By Ashley Banks
Chicago’s Englewood residents were invited to an Englewood Town Hall meeting with the five aldermen whose wards are located in Englewood and West Englewood. Residents were given the opportunity to receive information on resources and offer suggestions on how to help improve conditions in the community and to interact with representatives directly.
The forum on January 14, 2020 at Kennedy King College, 6301 S. Halsted St., was hosted in the college’s Auditorium.
Representing their wards were Aldermen Raymond Lopez (15th), Stephanie Coleman (16th), Roderick Sawyer (6th), David Moore (17th) and Jeanette Taylor (20th).
State Representatives Lamont Robinson and Sonya Harper were present, as well as over 100 people that included many residents of Englewood, who came out to discuss the condition of Englewood.
Candidates such as Samantha Simpson, who is running in the upcoming election for State Representative, also showed support for the important event.
Lopez, alderman of the 15th Ward stated, “This is a great first step to working together for the entire community. So often we focus on what’s important to us, but today we set the tone for moving forward so we can address economic development, housing, homelessness, education, our families and our children.”
The last forum of this kind was 10 years ago.
The goal of the forum was to hear and answer questions from community residents and concerned people of Chicago. Aldermen were also looking to discuss economic development, homelessness, business and more. The aldermen listened to concerns and answered several questions from the audience.
The 20th Ward’s Taylor noted, “I’m excited about what has happened tonight. We got to hear from the community and I can’t wait to get to the table and actually talk and work toward what should happen in Englewood.”
The town hall meeting provided an outlet for residents to express concerns and suggest solutions.
Residents spoke regarding gentrification, a major concern among Englewood community members, who feel that gentrification and population decline have become a major problem in Chicago.
According to Community Data Snapshot statistics, between 2013 to 2017, Blacks (non-Hispanic) made up 94.6 percent of the population. The Census 2020 will provide more detail as to whether or not there is a decrease or increase in population.
Discrimination in regard to African Americans and the marijuana dispensary selection process was a second issue of concern as no licenses were issued to Black applicants. Marijuana Dispensary License fees are as high as $100,000 and the fee is nonrefundable.
The lack of resources for both adults and youth in regard to work and education was a third topic of interest. The issue of crime in the community was the subject least discussed.
Aisha Butler, president of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E) saw the forum in a positive light and explained, “R.A.G.E. attempted to get a forum in 2011. I’m excited to see this happening today and this is a step in a good direction.”
Other opinions about the town hall meeting varied and Chicago resident Robert McKay voiced the sentiments of many community residents. “Englewood has deliberately been destroyed by the corporations of Chicago to facilitate businesses and eliminate residents. We, residents and outside community members, need to stand up and stop the gentrification of Englewood.”
The aldermen present said they are looking forward to bringing change, and unity between government and residents in the Englewood community in Chicago.
No date for the next town hall meeting had been announced at Crusader deadline.