Race and poverty roundup: See ya G8, foreclosure crisis hits churches and Honda comes under pressure

What's moving in the world of race and poverty, on Chicago Muckrakers weekly.

In a gasp heard around the city, Chicagoans found out that the long-planned G8 summit would no longer be held in Chicago. Instead, the leaders of the world's most powerful nations will meet at Camp David. Occupy Chicago celebrated with a victory party, but some groups are still concerned. Two controversial summit ordinances, passed in aniticpation of the two summits, will remain in effect for NATO's visit to Chicago come May. And, the Chicago Reader points out, the city is still paying for the summit out of pocket.

Churches are the latest casualty of America's foreclosure crisis--they are part of the newest wave of property seizures, Reuters reported. Many banks are no longer willing to give religious communities that have defaulted on their mortgages any leeway. In 2010, only 24 churches were sold by banks. In 2011, that number skyrocketed to 270, "with 90 percent coming after a lender-triggered foreclosure."

The announcement that two of Chicago's most highly polluting coal plants will close by 2014 has left residents of Pilsen and Little Village breathing easy. The victory comes after years of community engagement on the ground and protests against elevated levels of asthma among the neighborhood's mostly immigrant populations.

On April 30, the first closing of mental health clinics will hit Chicago neighborhoods. For now, protesters are still making their voices heard against the destruction they say will occur in the community when half of the city's clinics are forced to shut their doors. Protesters told Progress Illinois that "closings will result in 155 public employee layoffs and the rerouting of 1,300 mental health care patients to one of the six mental health clinics that will remain open."

Unemployment claims dropped this month, but  that doesn't mean that people have more money in their pocket, The Washington Post's Howard Schneider says. Personal income grew very little since January, suggesting that new jobs might not be making an immediate boost to households that have been hurting since the recession first began.

The community group Arise Chicago is hoping to help immigrants in Alabama with some local pressure. The group march to a Honda dealership calling for the company to publicly come out against the state's punitive immigration law HB56, which requires public schools to check the immigration status of students and threatens people giving undocumented people a ride with legal action. Honda's manufacturing operations are headquartered in Alabama.

© Community Renewal Society 2012

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