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Community Perspectives on COVID-19 Recovery: A Report on 2021 Community Conversations

March 21, 2022

As Chicago works to come back from the pandemic, years of disinvestment and structural racism have made economic recovery harder for some communities than others. To have a truly equitable recovery, it's important to understand the on-going impact the pandemic has had on Black and Latinx communities hit hard by job loss, sickness, and death. In collaboration with The Chicago Community Trust and We Rise Together: For an Equitable and Just Recovery, New America Chicago commissioned a report from BECOME to learn more about how these communities were recovering and what is still needed from local and federal policymakers for these communities to not just recover but thrive.We Rise Together is a coalition of corporate and philanthropic funders working with the community to accelerate equitable economic recovery in the Chicago region. Housed at The Chicago Community Trust, We Rise Together is increasing employment opportunities for Black and Latinx workers, strengthening businesses of color, and spurring investment in disinvested neighborhoods. Because We Rise Together is committed to grounding the initiative's efforts in the lived experiences of Chicago's most marginalized communities, the decision was made to host Community Conversations across Chicago neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.  A team from BECOME worked with New America Chicago, The Trust, and We Rise Together to plan seven Community Conversations in collaboration with nonprofits from each neighborhood. Participants had strong recommendations for support and resources to help their neighborhoods recover economically from the pandemic. Consistently, across all neighborhoods, we heard that people struggled and continue to struggle economically and emotionally as a result of the pandemic. Still, most found unexpected positives in the midst of the pandemic.

Housing Needs and Economic Conditions of Cook County’s Older Adults, 2021

December 14, 2021

The development of impactful policy to address the unique housing needs of Cook County's older adults requires local and timely data on changing conditions, informed by the data needs of issue-area stakeholders. This analysis leverages the local knowledge of roughly 20 Chicago-area organizations working on older adult housing issues to create a practitioner-focused resource on key demographic and socioeconomic conditions related to older-adult housing demand and economic and housing insecurity in Cook County.Click "Download" to access this resource online.

Overcoming Barriers and Empowering Communities: The Immigrant Health Academy

October 20, 2021

Immigrants in Illinois are diverse in their ethnicities, cultures, immigration statuses, and economic standing. Unfortunately, the most vulnerable immigrants lack adequate, equitable access to healthcare due to barriers presented by the healthcare system, including limited healthcare coverage options for undocumented individuals. As healthcare becomes a national priority, heightened because of the COVID-19 pandemic, undocumented immigrants have often been excluded from policy solutions. ICIRR and its members have been advocating at the national, state and local levels for many years to ensure that immigrants are included, if possible, in all policy solutions. Despite these efforts, many individuals remain uninsured, including over 180,000 who are undocumented in Illinois and many more who are not aware of their health coverage options or their healthcare rights.With the goal of expanding health coverage and fulfilling one of our organizational goals of community empowerment, ICIRR along with six key partners in the Chicago suburbs (Mujeres Latinas en Accion, Arab American Family Services, Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project, Mano a Mano Family Resource Center, Legal Council for Health Justice, and Shriver Center on Poverty Law) are launching the Immigrant Health Academy. The Academy will focus on empowering immigrants by helping them understand their healthcare rights regardless of immigration status and how to navigate the complex healthcare system. The Academy will train immigrant leaders with a newly developed curriculum and evaluation process to measure clear metrics of organizing, leadership development, and empowerment. 

Firearm Safety, Gun Violence and Chicago Families: Voices of Child Health in Chicago Report

July 1, 2021

Chicago has seen continuing firearm violence, with over 2,000 shooting victims so far in 2021. The epidemic of firearm violence impacts children across the state, as it remains the number one cause of death in children and youth across Illinois. In some of our previous reports, Chicago parents identified gun violence as their top social concern for kids in the city, and in recent years, they reported it was the main social problem getting worse the fastest for Chicago youth. In this month's Voices of Child Health in Chicago Report, we focus on the importance of firearm safety and parents' concerns about gun violence in the city. We asked 1,505 Chicago parents from all 77 community areas in the city about their experiences with firearm safety as well as other gun violence prevention and concern-related questions. 

Poverty, Income & Health Insurance Update: Illinois and Chicago Region

September 17, 2020

Poverty rates and household incomes improved in Illinois in 2019. However, this data reflects conditions from the last year before a global pandemic and related recession--meaning the picture is likely much worse today. And even before the 2020 recession, millions of Illinoisans--especially people of color--lived in poverty or on the brink.The poverty rate for the United States was 10.5% in 2019, a decline of 1.3 percentage points from 2018 and the lowest on record. There were 34 million people in poverty nationwide. In 2019, 1.4 million Illinoisans were in poverty--a rate of 11.5%. Additionally, 1.9 million Illinoisans are near poor and economically insecure with incomes between 100% and 199% of the federal poverty threshold.The data also revealed that health insurance coverage rates declined in Illinois and throughout the nation in 2019, continuing a disturbing trend of eroding the gains of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), right before a global pandemic and economic recession hit.

Integrated Care in a Fast- Changing and Slow-Moving Environment: A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of the Health Neighborhood Project

July 23, 2020

Health Neighborhood, a pilot project within Heartland Alliance Health (HAH), intended to create a population-based approach of improving integrated care among people with experiences of homelessness, who were housed in permanent supportive housing (PSH). The program was built on through intensive partnerships between HAH and five Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) providers: Chicago House, North Side Housing and Supportive Services, Deborah's Place, Housing Opportunities for Women, and Heartland Human Care Services (HHCS). The program was implemented from 2016 – 2019, and served 46 participants.

Never Fully Free: The Scale and Impact of Permanent Punishments on People with Criminal Records in Illinois

June 29, 2020

This first-of-its-kind study confirms that more than 3.3 million people in Illinois could be impacted by permanent punishments as a result of prior "criminal justice system" involvement, which is more accurately referred to as the "criminal legal system" given the well-documented inequities that bring into question whether the system actually brings justice to people who come into contact with it."Never Fully Free: The Scale and Impact of Permanent Punishments on People with Criminal Records in Illinois," lifts up that permanent punishments are the numerous laws and barriers aimed at people with records that limit their human rights and restrict access to the crucial resources needed to re-build their lives, such as employment, housing, and education. The report recommends a broad dismantling of permanent punishments, so that those who have been involved with the criminal legal system have the opportunity to fully participate in society.The data illustrates the dramatic number of people who may be living with the stigma and limitations of a criminal record in Illinois. Since the advent of mass incarceration in 1979, there are an estimated 3.3 million adults who have been arrested or convicted of a crime in Illinois. Under current laws, these individuals have limited rights even after their criminal legal system involvement has ended. In fact, the report uncovered a vast web of 1,189 laws in Illinois that punish people with criminal records, often indefinitely.

Police Brutality Bonds: How Wall Street Profits from Police Violence

June 24, 2020

This report focuses on just one aspect of the cost and profits of policing—the use of borrowingto pay for police-related settlements and judgments. This report serves to uncover the lengths that municipalities have gone to hide both how the costs of police violence and who profitsfrom it. In our research, we found that cities and counties across the United States issue bonds topay for police brutality settlements and judgments. The cities range from giant metropolises such as Los Angeles to smaller cities like Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Our report includes details on police brutality bonds in twelve cities and counties, including five in-depth case studies: Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Lake County, Indiana. 

Win-Win: Equipping Housing Providers to Open Doors to Housing for People With Criminal Records

July 12, 2019

In Illinois, nearly 5 million adults, 50% of the population, are estimated to have an arrest or conviction record. Housing is foundational for employment success, family stability, and overall well-being. Unfortunately, criminal history checks are a typical part of the housing application processes, and many people with records are declined housing opportunities they would otherwise be a good fit for, but for the criminal record.  Our goal for Win-Win was to develop user-friendly guidance about the use of criminal records in screening and housing applicants, and to provide recommendations that housing providers can adopt and adapt, in whole or in part, to increase housing opportunities for people with criminal records.  

Mapping the Dance Landscape in Chicagoland

June 13, 2019

The Chicago region is a hub for arts and culture and boasts a thriving dance community. What do we know about the dance sector in Chicagoland (defined in this report as Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will Counties in Illinois and Lake County, Indiana)? And what do the data reveal about opportunities and challenges facing dancers, dance organizations, and the sector as whole?

The Gender Disadvantage: Why Inequity Persists

March 13, 2019

Poverty does not treat everyone equally. Women, children, gender minorities, and people of color are often the hardest hit. And while women in poverty experience the same issues that all people in poverty experience—income inequality, unemployment, poor health, violence, trauma, and more—the odds are often uniquely stacked against them in gendered ways.There are 6.5 million women. and an estimated 50,000 trans people living in Illinois. They are a driving force in our economy and care for our children, sick, and elderly, and yet continue to face discrimination and inequitable opportunities. This year's annual report on poverty in Illinois shows how gender, gender identity, and gender norms shape experiences of poverty for women and gender minorities—and how women who have other marginalized identities experience even more inequity. If we want to dramatically reduce poverty, improving the well-being of women— particularly women of color—would deliver the biggest return.

Illinois and Chicago Region: Poverty, Income and Health Insurance (Fact Sheet)

September 13, 2018

Millions of people in Illinois experience poverty or are living on the brink. That societal position keeps opportunities out of reach and nearly guarantees worse outcomes in every quality of life domain—making ALL of us worse off.This fact sheet on poverty, income, and health insurance coverage in Illinois and the Chicago region, was created using the Census Bureau's release of local American Community Survey data.The poverty rate for the United States was 12.3% in 2017. There were 39.7 million people in poverty nationwide. The poverty rate is not significantly different from the pre-recession level of 12.5% in 2007. In 2017, 1.6 million Illinoisans were in poverty ─ a rate of 12.6%. Additionally, 2.0 million Illinoisans are near poor and economically insecure with incomes between 100% and 199% of the federal poverty threshold.