How funds should be allocated to assist Chicago’s residents in their recovery from the pandemic?

February 18, 20230

The federal American Recovery Plan Act and other federal pandemic funding measures meant more than $4 billion combined for the City of Chicago and the Chicago Public Schools. How do you think those funds should be allocated to assist Chicago’s residents in their recovery from the pandemic?

Mental Health+Closed Schools  

The pandemic exposed the acute need for mental health services. Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed half of the city’s 12 public mental health clinics in 2012. Four of them were located on the South Side. From a recent study by Collaborative for Community Wellness. In 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 public schools. You will notice that this map reflects school closings and crime. It could be said in confidence that there is a coalition between mental health, schools and crime. As alderman I want to not only restore the closed mental health clinics, but to make a major investment by adding more. Also, I would demand to have a study done to determine what damage has occurred between closing of both healthcare clinics and schools. It is obvious that the record numbers of people leaving the city over the last few years is a direct effect from closing schools. 

Safe To Play

We need to create safe places for our kids to play and socialize without being in danger. A place where they can be themselves. Some years ago there was a concerted effort to remove all of the outdoor basketball courts around the 19th ward (source Chicago Tribune). We need to restore outdoor public basketball courts and include lighting for our children to have a place to play both day and at night. We need to make sure there are other options such as soccer, football, and baseball. Our kids need outlets to play. Not just organized games, but informal games too. It is great that some schools offer sports, but not all schools have the capacity for sports and other programs. This will help mend cross neighborhood relations and restore trust amongst our youth. 

Post Pandemic

In a recent report card from National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the Nation’s Report Card or NAEP, in Chicago, 41% of fourth graders were below basic and 51% of eighth graders were considered below basic. Seventy-eight percent of CPS fourth graders are not proficient in reading, with 51% of them below basic. 79% percent of eighth graders are not proficient in reading, with 39% below basic. This is a stark difference between the pre pandemic numbers versus now. We need to put our resources to use to help our children to catch up. First I believe that we should reconsider how we approach testing. CPS is so focused on teaching to the test, for that is how CPS is judged. Let’s take that paradigm away and focus on the fundamentals to build or rebuild the foundational skills. We need to level-set and focus on bringing our children up to speed. 

The Teachers

Many people seem to overlook the issues and pressures that teachers have had to endure during the pandemic. Just in the last few years teachers were on strike to ensure a better learning environment for children and then the onset of a global pandemic. This was not for better pay or for any direct benefit for themselves, it was for the children. Now, teachers are absorbing the brunt of our children’s mental health and anxiety that they have been suffering over the last two years. Providing healthcare professionals to each school, not as a reactive resource, but as a proactive resource. Provide the tools to recognize and triage mental health issues to teachers as well as coping mechanisms to the students.


We need to showcase our entire community. Beverly, Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood boast many different ethnic and community groups. Getting together to recognize and celebrate our differences makes us a stronger community.

 Attract people of other backgrounds to our ward. 

  • Events that include the city come together. For example there was a jazz event in Morgan Park last year that brought older African Americans to sit and enjoy music. This should be a regular event.
  • We should have ethnic or fests that include food. Such a fest that might include food and music from the African diaspora. Experiencing one’s culture through food is a gateway to openness.
  • Parades besides the South Side Irish parade? LGBTQ pride parade? 


Unchecked mental health and isolation brought on by the pandemic have shattered already disjointed communities throughout the city of Chicago. Chicago has a long history of segregation and distrust amongst communities, yet with the onset of the pandemic, it only exasperated this long standing problem. COVID made everyone strangers to one another and festered long steeped feelings of distrust leading to the xenophobia that we are experiencing now. We need to come together and use our collective strength to overcome the challenges that are before us as well as the ones ahead. I believe some of the ideas I have outlined above would help accomplish this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Paid for by Noonan For 19
How Can You Help