City and HUD reach agreement on environmental racism investigation

The City has until September 1 to come up with an action plan on how it will change its approach to zoning and land-use practices to address disproportionate environmental impacts on communities of color on the South and West sides. Last year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said the City was discriminating against Black and brown communities by helping place polluters in those neighborhoods. Notably, the HUD investigation drew on community complaints about the City’s plan to move the General Iron scrap metal recycler from Lincoln Park to the Southeast Side. (The plan was eventually defeated by a concerted community organizing effort, which the Weekly covered extensively.) While former Mayor Lori Lightfoot fought HUD on the investigation for a year, in one of her last acts in office, her administration agreed to drop the fight and take steps to identify and reduce the environmental burden faced by communities of color. The agreement was praised by environmental justice advocates, such as Cherly Johnson of People for Community Recovery, who said it was “a new roadmap to fight back against environmental racism.” It will be up to Mayor Brandon Johnson to oversee its implementation. Earlier last month, he said, “I will always be steadfast in my commitment to advancing environmental justice and improving the health of our residents and communities.”

Some migrants housed in City Colleges while South Shore residents sue

More than 300 migrants are now being housed in Wilbur Wright College, located at 4300 N. Narragansett Ave. on the Northwest Side. This comes after hundreds of residents of the area held a meeting with split sentiments over migrants being moved to Wright’s gymnasium for the summer. The migrants were moved to the college on Memorial Day Eve and are expected to stay until August 1 before classes resume. This still leaves more than 500 migrants in police stations. Across the city, in South Shore, residents filed suit in early May against plans to turn vacant and shuttered old South Shore High School into a migrant respite center. The community expressed lack of input and fear for their safety. The City Council is set to vote on a $51 million plan to fund not only shelters but also resources for around 9,000 migrants currently residing in Chicago. 

Beaches open for the summer

As usual, beach season started on the Friday before Memorial Day and goes through Labor Day in all twenty-two Chicago beaches. But the mood was interrupted by a shooting at North Avenue Beach when dozens of teenagers gathered that morning. A fifteen-year-old was charged with discharging a gun during a scuffle, but thankfully nobody was hurt and the beach reopened that afternoon. The Chicago Park District claims it has resolved its lifeguard shortage—though they are accepting applications until June 3—and will be adding thirty ambassadors to help out at the busiest beaches. Pools are scheduled to open on June 23

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