City launches first composting program

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson announced mid-October the city’s first composting program. Chicagoans can now dispose of their food waste in fifteen locations throughout the city. Residents can visit the drop-off sites and place their food scraps into green bins. The city’s website does advise residents to not use “bags of any kind” when discarding the food waste. 

The program comes after a waste management study published this past July noted that Chicago generates more than four million tons of material waste annually. The study outlined a need for equitable access to locations for disposal of recyclable materials to mitigate the problem. Eight of the fifteen locations are located in the South Side with locations for the compost program in Pilsen, Chinatown, Mckinley Park, Gage Park, Bronzeville, Englewood, Auburn Gresham, and Morgan Park. Materials from the sites will then be transferred to a composting facility and processed into compost. 

“Diverting food scraps for composting is one of the easiest and most impactful ways for individuals and cities to address the climate crisis,” said Mayor Johnson. “We can reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions that occur when organic food material decomposes in a landfill, return organic materials to the earth, and most importantly, create healthier communities across our great city.”

Rental assistance for migrants

Illinois state is funding temporary housing, including rented apartments, for migrants with up to $9,000 in rental assistance over a six-month period, move-in assistance, and a starter kit to furnish the apartment. “Ideally people would have started their legal process, secured legal work authorization and be able to sustain that apartment,” said First Deputy Chief of Staff Christina Pacione-Zayas. Chicago is the only sanctuary city prioritizing resettlement as the primary solution to helping migrants achieve self-sufficiency. The payment will be made directly towards the landlord (about 1,155 landlords are renting to new arrivals) and is based on market rate prices. About thirty to forty case management workers at Catholic Charities and other immigration organizations are actively working to secure housing for migrants through this program, with more being recruited.

The Chicago Low-Income Housing Trust Fund has also been assisting migrants find housing with a combination of state and city funds, specifically $15 million from the city and $5 million from the state in 2023. In 2022, CLIHTF started allowing residents who are self-employed – often unhoused, undocumented, and now migrants—to self-certify their income through a notarized letter, which provides a pathway for migrants who are paid in cash for their work to qualify for permanent affordable housing. The organization is currently closed to new applications but expects to open applications again in the first quarter of next year, said the executive director Annissa Lambirth-Garrett.

Auto workers reach tentative deals with Detroit auto manufacturers

The United Auto Workers (UAW) union reached tentative deals with GM, Ford, and Stellantis last week, putting an end to more than six weeks of strikes. If ratified by workers, the new contracts will net workers average raises of twenty-five percent over the course of the contracts, which will run until 2028, though some workers will see raises of as high as eighty-nine percent. UAW, under new leadership by Shawn Fain, began targeted strikes against select factories run by the auto manufacturers on September 14. The union declined to give companies much notice of the strikes, leaving them with little time to prepare for the disruptions. The tentative agreements include stipulations that the auto manufacturers will limit hiring temporary, lower paid workers; that workers retain the right to strike in response to plant closures; and the inclusion of workers at electric car battery factories.

In a video address to workers, UAW President Shawn Fain said, “We wholeheartedly believe our strike squeezed every last dime out of General Motors. They underestimated us. They underestimated you.”

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