Roundup: May 5, 2023

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1. Migrants continue arriving in Chicago

Migrants from the southern border continue to arrive in Chicago, with Lori Lightfoot sending an open letter to Texas Governor Abbott to stop sending people here, underscoring Chicago’s commitment to being a Welcoming City and highlighting the fact that resources are exhausted. As shelters have been overwhelmed for months, migrants are now sleeping at police stations across the city and other makeshift shelters. Community organizations like Refugee Community Connections have stepped up to bring food and clothing to migrants, but housing and long-term solutions remain a challenge. If you’d like to help our new arrivals, you can check with your alderperson or learn more here.

2. ComEd bribery trial comes to an end

The “ComEd Four” trial concluded this week, finding former ComEd officials guilty of bribing former House Speaker Michael Madigan, set for his own trial next year. Illinois’ history of corrupt politicians has already led to several reforms, but the results of this trial may lead to more updates to ethics laws. Members of the Republican party have been quick to condemn Madigan and statewide corruption, hoping for an opening for their party in this Democratic state. It remains to be seen how this trial will affect statewide politics, but Madigan’s trial ahead of the DNC convention will certainly have the spotlight on Illinois.

3. Mourning Jordan Neely

JCUA mourns the loss of Jordan Neely, murdered on the New York City subway. Our movement partners at Jews for Racial and Economic Justice write that Neely’s killing is an indictment of failed approaches to public safety, housing, and healthcare, and remind us that unhoused people are our neighbors and valued community members.

In Chicago, we’re also seeing the devastating ramifications of the lack of investment in housing, mental health services, and the criminalization of unhoused people. After the murder of an unhoused man by a CTA employee, Chicago Reader’s Katie Prout wrote about the conflation of feeling uncomfortable on public transportation when faced with the reality of the homelessness crisis, and actually being unsafe, asking “When the very presence of unhoused people on the CTA is considered a public safety concern, who is the public, and what are we keeping them safe from?” JCUA remains committed to working for long-term solutions for the health and safety of all Chicagoans, including Bring Chicago Home and Treatment Not Trauma.

4. Celebrating Gerry & Steve Keen at Acts of Change

At Acts of Change, we are excited to present the Rabbi Marx Award for Social Justice to two remarkable individuals, Gerry and Steve Keen, whose lifelong dedication to justice and connection to JCUA have made a significant impact in our community. We hope you’ll join us on Tuesday, June 6 to celebrate!

Gerry first worked with Head Start on the North side of Chicago, where she tutored and mentored students from underinvested communities. After graduating college in the 1960s, Gerry would spend her days advocating for young women in Cook County Juvenile Court and her nights marching down Michigan Avenue in support of civil rights. As Gerry and Steve raised their children, she became active with the National Council of Jewish Women, where she helped establish a telephone directory line for resources and support, called Telehelp.

Steve has been an active member and supporter of JCUA for decades. He worked closely with the Community Ventures Program (CVP), our revolving, zero-interest loan fund that supports affordable housing projects. He has served many leadership roles within JCUA, including long-time advisor, Board member, CVP Advisory Committee member, and Board President. In addition to JCUA, Steve has worked closely with justice-focused organizations across Illinois, including Executive Service Corps, Family Service of Lake County, and United Way of the Northern Suburbs.