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

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

Fall 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 researchers Beth Gutelius and Sanjay Pinto released the first in a series of reports based on a 1,484-person survey of Amazon workers across 451 facilities in 42 states––the largest nationwide survey of Amazon workers to date. The new report, Pain Points: Data on Work Intensity, Monitoring, and Health at Amazon Warehouses, concludes that pain and injury are more widespread than previous thought, and that the pace of work and workplace monitoring contribute to health challenges at the company. Media coverage included Bloomberg, CBS News, CNBC, Gizmodo, the LA Times, In These Times, and other outlets.

The Solidarity Economy Research Policy & Law Project is serving as the Research & Convening Hub for the City of Chicago’s Community Wealth Building Initiative (CWBI). The Mayor’s Office for Economic and Racial Justice has made a two-year, $15 million investment the CWBI, which will support development that promotes the local, democratic, and shared ownership and control of community assets.

Fiscal Futures Project (FFP) Heading link

Fiscal Futures Project (FFP)

The Fiscal Futures team continues to do research about “work from home” and recently obtained access to a major data source showing the location of cell phones over time. This data can be used to better understand the time people spend in various locations including workplaces. Some of the preliminary findings using other data sources are discussed in our paper, “Working from Home in Illinois: Who Can and Does?” by Alea Wilbur-Mujtaba, Francis Choi, Xiaoyan Hu, and David Merriman, interim director of the University of Illinois’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs and professor of Public Policy, Management, and Analytics, which will be published in the U of I’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs Policy Spotlight series in December.

Great Cities Institute (GCI) Heading link

Great Cities Institute (GCI)

GCI has partnered with the City of Chicago Office of Budget Management, Mayor’s Office of Community Engagement Office, and Office of Equity and Racial Justice to co-design budget engagement for the 2022, 2023, and 2024 city budgets. GCI produces an annual report that documents the engagement process and results. The purpose is to create more meaningful and useful budget engagement processes and results and to increase transparency around budget engagement. As a part of this process, the Office of Budget Management used GCI’s 2022 report to develop Community-Identified Budget Ideas and connect these ideas to a City Department and corresponding program/service that addressed the idea and was funded in the City budget. Community-identified budget ideas have been revisited in 2023 and 2024 budget engagements, along with collecting new ideas, to determine their continued importance for investment, create data standards, and increase transparency and accountability.

GCI Senior Fellow, Juan González, authored a report, The Current Migrant Crisis: How U.S. Policy Toward Latin America Has Fueled Historic Numbers of Asylum Seekers. “The report briefly outlines the evidence that U.S. economic warfare against three specific countries – Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua – is a significant cause of the latest migration surge. It argues, furthermore, that progressive U.S. leaders and the general public should advocate for a more humane and responsible foreign policy – one that could not only dramatically reduce migration from the region but also address the mushrooming labor shortage within the U.S.” You can find Juan discussing the report on a Democracy Now, aired on October 26, 2023.

GCI coordinates and manages the Right to Counsel in Immigration Proceedings Task Force, which was established by the Illinois General Assembly to investigate the possibility of establishing state-funded legal representation to persons in immigration court removal proceedings. The research agenda of the task force, staffed by GCI fellow Rob Paral, includes analysis of immigration court data records, investigation of comparable programs in other states, and compilation of data on existing state investments in legal services. A final task force report is expected by the end of calendar 2023. In the meantime, here is a report that GCI did with the Illinois Immigrant Impact Task Force.

GCI launched its Latino Research Initiative on September 12. Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia provided congratulatory remarks and Juan González gave a keynote address. The Symposium included multiple panelswith both UIC Latino researchers and various GCI partners.  Reports that were discussed included: Puerto Rico Town Databook; Who Lives in Pilsen? The Trajectory of Gentrification in Pilsen in the Last Two DecadesThe Western Suburbs Micro-data SiteFact Sheets on the Growth Patterns of Latinos throughout Illinois¡Actívate! A community-data driven guide to help Latinas and their families thriveThe Illinois Immigrant Impact Task Report; the forthcoming update of the Latino Neighborhoods Report; and Latinos in the Suburbs: Challenges and Opportunities.  Juan González and Teresa Córdova appeared on WTTW’s Latino Voices to discuss the initiative and Teresa also spoke on WGN’s Adelante.

Kathleen Yang-Clayton, visiting senior research sellow at GCI, co-created a new paid internship program for CUPPA undergraduates in partnership with the Wieboldt Foundation in AY2022. The internship was in response to the growing need among community-based organizations for new organizers who understand policy issues and the power of community organizing.  In AY2023, its inaugural year, five CUPPA undergraduates are being trained in community organizing practices and current policy challenges, as well as being provided opportunities to practice through site placement at one of the local community organizing nonprofits funded by the Wieboldt Foundation. The goal of this program next year is to partner with more foundations across the region and to triple paid internship opportunities for CUPPA students. Current CUPPA students include Abigail Davis (Wieboldt Foundation), Salvador Delgado (Organizing Neighborhoods for Equality: Northside), Miguel Garcia (Palenque Logan Square Neighborhood Association), Sean Haran (Kenwood Oakland Community Organization), and Wilma Mendoza (Brighton Park Neighborhood Council)

GCI’s Thea Crum partnered with People Powered to develop and launch the Participatory Budgeting (PB) Playbook. The PB Playbook is an interactive, online guide to help advocates, policymakers, program managers, and government reformers win approval for and implement a PB program. The PB Playbook includes key design questions and options to help guide users’ thought processes as well as relevant resources, data, and information so that they can make informed decisions. After completing the questionnaires, users will have a customized action plan, a personal playbook. Ms. Crum created the initial content and was the lead content editor for the PB Playbook. The content was reviewed and tested by dozens of PB practitioners and researchers around the world. Their feedback was used to revise and improve the content. Four Participation Playbooks were developed by People Powered: participatory policymaking, citizens’ assemblies/ juries, PB, and legislative theater.

On September 6, GCI released a report assessing voting patterns in Chicago’s 2023 Mayoral election. The report, authored by Juan González and Matt Wilson, provides details on the racial and ethnic voting patterns in this election, how those trends compare to the historic 1983 victory of Harold Washington, and possible lessons to be learned from the data.

The “Illinois Racial Justice & Equity Landscape Study” is a comprehensive research endeavor commissioned by Grand Victoria Foundation (GVF) and conducted by GCI. The study seeks to shed light on the challenges faced by Black communities across Illinois, focusing on 81 “Black population centers” throughout the state where 30 percent or more of the residents identify as Black. Through extensive data collection and analysis, the study paints a nuanced picture of the state of Black populations in these areas. The study identifies over 1,500 organizations actively working to improve outcomes within these communities, showcasing the resilience and determination of local stakeholders. Based on the research findings, GVF and GCI provide recommendations on how philanthropic, civic, and corporate entities can support these communities in achieving their desired outcomes. GVF and GCI aim to use this research to identify ways to support their efforts towards equity and justice.

As part of GCI’s ongoing commitment to the Southeast Side, GCI has partnered with the Southeast Environmental Task Force to help facilitate public access to the Calumet River between 96th and 100th Street. This past October the project team coordinated a site walkthrough followed by a community conversation at a local restaurant. The event included over 40 participants of residents, and representatives from local community groups. After walking through the site, the group met up at a local restaurant, for a visioning discussion.

An interdisciplinary team from GCI, UIC’s Freshwater Lab, and the Sustainable Engineering Lab produced a report, “From Waste to Water: A Framework for Sustainable Freshwater Supply in Northeastern Illinois,” for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Great Chicago. The report is especially relevant considering recent agreements by the City of Chicago to sell its potable drinking water to Joliet, including industrial use in an area with a large industrial footprint. The report emphasize that water recycling maximizes available water supply and supports commercial endeavors in situations of scarcity represents an essential piece of such adaptive infrastructure. The report addresses technical issues around treatment and delivery of recycled water as well as its public health and environmental implications; provides a cost-benefit analysis that serves to overcome political and economic barriers to adoption; suggests that large-scale water reuse can play a role in job creation and economic revitalization; and addresses scenarios and solutions for uneven water geography in northeastern Illinois, characterized by urban flooding along the Lake Michigan coast and impending collapse of the inland Cambrian-Ordovician aquifer.

The Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement published an article authored by the GCI director, Teresa Córdova, staff member, Alex Linares, and former research fellow, Natalia Villamizar Duarte, titled “Effects of Service-Learning and Community Engagement Programs on the Academic Outcomes of Underrepresented Undergraduate Students.” This research suggests that the cocurricular service-learning model, offered by UIC’s Honors College, and the community-based internship model, offered by the Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement’s (IPCE) Urban Public Policy Fellowship (UPPF) program, are the types of program models that play an important role in helping students improve their academic outcomes such as GPA, credits earned, and graduation rates. The article was a part of a special issue published in September that centered on a 5-year research project that involved six universities as a part of a grant from the U.S Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE).

GCI partnered with Healthy Communities Foundation and The Community Memorial Foundation to provide data on Latinos in the Chicago Western Suburbs that will equip community leaders to advocate for greater inclusion in public decision-making that affects Latinos, their families, and their neighborhoods. The individuals who would benefit from new data include local residents, elected officials, municipal employees, advocates, and the news media. The microsite provides data that Latinos in the suburbs have grown at a high rate within the last decade and now account for 60 percent of all Latinos in the Chicago metro area and there are an estimated 199,542 total Latinos in the Western Suburbs. Alex Linares, GCI economic development planner, presented the microsite data during a panel discussion at the 2023 Raíces Public Policy Conference for the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Foundation held in Malcolm X College.

Government Finance Research Center (GFRC) Heading link

Government Finance Research Center (GFRC)

GFRC released its first deliverable from the Water Rate Setting Study, commissioned by the Illinois General Assembly. The report, focusing on Northeast Illinois, examines the water rate setting practice, the components of water bills, the definition of water affordability, challenges with rate setting among economically disadvantaged communities, the role of government policy in rate setting, reasons for water rate increases, and opportunities for increased intergovernmental coordination for setting equitable water rates. Data used in the report are available on the GFRC website. Following the release of the report, the GFRC Director, Dr. Deborah A. Carroll provided testimony to the City of Chicago Committee on Finance, during a hearing focused on Resolution R2023-775. Ongoing work aims to understand the entire state’s drinking water landscape. The GFRC team continues to share study findings in academic venues and has recently presented papers at the Association for Budgeting & Financial Management Annual Conference.

Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement (IPCE) Heading link

Second Community Survey Report for the Chicago Police Consent Decree Released

IPCE completed and delivered the second community survey report for the Independent Monitoring Team for the ongoing Chicago Police Consent Decree, led by Maggie Hickey. The Independent Monitoring Team submitted the second Community Survey Report (Conducted October 2021 – May 2022) under ¶¶ 645-51 of the Consent Decree, released on May 30, 2023.

The report details survey responses from a large, representative sample of Chicagoans: 1,129 randomly selected Chicagoans across all races and 301 responses of young Black men in Chicago between the ages of 18 and 25. This survey asked about overall police services, effectiveness, community engagement, responsiveness, trustworthiness, and procedural justice, contact and interactions with the CPD, misconduct complaints and investigations, and confidence in reform. View the full report at this link.

Community Recommendations for CPD Investigatory Stops, Protective Pat Downs, and Searches Released

IPCE completed and delivered the Consultant Report: Community Recommendations for CPD Investigatory Stops, Protective Pat Downs, and Searches, led by Consultant Maggie Hickey. The report was released on October 3rd, 2023.

The ACLU of Illinois, the City of Chicago, and Chicago Police Department are working with an Independent Consultant, Maggie Hickey, to help CPD improve its policies, training, and practices for stops and pat downs. Together, the parties selected three community organizations — Lawndale Christian Legal Center, Equiticity, and Center on Halsted — through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process to co-design a citywide community-led process to engage community members’ perspectives on how and when officers should conduct stops, protective pat downs, and searches of people through community dialogue sessions.

Maggie Hickey invited IPCE to lead and facilitate the co-design community engagement plan and present a summary report of key findings and themes from those conversations. This report summarizes the ideas, concerns, and experiences community members shared through 17 community dialogue sessions. It also includes partner recommendations regarding CPD’s stop and protective pat down practices. View the full report at this link.

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

Working with Journalists: Building Relationships & Preparing for Interviews

Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy (IRRPP)

IRRPP’s programming series continues to build intellectual community on the UIC campus and increase the capacity of scholars to do transformative public policy work.

A recent event featured Dr. Michelle Manno, who spoke about her recent book, Denied: Women, Sports, and the Contradictions of Identity. She was joined by UIC Women’s Basketball head coach, Ashleen Bracey, and UIC Women’s Basketball team member, Kristian Young.

IRRPP is hosting the upcoming Policy 101 workshop with the Scholars Strategy Network, a hands-on training for scholars looking to do more media work and who need advice on how to prepare for interviews and build relationships with members of the media.

IRRPP’s continuing monthly Race/Ethnicity workshops have brought researchers from UIC and across Chicagoland together to discuss new cutting-edge research on racial inequities and have featured Karin Martin from the University of Washington, Dara Strolovitch from Yale University, and Anthony Chen and Leoandra Onnie Rogers from Northwestern University. The “Embodied Inequalities” conversation on the Treatment Not Trauma campaign scheduled for the end of November will center on the work ahead to support mental health wellness and people experiencing a mental health crisis.

As part of the State of Racial Justice in Chicago Project, IRRPP participated in a November 9 campus launch of a report on Arab Americans in Chicagoland.

Work on a report for the Illinois Office to Prevent and End Homelessness on Black Homelessness in the state has also continued. IRRPP is examining structural drivers of racial disproportionality in homelessness and the experiences of previously or currently unhoused Black individuals in the state of Illinois. The report will include State level policy recommendations crafted with a roundtable of experts on African American homelessness and will be launched in February of 2024. Following that report, IRRPP will undertake a similar research project looking at Latine Homelessness in Illinois.

Urban Transportation Center (UTC) Heading link

Railroad-Highway Crossing Safety Improvement Evaluation and Prioritization Tool

Urban Transportation Center (UTC)

UTC RR Crossing Safety Study

The wide range of models and tools in place to improve safety at railroad crossings in Illinois have limitations, prompting a need to develop improvements that address the presence of pedestrians, different types of circuitry for warning devices, and projected number of accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians. These are among the primary findings from a research study, “Railroad-Highway Crossing Safety Improvement Evaluation and Prioritization Tool,” completed by UTC and funded through the Illinois Center for Transportation. Researchers learned through a study of the models and tools used by different states that many states employed customized state-specific models, while others directly adopted the accident prediction model proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The researchers faced two challenges during the study: 1) Analyzing pedestrian activity at grade crossings in the months following the COVID 19 pandemic, when fewer people were outside. 2) Working with two sets of collision data provided by the Federal Railroad Administration.

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:

  • Untapped Talent in the Chicago Region – a 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.
  • Redeveloping Brownfields – a study and interactive map examining the potential for the redevelopment of brownfield sites throughout the Chicago region.
  • Plan for Transformation – an assessment of the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation, a 2000 plan to rehabilitate and replace the City’s public housing stock.
  • 2024 Chicago Point in Time Homeless Count – a project reporting on the number and demographics of both sheltered and unsheltered homeless in Chicago.
  • As coordinator and research arm of the Illinois Defense Manufacturing Consortium (ILDMC), the Voorhees Center:
    • Completed analysis of the casting and forging sector in the region;
    • Finalized ‘Tools and Resources Addendum’ to the casting and forging study; and
    • Launched workforce study of the casting and forging sector.
  • Finalizing preparations to launch Economic Impact Analysis of NASA spending.

Providing demographic data and information on the prevalence of quality-of-life amenities (air conditioning; internet access; dish washers, etc.) to support efforts of the Chatham Initiative.