What We’re Reading: May 4th

This week, we’re reading about the pervasiveness of homelessness in Chicago and the forces that exacerbate it, how the federal health care debate impacts special education, and gun violence in Chicago.

Homeless students do homework under a blanket

1. Rahm Emanuel postpones briefings on CPS rescue : We’ve long known that CPS needs financial help from the city, but Rahm continues to fail to make it a priority.

[Alderman] O’Connor… acknowledged that Emanuel is far more likely to borrow from TIF than he is to siphon from $620 million in “asset reserves” that remain from the sale of the Chicago Skyway…Whatever the source of the financial life raft, O’Connor said he expects the rescue plan to include another painful round of school budget cuts.

2. A Little-Noticed Target in the House Health Bill: Special Education : The House votes today on the GOP’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The New York Times looks at what that means for our special education students.

School districts rely on Medicaid, the federal health care program for the poor, to provide costly services to millions of students with disabilities across the country. For nearly 30 years, Medicaid has helped school systems cover costs for special education services and equipment, from physical therapists to feeding tubes. The money is also used to provide preventive care, such as vision and hearing screenings, for other Medicaid-eligible children.

3. CCH releases new findings on ‘doubled-up’ homeless families, city pledges new housing resources to help 100 families : The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless has released a new report on the status of homeless families in Chicago. The percentage of CPS students who are experiencing homelessness is double that of the rest of the state.

The report shows that 82,212 people were homeless in Chicago in 2015, an unduplicated count. Eighty-seven percent of homeless families (8,634 families) with children were doubled-up. CCH also found that 44% of homeless families served by the emergency shelter system had lived doubled-up with friends or family, either prior to or after entering the shelter system within that year.

4. UN report lays bare the waste of treating homes as commodities : The United Nations reports that the same private actors who have siphoned dollars away from our school system also exacerbate homelessness.

Farha’s report says escalating house prices have become key factors in the increase in wealth inequality. Those who own property in prime urban locations have become richer, while lower-income households become poorer. Surveys of ultra-high net-worth individuals show that over 50% have increased the proportion of their investments allocated to housing. The most common reasons are in order to sell at a later date and provide a safe return on investment, thus protecting wealth. The “economics of inequality” may be explained in large part by the inequalities of wealth generated by housing investments.

5. Every Other Hour : WBEZ has launched a year-long investigation into the causes and impacts of gun violence in Chicago.

For more than a year now, there’s been a person shot about every other hour. That relentless violence has ended hundreds of lives and damaged thousands more. It’s changing the life of the city. To better understand who picks up a gun and why, WBEZ will offer stories and conversations designed to break through entrenched assumptions and shape the conversation around gun violence in Chicago.

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About Lauren Dean

Lauren is a graduate student in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a research intern at the Chicago Teachers Union. Her research focuses on urban policy, equity, and labor issues. She edits A Just Chicago.

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