Archive for February 2011

Chicago man found frozen in unheated apartment. Is it time to cut energy assistance funding?

Reading through today’s headlines on the Tribune’s website, one stopped me in my tracks: Yes, frozen. Rowland Draper, 60, was found dead and frozen in his unheated North Side apartment. He was found the day after President Barack Obama’s budget came out, proposing to cut funding for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program that keeps... Read more »

Jails are the new asylums for women

If there’s one thing that Rosemary Gido wants her students to know, it’s this: “It’s not rocket science. Jails and prisons are the new asylums,” she says. As a professor of criminology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Gido has been studying how the criminal justice system treats two populations–women and the mentally ill–and how those... Read more »

Mayor's race: Did the media call the race, or create it?

Mayor's race: Did the media call the race, or create it?
I got a chance to talk to Chicago mayoral candidate Patricia Watkins shortly after former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun essentially called Watkins a crack head in a televised debate. “What were you thinking when she did that?” I asked. Watkins was short-answered and tight-lipped. But what’s clear, she said on “The Barber Shop Show,”... Read more »

Feds take a leaf out of Chicago's play book with tax benefits for wealthy neighborhoods

If you’ve heard complaints about Chicago’s Tax Increment Financing program, it’s probably this: a measures designed to help “blighted” neighborhoods is used to line the pockets of wealthy businessmen. But a new investigation from Bloomberg news says this kind of corruption isn’t just the Chicago way. Uncle Sam has now followed suit, shows Bloomberg, with... Read more »

What's your elected official doing to fight poverty?

It’s report card time. No, not for CPS students, but for Chicago lawmakers. The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law has put out a report card for every member of the U.S. House and Senate. The subject? What they’re doing to fight poverty. Nationwide, they found a trend that may or may not surprise... Read more »

New ordinance could cut affordable housing funds, advocates say

The Sweet Home Chicago coalition has one clear goal: put more money into creating affordable housing for the city. How? By guaranteeing that 20 percent of Chicago’s Tax Increment Finance dollars end up helping to fix up foreclosed properties or create new affordable housing. But the city’s alderman have been reticent. For months, the battle... Read more »

How many empty homes are sitting on your street? Find out.

There’s a building in my neighborhood I don’t walk by very often. I could. It’s right on the way, as I walk to an apartment of my friend, who lives just a few blocks from me. But I always choose to take another street. Why? Well, there’s a big vacant apartment building on that street.... Read more »

What do you really know about welfare? Take our quiz.

When people hear the word “welfare,” they usually have a strong gut reaction. What’s yours? Compassion for needy people? Anger at misspent taxpayer money? Frustration at a system that doesn’t seem to help anyone? Wanting to help but not quite sure what welfare really does? There’s a reason we have strong reactions. Welfare pushes the... Read more »

Counting the invisible man: finding black men for the census

It’s hard to count what you can’t see, and in the last census, black men went unseen and uncounted. In the 2000 U.S. Census, black men were undercounted at a rate of 7.67 percent. That might not sound so high, until you realize that white men were undercounted by .29 percent and black women at... Read more »

How Chicago counts the homeless

How Chicago counts the homeless
I thought I knew Lower Wacker. That was before I met Selena Ruiz. Back when I worked as a bicytaxi driver, I would end each night by locking  up my cab at the storage station underneath Wacker and Columbus, right  by a large group of homeless people. But Ruiz, who works for Homeless Outreach and... Read more »