Demonstrators interrupted Mayor Emanuel’s speech Wednesday morning during Crain’s #FutureChicago Conference to demand passage of the #KeepingThePromise Ordinance. Wealthy business leaders and other members of Chicago’s elite met to discuss the “future” of the city, but there was no seat at the table for those most affected by their policies. As more and more Chicagoans take up residence under viaducts or in tents, Rahm’s CHA continues to bulldoze and sell off public housing, all while sitting on nearly $450 million in unspent federal cash given to the city specifically for affordable housing. The language of “fiscal responsibility” is often used by those in power to hide policies that result in real human devastation.
Activists made this point by disrupting the Mayors remarks inside while demonstrators outside held a press conference and distributed information to passersby. Wednesday’s action sought to to raise the profile of the housing crisis facing low-income communities of color, who are being displaced from countless Chicago communities as market rents skyrocket and wages fail to keep pace. Just today, the MacArthur Foundation released a study showing that three-quarters of city residents believe we are still in the middle of the housing crisis or that the worse is yet to come. Inside the swanky Palmer House Hilton demonstrators – including Al, a 90-year-old World War II combat veteran – disrupted the Mayor as he addressed Chicago’s elite. Watch Below:
— Chicago Tenants (@TenantsRights) June 15, 2016
“The mayor is failing to keep the Plan for Transformation’s promises to rebuild public housing after demolition, instead continuing to demolish, convert, and privatize the city’s remaining public housing,” said Liz Brake of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus. “Unless the mayor changes course, he will deepen the city’s affordable housing crisis, which is displacing people of color. That’s not sustainable or equitable.”
By holding the Chicago Housing Authority to higher standards about CHA’s use of federal and city funds, we can literally provide housing to tens of thousands of Chicago families currently struggling to provide their children with a decent, stable home. According to CHA’s latest financial report (FY2012), the Chicago Housing Authority is sitting on surplus cash of more than $432 million— To put that in perspective, CHA’s cash stockpile is larger than the whole City of Chicago’s budget deficit for 2014.
Despite the insecurity and pessimism about the housing crisis, Chicago residents believe the situation can improve. MacArthur’s housing study found that 70% of city residents think a great deal can be done to solve the housing crisis. There is no one solution, but there are many things that we can do today to improve housing. First? We can pass the Keeping The Promise Ordinance now!
Thank you to all of the members of the Chicago Housing Initiative who participated in this action! For more information about this story or to get involved, please contact Philip at 773-292-4980 ext 246 or firstname.lastname@example.org