I think anyone would tell you that genuine, citywide economic and racial desegregation would resolve more than just our affordable housing crisis,” Ald. Tim Cullerton (38th ward) said in response to a StreetWise questionnaire sent to all 50 Chicago City Council members. “In my opinion, there is a need to provide additional safe, affordable, clean housing opportunities into our economically depressed areas, in addition to more employment opportunities.”
Although Cullerton answered questions specific to his far northwest side ward, he was among many aldermen who called for more collaborative solutions in response to homelessness. “It’s really a citywide issue, as is the gun- violence issue. Although these problems exist to a greater extent in other parts of our city, I believe that all elected officials and citizens must work together, as one city, to address these problems.”
In the past few weeks, StreetWise has been assessing the loss of affordable housing and the availability of social services throughout the North Side. Much of our focus has been in the Uptown and Lakeview areas where commentary on the local alderman has been controversial and questions have arisen: Is it better to live in a less than ideal, possibly unsafe, housing unit or on the streets? Do some social services act as as disincentives for people suffering homelessness to independent, productive lives?
As a result, StreetWise posed a series of questions to each of the Chicago City Council’s 50 aldermen by telephone and email. Some aldermen responded in writing, by email, and others in telephone interviews.
Most aldermen agreed about the need for more affordable housing, but not necessarily in their own wards. Some believed they already had their share of affordable housing and others said they did not have a homelessness problem – or they knew their constituents would fight the units. Some responded enthusiastically to a StreetWise question about economic and racial desegregation of Chicago.
The survey consisted of seven questions, which are detailed below in the full interview provided by Ald. James Cappleman (46th ward). He is a social worker by profession and his ward includes much of Uptown (Foster Avenue to the North, Lake Michigan to the East, and Clark Street to the West).
By Ethan Ross
StreetWise Editorial Intern