Sweeping changes recommended to counter negative and costly impacts of segregation - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Sweeping changes recommended to counter negative and costly impacts of segregation

Absent policy changes, regional growth will be uneven and income inequality will increase

(Chicago) … Recommendations released today by the Metropolitan Planning Council identified more than two dozen policies and interventions that can be implemented over the next two years to disrupt metropolitan Chicago’s legacy of segregation. Taken together, it is a roadmap to a more equitable Chicago region.

Working with more than 110 advisors and local experts, the recommendations call for coordinating and accelerating solutions for more equitable housing, economic development, education, public health and safety, transportation and land use policies and practices.

The collective recommendations plot two fundamental paths: 1) Dismantling the institutional barriers that create and perpetuate disparities and inequities by race and income. 2) Pursuing policies and programs that can be implemented right now. The scale of implementation ranges from city of Chicago, Cook County, Chicago region and state of Illinois.

“In MPC’s 2017 Cost of Segregation study, we explicitly emphasized the negative impacts of segregation. The remedies and recommendations offered today go beyond the patterns of where people live,” said Marisa Novara, Vice President of the Metropolitan Planning Council and one of the authors of the roadmap. “Our shared focus must be on the racism and inequity that fueled and fuels it. Fundamentally, segregation is a by-product of racism—which is why these solutions push us toward racial equity.” 

Examples from the roadmap include:  

  1. Adopt a racial equity framework. This commitment—which can be adopted by government, private sector and non-profits—rigorously examines structures, such as budgets, hiring practices, plans and ordinances that may be perpetuating inequities, regardless of intent.
  2. Adopt a City Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): Establish a City EITC for working households to augment the pre-existing federal and state EITCs.
    • Impact: An extra $218 million in spending towards the regional economy on the part of working families.
  3. Lessen local control over affordable housing decisions. City Alderman should no longer have the ability to reject or delay a proposed residential development with ten percent affordable units if his or her ward has less than ten percent affordable housing.
  4. Increase housing options by increasing CHA voucher subsidies. Expand Housing Choice Voucher Exception Rents to 200 percent of Fair Market Rent in select community areas that are currently inaccessible to voucher holders as a means to promote mobility and equity.
    • Impact: Voucher holders would have access to an estimated 3,377 more housing units than they do today.
  5. Break the link between low incomes and incarceration. Eliminate wealth-based pretrial detention by prohibiting the use of secured money bail; Create a statutory waiver for the imposition of criminal court fees and costs on the poor; End the suspension of driver’s licenses for simple non-payment of tickets, fines, or other debt; and Require implicit bias training for judges, prosecutors, public defenders, pretrial services officers, and all criminal court system staff.
    • Impact: $198 million could be saved annually by eliminating unnecessary pretrial detention.

Regional Projections: Uneven growth and increased income inequality

MPC also revealed population projections that point to uneven growth and rising income inequality. Working with Urban Institute, MPC found that if current trends continue, by 2030 the region could experience:

  • 17 percent drop (to about 665,000) in African American population in the city, its lowest level there since the 1950s.
  • 14 percent growth of White population in the city while declining in the suburbs by 6 percent
  • Modest 4 percent growth of Latino population in the city and dramatic 44 percent boom in the suburbs
  • 12 percent growth of households earning below $30,000—with the highest rates of growth occurring in the suburbs
  • 42 percent growth of households earning $125,000 or more—with the highest rate of growth occurring in the city

“These projections are our call to action,” said Alden Loury, Director of Research and Evaluation for the Metropolitan Planning Council and one of the authors of the report. “We are offering a roadmap that our region can adopt today to ensure we are more equitable, inclusive and, ultimately, economically competitive tomorrow.”

In March 2017, MPC, in partnership with the Urban Institute, documented the extreme price the Chicago region pays to live so separately by race and income. The study projected three key outcomes if the region’s African American-white segregation were reduced to the median of the nation’s largest 100 metro areas: $4.4 billion in additional income in our region each year, 30 percent lower homicide rate and 83,000 more bachelor’s degrees.

About the roadmap

The study was funded by The Chicago Community Trust and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. A five-minute video was funded by CIBC U.S.

“There is both a moral and an economic imperative to achieve both systematic changes and day-to-day decision-making that move us toward a more equitable Chicago region,” said Dr. Helene Gayle, president and chief executive officer, The Chicago Community Trust. “The recommendations detailed in this report, fully realized, are an important first step. Not only do they have the potential to generate billions of dollars in additional tax revenue and increased spending, but they also will support the development of more vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities throughout our region.”

Working with more than 110 advisors, MPC convened Working Groups to prioritize strategies and implementation partners. Experts developed a shared understanding of the problems, while discovering potential solutions. Many traveled with MPC to learn more about strategies in other regions such as Seattle and Atlanta, and apply lessons learned here in Chicago.

“Our recommendations are comprehensive but not exhaustive. There is room for many more good ideas and skilled implementers,” said MarySue Barrett, President of the Metropolitan Planning Council. “This where we must start. Just as we are inspired by change agents making progress on equity and inclusion, so are we focused on the hard work ahead.”

Up next, MPC will work with partners in housing, transportation and economic development to implement recommendations from this roadmap. MPC will continue to support and connect the work of leaders in education, public safety and public health and assist them in their implementation efforts of the recommendations.

For more information, contact Emily Blum, MPC Director of Marketing and Communications, at 312.863.6018 or eblum@metroplanning.org. Photos are available upon request.

About Metropolitan Planning Council

For more than 80 years, MPC has provided sound, urban planning solutions to our region’s toughest challenges. Through research, technical assistance, and advocacy, we have been an independent and trusted change agent to make our region more equitable, sustainable and prosperous. 


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