On July 15, the Chicago Plan Commission unanimously approved the Reconnecting Neighborhoods Plan, with an overwhelmingly positive response from the commissioners.
On July 15, the Chicago Plan Commission unanimously approved the Reconnecting Neighborhoods Plan, with an overwhelmingly positive response from the commissioners. While MPC already knew this plan had widespread community support, thanks to the integrity of the process and strong leadership from residents, private sector stakeholders, elected officials, and public sector partners, the commissioners eagerness to explore ways for the city to support implementation came as a pleasant surprise.
Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd Ward) and MPC Community Building Manager Joanna Trotter testified in support of the plan, after Benet Haller, director of urban design and planning for the Chicago Dept. of Community Development, (DCD) provided an in-depth presentation of Reconnecting Neighborhood’s innovative community planning process and resulting recommendations. These public testimonials were complemented by supportive letters from a cross-section of leaders, including Reconnecting Co-Chair and ShoreBank Vice Chairman Todd Brown; Lewis Jordan, CEO, Chicago Housing Authority; Steve DeBretto, Executive Director, Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago; Joseph Williams, Co-Chairman, Granite Companies; and, Linda Brace, Vice President of Development, Holsten Development.
In the six months since the public relesase of the plan, in December 2008, MPC has been hard at work promoting the recommendations among many local and national partners. Reconnecting Neighborhoods was featured in a National Housing Conference mobile workshop tour in June, led by MPC, Quad Communities Development Corporation, Chicago Housing Authority, and the Chicago DCD. Reconnecting Neighborhoods has also been featured during the discussions with national thought leaders, such as Don Chen of the Ford Foundation and Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution. The plan will be featured in the Upper Midwest American Planning Association Conference this fall, and has been nominated for an American Planning Association Illinois Chapter Strategic Plan Award.
Spending billions of federal dollars to transfom public housing without appropriate transit investments to ensure residents have quality transportation, job and retail options nearby is just one example of why federal investment reform is needed. As such, MPC featured this project as a case study the white paper to rethink the way federal funding is allocated. Central to this reform is improved interagency coordination based on goal-oriented outcomes, to coordinate dollars in a way that strengthens the viability of local communities.
MPC hopes to position Illinois to be competitive for some of the new government and philanthropic resources encouraging housing-transportation-jobs coordination, particularly in the form of Illinois HB 4590, Transportation Investment Accountability Act, introduced by Ill. Rep. Kathy Ryg (D-Vernon Hills) and the Sustainable Communities Initiative outlined in the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development budget, which will support communities as they work to coordinate housing, transportation, and energy efficiency. Please ask your state legislators to support the HB 4590 to reform the way Illinois funds capital investment projects in order to better compete with the new goal-driven federal objectives, such as those outlined in the HUD Sustainable Communities Initiative. These notable opportunities will be discussed in depth at MPC’s Annual Luncheon on September 17, featuring Shaun Donovan, secretary, U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development; Ray LaHood, secretary, U.S. Dept. of Transportation; and, Lisa Jackson, administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.