Policy reform is rarely easy, in part because excuses for maintaining the status quo are just too readily available: “Who’s going to pay for it?” “The political appetite just isn’t there.” And the perennial favorite, “Well, it’s an election year …”
Of course, the irony is that during an election year, voters are tuned into the political process and primed for change. This is precisely the time to talk about what’s possible, what’s necessary, and what’s doable. That’s why this fall, MPC is hosting a series of roundtables that highlight new approaches to planning, financing and implementing regional development, such as using value capture to fund transit investments, and putting technology to use to improve how cities and regions plan for people.
At MPC, we are fortunate to work in partnership with many of the region’s most effective nonprofit and civic organizations. One that’s invaluable to us is the Latino Policy Forum, which transforms public policies to benefit our region’s growing Latino community – and, in turn, the region. Their work helps MPC understand how metropolitan Chicago’s changing demographics impact some of our core issues – and vice versa – including maintaining a balanced housing stock, strengthening the economy, and providing quality transportation options, in the city and suburbs.
For instance, the Forum has reported extensively on the disproportionate effect foreclosures have had on Latinos in our region. Latinos accounted for half the overall increase in owner-occupied homes in metropolitan Chicago over the last decade and were hit hard by foreclosures; filings continue to rise in Latino communities.
Even as pundits debate the benefits of owning versus renting a home, this topic, and others that merit special attention this election year, including education and the economy, will be on the agenda at the Latino Policy Forum’s Policy Breakfast, “Latinos, the Deciding Vote,” on Oct. 9, in Chicago. I’m looking forward to what’s sure to be a lively keynote address from Dr. Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, senior analyst, Latino Decisions, the nation’s premiere Latino polling organization. In a panel discussion facilitated by Greg Hinz, columnist for Crain’s Chicago Business, two Illinois Senators— Senate President John Cullerton (D – 6th District) and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R – 41st District)—will provide a bipartisan, state-level perspective on the emerging political clout of the Latino community. I hope to see you there – register by Sept. 25 for the early bird rate!