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In The Loop with CUPPA’s Research Centers – Spring 2023

Research Newsletter Header image of a city scape, phone, and fingers selecting image of the city from the phone

Spring 2023 Issue

In the Loop with CUPPA Research Centers is our internal e-newsletter featuring the ongoing research of centers in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs. Circulated twice yearly to faculty, staff, and students in the college, In the Loop provides a look at center work and projects.

Center for Urban Economic Development (CUED) Heading link

Center for Urban Economic Development (CUED)

CUED is partnering with four immigrant rights organizations in Florida and the National Day Laborer organizing network to examine the working conditions of informally employed laborers who are engaged in hurricane recovery efforts. The focus is on “second responders” who help communities recover following climate disasters yet are subjected to unsafe working conditions and high levels of wage theft.

Researchers at CUED are preparing to launch Wave 2 of the Just Recovery Survey, a study that examined racial and gender disparities in the economic security, well-being, and agency of working people amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The second wave will focus on workplace systems that monitor worker performance and productivity, often in ways that disproportionately impact workers of color. Administered in tandem with a national survey of Amazon warehouse workers, the study will contribute to a broader investigation of surveillance and tech-enabled management across the U.S. economy and at its largest employer.

Fiscal Futures Project (FFP) Heading link

Fiscal Futures Project (FFP)

Recent Fiscal Futures reports discussed the state of Illinois Fiscal condition in FY 2022 and FY2023. The FY2023 report found that Illinois emerged from the pandemic “in its strongest fiscal position in more than two decades” but cautioned that fiscal discipline will be required to maintain this enviable situation. Fiscal Futures researchers created an open data github website that provides comprehensive data about Illinois spending and revenue over more than two decades and documentation for computer programs to analyze the data. The research team has recently drafted a report about progress (and lack thereof) on Illinois’ open data initiative. A team of researchers assembled by Fiscal Futures has a forthcoming article in the Municipal Finance Journal on “Effects of Post-COVID Work from Home on the Spatial Distribution of Local Government Revenues in Illinois”. Fiscal Futures research about work from home continues with a manuscript describing work from home activities across the income distribution in Illinois. More work related to this topic is planned during the 2023-24 academic year. Fiscal Futures will also continue to track the fiscal conditions of the State of Illinois and continue research about the distributional effects of Illinois taxes. Fiscal Futures researchers are working closely with CUPPA’s Government Finance Research Center, CMAP and Cook County on a study of local property taxes.

Great Cities Institute (GCI) Heading link

Governor JB Pritzker released a report prepared by Great Cities Institute for/with the Illinois’ Immigrant Task Force

On May 3, 2023, at the Governor’s Mansion, Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Immigrant Impact Task Force released a report, which examines thirteen issues affecting immigrant, refugee, and limited English proficiency communities. The report, prepared by the Great Cities Institute with the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) provides recommendations that the state can use to improve services to immigrant communities. Some of the issues that the report identifies include citizenship assistance, business development, education access, discrimination prevention, immigration detention, COVID-19 relief, and language access programs.

The Illinois Immigrant Task Force is comprised of 27 members representing a broad and diverse group of agencies, organizations, and residents from across the state. As described by the Governor’s Office, “The report emphasizes the importance of programs and resources provided by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) in supporting immigrant communities and the importance of continuing to support them. These programs include language assistance, referrals to community resources, and the Refugee and Immigrant Services Program, which offers various services to help refugees and immigrants integrate into their new communities.”

In a press release from the Governor’s Office, State Senator Celina Villanueva states, “All immigrants face unique challenges in accessing the services and support they need to thrive and start their path toward a better life…We commend IDHS for making the needs and challenges of immigrants across Illinois a priority, as they are providing sustainable and sufficient resources to not only undocumented immigrants but to ALL immigrants who are in need.”

Senator Villanueva was among the panelists that joined Governor Pritzker and Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton to discuss issues affecting immigrant communities in Illinois. Other panelists included Dr. Maggie Rivera, President/CEO of the Illinois Migrant Council, Luis Gutierrez, CEO of Latinos Progresando, and Grace Pai, Executive Director of the Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

Click here to see the full report.

Government Finance Research Center (GFRC) Heading link

Government Finance Research Center (GFRC)

The GFRC continues to work on the Water Rate Setting Study for the Illinois General Assembly. The first report, which focuses on Northeast Illinois will be released in June, so stay tuned! In preparation for the second report, focused on the rest of the state, members of the GFRC attended the Illinois Rural Water Association conference in February 2023 and distributed a water rate survey among rural water providers in attendance.

In addition, the GFRC research team presented their work at the Urban Affairs Association Conference, which was held in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Laura Medwid, GFRC postdoctoral research associate, presented an analysis using municipal codes and ordinances related to drinking water provision. Jason Michnick, GFRC graduate research assistant and doctoral student of public administration, presented a comparative study of intergovernmental water organizations with a focus on governance, authority, and democratic accountability.

Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement (IPCE) Heading link

IPCE provides research support to the Office of Firearms Violence Prevention (OFVP)

IPCE is currently in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) to support its new Office of Firearms Violence Prevention unit, as it works to help prevent firearms violence in accordance with the Reimagine Public Safety Act. The office, housed within IDHS, distributes funding and provides technical assistance to organizations targeting firearms violence prevention in eligible areas of the state. IPCE is working to support the office and the Firearm Violence Research Group. IPCE also helps to facilitate and manage the academic research needs of the new Office of Firearm Violence Prevention (OFVP).

IPCE to design community engagement for CPD-ACLU Investigatory Stop Agreement

IPCE is working with the Independent Monitoring Team, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Chicago Police Department and the city of Chicago in conducting community engagement to support and implement policies against intrusive police stops. IPCE is leading the Co-Design Community Engagement for the CPD-ACLU Investigatory Stop Agreement. Our findings and best practices will be shared late summer.

IPCE helped to manage and facilitate a Community Task Force on Policing in the City of Elgin

IPCE partnered with Kearns & West, a facilitation and strategic communications firm, to create, manage, and facilitate a Community Task Force on Policing in the City of Elgin. With the assistance of facilitators, the Community Task Force on Policing reviewed the policies, procedures and practices the Elgin Police Department (EPD) employs to determine how EPD can most effectively and equitably deliver law enforcement services to all. The Task Force submitted their recommendations for viable solutions to enhance EPD service to and relationship with Elgin’s residents, visitors, businesses, and institutions to the Elgin City Council this past fall.

Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy (IRRPP) Heading link

Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy (IRRPP)

IRRPP’s programming series continue to build intellectual community on campus and increase the capacity of scholars to do transformative public policy work. Highlights from the Spring include a workshop with the Scholars Strategy Network as part of our Policy 101 Series that used improv methods to help scholars learn new ways to communicate their research to public audiences. A discussion as part of our WriteOut! program between IRRPP Associate Director Deana Lewis and Michelle R. Boyd, writing coach and former UIC professor, focused on helping scholars go from “stuck” to “unstuck” in their writing processes.

Our continuing monthly Race/Ethnicity workshops brought researchers from UIC and across Chicagoland together to discuss new cutting-edge research on racial inequities and included UIC faculty members Uchechi Mitchell and Stephanie Torres. The Annual Bowman Lecture featured Dr. Shawn Ginwright who discussed his roadmap for how social movements can pivot to achieve sustainable, systemic change.

Our continued partnership with the College of Medicine for a joint Embodied Inequalities/Begando Lecture led to Dr. Khiara M. Bridges presenting on how the complex relationship between race and class creates excess morbidity and mortality for Black people as they navigate the healthcare system.

As part of our State of Racial Justice in Chicago Project, IRRPP published a report on Arab Americans in Chicagoland in January of 2023. Following the launch event we organized with community partners, we have been presenting the report findings to organizations and community groups locally and nationally. We are currently working on two additional reports. The first is a focused on educational issues and draws on publicly available data to provide up-to-date statistics on patterns of racial equity. For the last year we have been working with community partners to identify key issues and policies that shape educational experiences and outcomes.

We are also producing a report for the Illinois Office to Prevent and End Homelessness on Black Homelessness in the state. For this report we are examining structural drivers of racial disproportionality in homelessness as well as the experiences of previously or currently unhoused Black individuals in the state of Illinois. The research team is conducting a series of focus groups with unhoused African American individuals across the state as well as multiple Listening Sessions with service providers and unhoused individuals for the report. We will also analyze administrative data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The report will include State level policy recommendations crafted with a Roundtable of experts on African American homelessness to be delivered to the Governor in the Fall of 2023.

Urban Transportation Center (UTC) Heading link

Urban Transportation Center (UTC)

Statewide Intercity Passenger Transportation in Illinois

This study provides an overview of the history and current funding processes associated with intercity bus services in Illinois and includes a demand-modeling component that helps identify the pockets of the greatest demand in Illinois for intercity bus services that operate entirely within the state. Research began with a detailed review of academic literature, governmental studies and resources, and not-for-profit analyses to identify past and current trends. The research, funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation, was greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; however, findings revealed how operators utilized federal 5311(f) funds, outlined areas for future investment (such as IT tracking of intercity buses and feeder vehicles), and modeling that shows service demands. Read a news story and access the complete report.

Equity Performance Measures: Invest in Cook Pilot and Statewide Application

The goals of this project, which is slated for completion in June 2023, are twofold: Explore current gaps in the elaboration of equity metrics in transportation investment programs, particularly for the Invest in Cook initiative; and, propose the development of equity-based metrics/performance measures with the aim of incorporating these metrics in the prioritization decision process. The research team initially conducted a literature review of indices developed to gauge transportation equity in transportation investment programs. As a second step, researchers developed equity metrics for scoring criteria in project prioritization. The main data source for the statistical analyses is Cook County prioritization workshop scores, quantitative and qualitative scores of each project, and awards assigned to the projects. The methods incorporate both qualitative and quantitative analyses to assess the equity performance of award assignment to the projects.

Regional Public Transit System Interconnectivity and Its Impact on Social Determinants of Health

The goal of this project, currently underway, is to examine the region where the North Central Illinois Council of Governments provides services to determine how to improve public transit system connectivity to the social determinants of health and quality of life. The study will develop supply and demand profiles for the region’s public transportation agencies that identify significant gaps in service. In addition, it will develop a profile of the demographics of the users, their ridership characteristics, interest in other transit technologies, satisfaction with service attributes, and perceptions about the CTA. Findings from the study will inform the policies that aim to expand the use of CTA website and bus tracker adoption by customers.

Building Multi-modal Connections to the Logistics Cluster Anchored by the I-57/I-294 Interchange: Connecting People to Work

Funded by the Illinois Department of Transportation, this study would evaluate investments needed to effectively connect multi-modal access to future development sites, including the two Amazon developments exceeding 4 million square feet under construction. Work underway includes a literature review that discusses the transit dependent populations, the problems of not collectively addressing these needs, and the importance of providing public transportation to transit disadvantaged populations. Researchers also are conducting semi-structured interviews of stakeholders including local officials, transit managers, and other advocacy groups representing the people in the south suburban region. Based on interview results, the research team will work with stakeholders such as RTA, Pace, Metra, and CTA to explore appropriate services that will address the need.

Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement Heading link

Nathalie P. Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement

The Voorhees Center is currently working on a series of projects on subjects ranging from green economic development to homelessness, including the following:

  • The Green Economy Ecosystem: Understanding Where Green Economy Firms are in the Chicago Region – dashboard and accompanying report that maps out Green Economy firms in the Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) (grouped into 15 clusters).
  • The Chicago Region Food Landscape – reviews data from 2010 to 2020 on employment, establishments, and annual wages for economic clusters related to food.
  • Untapped Talent in the Chicago Region – study and accompanying dashboard tool that identifies populations currently underrepresented in both the Green Economy and general workforce in the Chicago region and explores the barriers they face.
  • 2022 Chicago Point in Time Homeless Count – reporting on the number and demographics of both sheltered and unsheltered homeless in Chicago.

Also conducting stakeholder outreach and dissemination of recently published reports: