The Crusader Newspaper Group

Mayor Lightfoot reflects on City of Chicago’s progress in 2021

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and her administration are lifting up key accomplishments on behalf of the residents of Chicago over the course of 2021, a year of recovery and investments. With equity as its North Star, the Lightfoot administration passed the most transformative budget in the city’s history, ensured that all communities had access to the life-saving vaccine, and focused unprecedented resources on public safety.  These investments, along with major reforms and initiatives made over the year, set Chicago on a path to continue to empower residents, transform neighborhoods, create jobs, and bring new businesses to the city.

“The year of 2021 continued our fight against the pandemic and the surge in gun violence.  Despite these challenges, we rose to meet them and made some remarkable progress on behalf of our residents. More hard work lies ahead in 2022, but it is important to reflect not just on the challenges but also on the opportunities. I want to thank all of our city and sister agency leadership as well as the front-line workers who delivered for Chicagoans. I also want to acknowledge and thank the vast number of community partners whose partnership is essential to the work that we do day in and day out for our residents. We made enormous progress this year in our work to improve the lives of Chicagoans,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “From ensuring residents’ access to vaccines, to working hard to make our neighborhoods safer, to the passage of a historic budget and everything in between, we have been laser-focused on investing in our communities. Our work isn’t done. We’re aiming higher to do even greater things for Chicagoans in 2022 with the once-in-a-lifetime resources that we now have at our disposal. We are ready and excited about the opportunities that the new year will bring.”

Keeping Communities Safe 

  • Mayor Lightfoot focused Administration efforts around the common enemies driven violence: gangs, illegal guns, and lack of investment in people and places.
  • The Lightfoot administration launched the first-of-its-kind Community Safety Coordination Center (CSCC). The CSCC is a multi-agency coordination center that brings together in one space all of the various facets of community safety from police, mental health, to youth and family services to coordinate and collaborate both within city government and with community partners all in an effort to comprehensively address neighborhood-specific public safety needs, building on the lessons learned from the City’s coordinated response to the pandemic.
  • Launched a pilot program for the summer of 2021 which focused on the 15 most violent police beats and brought a whole of government coordination and resource approach to meet community needs and quell violence.
  • CPD activated a new crime fighting program powered by community collaboration, the Gun Trafficking and Homicide Tip Line. Anonymous callers whose tips lead to charges and/or convictions will get a cash reward of up to $5,000 for gun trafficking cases and up to $15,000 in homicide cases. The tip line is available at 833-408-0069 or 312-746-7330.
  • Created the first-ever comprehensive city-wide strategy to address gender-based violence (GBV) and human trafficking. The work to build this plan began in February 2021 when Mayor Lightfoot launched the GBV Advisory Council. Since then, the City has led a robust and inclusive community engagement process, bringing together community partners, survivors, and City officials to define key problems and solutions-driven strategies.
  • Mayor Lightfoot and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection created the Business Compliance Task Force and the Summer Violence Reduction Initiative to promote compliance with COVID-19 guidelines and assist the Chicago Police Department (CPD) with large gatherings and illegal events that could lead to crime. This task force conducted more than 1,000 investigations, and issued more than 1,000 citations for violations of the licensing code and COVID-19 guidelines.
  • The Lightfoot administration sued the top out-of-state supplier of crime guns recovered by CPD for selling to straw purchasers.
  • The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), CPD and CFD coordinated to launch the Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement (CARE) pilot program to more effectively respond to 9-1-1 calls related to mental health crises. Response teams include specially trained paramedics, mental health clinicians, and a police officer who has completed the City’s Crisis Intervention training. The Lightfoot administration and City Council also passed a historic increase in funding for public mental health services in the FY 2022 City budget.
  • CPD trained and activated victims’ services and street outreach teams in de-escalation techniques to prevent violent situations; and trained victim services staff link survivors, victims and impacted families with support.
  • The Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS), the Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC), CPD and the Chicago Fire Department (CFD), coordinated enhanced service delivery to focus on 15 police beats with elevated crime to work to reduce violence over the summer.
  • CPD and CDPH expanded the Narcotics Arrest Diversion Program to divert individuals with substance use disorders away from the criminal justice system and toward treatment and recovery services. The Drug Arrest Diversion Program will also expand further in the new year, which will reduce time officers spend on arrests related to substance use, freeing them to focus on the investigation and deterrence of violent crime.
  • Mayor Lightfoot and the City Council passed historic legislation to create an independent civilian oversight body to oversee the Chicago Police Department, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), and the Police Board. This groundbreaking proposal represents a long-awaited milestone in Mayor Lightfoot’s ongoing commitment to reform CPD into a national leader on constitutional policing and building trust between communities and the CPD.
  • Through One Summer Chicago, the City invested more than $17 million in 20,000 youth jobs, and piloted the Youth Kickback program, which employed hundreds of young people to plan 150 South and West Side community events. The City also provided programming for more than 473,000 youth through camps and other out-of-school programs; and partnered with Rainbow PUSH and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to host the citywide “Race to Gately” track and field event, engaging hundreds of young people at the new Gately Track and Field Center.
  • The Lightfoot administration invested $3.6 million in federal CARES Act funding in assisting survivors of domestic violence (DV) in 2021, including the creation of a DV Legal Advocacy Hotline; the creation of a new DV Hotel Room Program, which houses, feed and provides services to survivors and their children; and the creation of the Expedited Housing Initiative to house homeless DV survivors.

Equitable Economic Recovery 

  • The Department of Housing (DOH) announced the largest ever investment in affordable housing in the City’s history totaling $1 billion. The City is also acquiring the single largest parcel of vacant developable land in Pilsen, which will be used to build affordable housing. DOH also announced $170 million in assistance for renters and landlords impacted by the pandemic, and released the “Blueprint for Fair Housing,” a five-year plan to address housing segregation.
  • Mayor Lightfoot commemorated the two-year anniversary of the INVEST South/West Initiative which has demonstrated $1.4 B in public private partnership investments and commitments to date in the Lightfoot Administration’s signature economic investment initiative.  Also, announced $126 million in new mixed-use projects in these same corridors.
  • The City of Chicago issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the opportunity to apply for the sole casino license. Five proposals were submitted for consideration in developing a world-class casino-resort and entertainment experience in Chicago.
  • Choose Chicago launched a neighborhood tourism campaign, including the $2.3 million Chicago Al Fresco initiative to create community spaces anchored by outdoor dining to enhance public life, community, arts, culture, walking and biking.
  • Mayor Lightfoot championed the passage of the #ChiBizStrong legislative package, cutting red tape and creating relief for small businesses and expanding worker protections. The City also provided more than $10 million in grants for businesses particularly impacted by the pandemic.
  • The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) announced “Arts77,” a citywide arts recovery and reopening plan, representing an investment of more than $60 million to support local artists and organizations.
  • BACP extended the Expanded Outdoor Dining Program, allowing more than 400 establishments to operate on streets, sidewalks, parking lots and other private property.
  • The City approved more building permits for 2021 than in 2020, and building permits for new construction in 2021 increased 28% over 2020.
  • 172 businesses relocated or expanded in Chicago in 2021, including Kimberly Clark, John Deere, Cisco, Tegus, and The Scion Group.
  • 2021 saw a record number of tech “unicorns”, or companies valued at $1 billion, that included 12 Chicago startups. This is a more than 60% increase over 2020.
  • The City opened applications for the Chicago Works Community Challenge, a $10 million competition calling on residents and community experts to put forward their biggest and best infrastructure improvement ideas.
  • The Lightfoot administration announced initiatives to level the playing field for women and minority-owned businesses seeking to contract with the City: the City of Chicago Vendor Impact Fund to offer capital access to diverse contractors and vendors; the Prompt Payment Working Group to ensure that City vendors are paid in a timely manner; and an Executive Order requiring enhanced reporting on spending with local certified firms and on business diversity programs.
  • The Department of Law (DOL) filed suit against Grubhub and DoorDash for deceptive and unfair business practices that harm Chicago restaurants and mislead consumers. The lawsuits were the result of a collaborative investigation led by BACP and the DOL, and are the first comprehensive law enforcement actions against meal delivery companies in the United States.
  • The Office of Labor Standards (OLS) recouped nearly $1 million for Chicago’s workers through two major settlements. OLS also implemented the new Wage Theft protections, expanded Chicago’s Paid Sick Leave law, and delivered additional worker protections as part of Mayor Lightfoot’s bold Chi Biz Strong Initiative.
  • As of July 2021, the City of Chicago remains the only municipality in Illinois with a $15 per hour minimum wage.
  • The Lightfoot administration forged an agreement to provide water to the City of Joliet, the first new regional water supply contract in approximately 30 years, for approximately $1 billion.

Improving City Services  

  • The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) launched Mayor Lightfoot’s five-year, multi-billion Chicago Works jobs and infrastructure plan. CDOT repaved 165 miles of streets and alleys; completed 6,000 ADA compliant curb cuts; and installed 1,950 new streetlight poles and wiring. CDOT completed an unprecedented number of projects to improve safety for people who walk and ride bikes, including 400 pedestrian safety projects and more than 45 miles of new and upgraded bike lanes, and two major pedestrian and bike infrastructure projects, the Navy Pier Flyover and 312 RiverRun.
  • DSS Street Sweepers cleaned 224,568 miles of residential streets and 7,274 alleys. Together, they collected 144,681 cubic yards of debris.
  • All Chicago Public Libraries (CPL) branches are now open Sunday hours, expanding seven-day-a-week service to every community with the support of Mayor Lightfoot.
  • Mayor Lightfoot, CDPH and other City and community leaders declared that racism is a public health crisis in the City of Chicago. The 9.2-year life expectancy gap between Black and non-Black Chicagoans, which has increased in the past decade, and the declining life expectancy rates of Asian and Latino Chicagoans, requires the City to build on its work to improve anti-racist policies that address the root causes of inequities affecting Chicagoans of color.
  • The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) completed the O’Hare Modernization Program. Over 16 years, the $6 billion investment reconfigured and modernized the airfield and paved the way for upcoming terminal redevelopment. These runway projects created more than 4,900 jobs and reduced system impact delays by 64%.
  • The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability allocated $188 million to climate and environmental justice initiatives in the FY 2022 budget–the largest environmental investment in the City’s history.
  • The City updated its tree planting strategy to more equitably expand the tree canopy, utilizing public health data and community partnerships to plant 75,000 trees over the next 5 years.
  • Mayor Lightfoot continued to address the burden of fines and fees on working families through the Utility Billing Relief program, reducing debt burdens for low-income homeowners. More than 17,000 households enrolled in this program. 93% of households enrolled for more than one year–or more than 7,600, successfully reached their anniversary with zero balance and had their debt forgiven.
  • Mayor Lightfoot announced the City will invest $10 million in a 3-year Reentry Workforce program for training and wrap-around supports for formerly incarcerated residents to attain employment and stabilization, and $3 million in expanded community legal services like expungement and record sealing.
  • The City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) marked one year of the Fresh Start debt forgiveness program, giving more than 900 Chicagoans the chance to return to college.

Keeping Up the Fight Against COVID-19 

  • Mayor Lightfoot and CDPH opened a mass vaccination site at United Center, set up community clinics at City Colleges, hosted pop-up events, and launched an at-home vaccination program, administering nearly 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses. CCC and CDPH also offer a free Vaccine Ambassador course in English and Spanish at Malcolm X College.
  • CDPH and the City of Chicago launched Protect Chicago 77, a citywide campaign designed to engage people in the city’s 77 community areas to get vaccinated and encourage and ensure that 77 percent of all Chicagoans ages 5+ and up started their COVID-19 vaccination series by the end of the year. The City reached that goal several weeks early on November 23, 2021.
  • CDPH and the City launched Protect Chicago Plus in early February, focusing on 15 highly impacted communities by providing support during the vaccine roll out in communities where it was needed the most. CDPH and Mayor Lightfoot also launched the Protect Chicago At Home program where Chicagoans ages 5 + can request to be vaccinated at home with friends and relatives, and receive a gift. As of December 27th, 2021, the Protect Chicago At Home program has administered a total of 19,178 vaccine doses.
  • CPS reopened for in-person learning in the spring and opened safely in the Fall.
  • Through the Chicago Families Forward Fund, CPS distributed $9 million in relief funds to housing insecure CPS families. CDPH, CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union partnered to host vaccination events for CPS families.
  • CPS is investing more than $525 million through the Moving Forward Together plan to address the academic and social-emotional impacts of COVID-19 on school communities. CPS targeted more than 100,000 students at-risk of not returning after summer. By the first week of school, 86 percent of the students identified for re-engagement were actively enrolled or had graduated. Additionally, CPS provided summer programming to more than 95,000 students, more than doubling summer programming.
  • The Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) and the City invested $35 million in federal COVID-relief funding to support homeless individuals at high risk of COVID-19, including rapidly moving individuals out of shelters and encampments and into stable housing.
  • Mayor Lightfoot passed the Hotel Workers Right to Return Ordinance, requiring Chicago hotels to rehire qualified employees laid off in the wake of COVID-19 before hiring new employees. In additional efforts to protect workers, BACP prohibited employers from retaliating against workers for taking time to get the COVID-19 vaccine through the Vaccine Anti-Retaliation ordinance.
  • The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) and CDPH collaborated to increase disability access to COVID-19 testing, making testing sites accessible to people with disabilities including individuals who use Pace paratransit, and who are blind/low vision and deaf and hard of hearing. MOPD helped create a COVID-19 testing video in American Sign Language and provided clear masks at testing and vaccine sites to allow for lip-reading. MOPD and CDPH collaborated to increase the COVID-19 vaccine access for the disability community.

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