is the first in a series of in-depth features by Muwakkil, a senior editor at In These Times, investigating the lives of those African-American youth who have borne the brunt of the Great Recession; their plight is particularly acute in de-industrializing, segregated Chicago, Muwakkil says.