Quick Hit Wednesday October 8th, 2014, 3:37pm

Guest Post: Hundreds Of Chicago Seniors, Working Families Stage Political Theater Highlighting Barriers To Prosperity

The following is from the Jane Addams Senior Caucus.

Over three hundred senior citizens, their allies and aldermen gathered at Daley Plaza Tuesday to dramatically protest the housing and economic policies supported by Mayor Emanuel, which are having disastrous impact on struggling families and seniors.  

The message chanted at the Rally was “What do we want? $15 Now! What do we want? CHA Housing Justice!”  

Shatara Uhunmwangho, leader of Chicago Housing Initiative who is homeless said, “I made the decision to participate in the political theater and rally because I am a mother, I am a worker and I am on the waiting list for the Chicago Housing Authority. Affordable housing is an issue for my family.  My daughter and I need a stable and affordable place to live. This year, the city council has the opportunity to vote on two important issues that would transform the lives of thousands and thousands of families – the Keeping the Promise Ordinance and $15 Minimum Wage for Chicago Ordinance.”   

Seniors, working families and advocates impacted by the mayor’s current barriers to economic security are turning up the heat on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and demanding that he support the $15 Minimum Wage for Chicago and Keeping the Promise Ordinances.

“For me faith is about the living. And real living means not having to worry that you’ll end up without a home you can afford. Real living means knowing you can keep food on the table.  Real living with dignity means knowing your labor has the respect of your community. These are the values we share, whatever personal and religious convictions. We share these values because they unite us and they free us, and they give our lives dignity,” said Pastor Mark Fick of Ebenezer Lutheran Church. 

Aldermen Joe Moreno (1st), Scott Waguespack (32nd), Ricardo Muñoz (22nd), Bob Fioretti (2nd), Toni Foulkes (15th), and Nick Sposato (36th) publicly committed to pushing Alderman Patrick O’Connor to call a hearing for the $15 Minimum Wage for Chicago Ordinance and to turn their sponsorship into a “Yes” vote.  Many who attended the rally wondered where Alderman Patrick O’Connor was? 

The $15 Minimum Wage for Chicago Ordinance would establish a Chicago minimum wage that for very large employers, raises the minimum wage to $12.50 per hour starting 90 days after enactment and $15 one year later. Mid and smaller size employers would gradually phase the minimum wage up to $15.00 over more than four years by 2018.   

“Housing and location of choice should not be a hindrance to the economic and racial integration of the City of Chicago. There should be accountability from Chicago Housing Authority and the Keeping the Promise Ordinance will make this possible,” said Reverend Robert Jones of  Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church. “Today we are calling for our elected officials, yes, we are calling for our leading elected official, Mayor Rahm Emanuel:  Do the Right Thing!”   

Alds. Walter Burnett (27th) and Roderick Sawyer (6th) as well as Moreno, Waguespack, Muñoz, Fioretti, Foulkes, and Sposato publicly committed to pushing for a hearing of the Keeping the Promise Ordinance and a vote in the Committee on Housing and Real Estate in November and turning their sponsorship into a “Yes” vote.  

The Keeping the Promise Ordinance would create an oversight structure and city standards for the Chicago Housing Authority performance; an end to the rampant vacancies and the leasing of more than 3,500 vacant units; ensure full use of 13,500 additional housing vouchers and ensure 1 for 1 replacement of any standing public housing unit that is demolished or converted using city funds.

“Mayor Emanuel needs to know that he is accountable to the voters of Chicago.  We are here to tell our Aldermen and the Mayor that the rising cost of gasoline, heat, oil, food and other necessities of life are on the minds of seniors when we go to the polls to vote,” said Victor McWilliams, JASC board member. “It is time for Chicago to pass the $15 Minimum Wage for Chicago Ordinance so that working families and seniors can have the economic security they deserve. We will continue to fight for a society in which all people can live with dignity and economic security.”

The rally was organized by a collaboration of grassroots organization from across Chicago, including Jane Addams Senior Caucus, Chicago Housing Initiative, Raise Chicago, Action Now, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Chicago Teachers Union, Grassroots Collaborative, Lugenia Burns Hope Center, Illinois Hunger Coalition, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Metropolitan Tenants Organization, ONE Northside, People for Community Recovery, Southside Together Organizing for Power and SEIU* Healthcare Illinois Indiana.

Images: Jane Addams Senior Caucus

* The SEIU Illinois Council sponsors this website.

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