The independent Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) works with governments, businesses, community leaders, and advocacy groups to promote racially equitable and environmentally sustainable planning and policy solutions necessary for every neighborhood to thrive. To this end, MPC’s work focuses on creating Thriving Communities, Equitable Infrastructure and Just Public Systems. This framework captures the vision for the region we seek to advance through collaborative policy development and advocacy.
MPC advocates for policies and practices that advance racial and economic justice in our communities, infrastructure, and public systems
All communities should have the resources needed to thrive, including accessible and affordable housing, healthy and resilient neighborhoods and community-centered planning and engagement. Policies below support inclusive growth, jobs, housing and neighborhoods as well as community wealth building. MPC will continue to support legislation that expands affordable housing supply through preservation strategies and new production and protects vulnerable residents from unnecessary displacement. These policies also mitigate historic harms and improve public health and environmental outcomes in BIPOC communities.
Create equitable opportunities to access economic benefits of water infrastructure investment
Build an equitable lead service line replacement economy. Replacing lead service lines will invest billions of dollars into Illinois over several decades. It is imperative that people of color – who are up to twice as likely as white Illinoisans to be living in a community with toxic water infrastructure – benefit from this economic activity. Doing so will take dedicated and sustained outreach and oversight.
Public and private investments need to adopt inclusive development standards and support sustainable infrastructure for all communities. These policies increase use of performance-based methods to guide infrastructure funding. Policies must also increase the amount of public and private investments in historically disinvested communities.
Plan for safety, decarbonization, and equity in transportation system
Improve data-driven decision-making criteria and methods so they apply to integrated multimodal investments, prioritize reduced climate impacts, embed equity, and increase engagement. IDOT’s initial rollout of the performance-based planning tool (required by HB 253 passed in 2021) takes some important steps toward increased transparency in transportation investments. We will work with Illinois DOT to refine the criteria to ensure the methods used will effectively direct billions of Rebuild Illinois and federal transportation dollars to fund projects that will achieve the transportation, environmental, and equity outcomes Illinois residents want and need.
Protect vulnerable road users
Design for safer streets by making intersections more pedestrian-friendly. Fatalities and serious injuries of pedestrians and cyclists – including children – are sharply on the rise. Illinois needs to take decisive action to eliminate these preventable tragedies. Illinois needs to change how it designs streets: current guidelines create unnecessarily wide – and therefore dangerous – street crossings. MPC supports revising turning-radius requirements for intersection designs to make our streets easier to cross on foot.
Reduce driving speeds. Speed kills: 75% of pedestrians struck by a 25mph car will survive the encounter; the pedestrian survival rate drops to 5% when the speed increases to 40mph. The State of Illinois should take action to reduce driving speeds and save pedestrians’ lives.
Ensure all Illinoisans have the resources to replace their lead service lines
Dedicate funding to protect children from lead in drinking water. Illinois’ lead service line replacement funding needs will far outpace federal support – likely by billions of dollars. To help close that gap and protect the Illinoisans most vulnerable to lead, Illinois should appropriate additional funding to replace every lead service line in every licensed childcare facility in the state.
Create transparent criteria to ensure lead service line replacement funding is distributed equitably. Many low-capacity water utilities with limited staff struggle to access the State Revolving Fund programs, which will administer hundreds of millions of dollars in federal lead service line replacement funding in the coming years. It is imperative that federal funding is distributed based on transparent, equity-based criteria that guarantee assistance for these priority communities. We cannot afford to leave Illinois’ most vulnerable communities behind.
Make financial incentives more transparent and equitable
Reform the use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF). TIF can be a powerful tool to drive investment to under-invested areas. Unfortunately, TIFs are too often used in areas where developers already want to invest due to the overly broad definition of “blight.” MPC supports state legislation that will bring greater transparency, accountability, and equity to the use of TIF in funding development.
Just Public Systems
The public sector needs tools and internal capacity to transform inequitable systems. Additionally, government processes and structures may need to be transformed to make them more transparent and fair for all. These policies lead to codified structures, government policies and programs that advance racial equity and inclusion, sustainability, and civic participation. These policies also increase community stakeholder representation that impacts government decisions.
Ensure all federal water infrastructure investments flow equitably
Make the State Revolving Fund work for every community. The federal Infrastructure Improvement and Jobs Act will dedicate $1.7 billion in investment to Illinois’ drinking water, stormwater, and sewer systems through the State Revolving Fund. There is some evidence that communities with higher percentages of Black and Latinx residents receive fewer benefits from the State Revolving Fund program. MPC is working with stakeholders and State agencies to ensure low-income Black and Latinx communities get their fair share of this funding source.