Senator Jackqueline Collins, Majority Caucus Whip, 16th Senate District

 

Dear friend,

2020 will go down in history as one of the hardest years. As almost never before in our history, we’ve been confronted by the challenges we face as a nation. A deadly pandemic claimed its first victim in Illinois within the 16th District. My efforts to secure regular COVID-19 testing here in Auburn Gresham took months of pressure. As this was going on, people took to the streets in outrage over the death of George Floyd and the innumerable other Black people who have lost their lives as a result of police action.

Whether it was a sobering reminder that we have still seen inaction on the part of the City of Chicago in preventing wrongful police raids that terrorize citizens, or that access to home lending and other financial tools that build generational wealth looks as unequal now as it did 50 years ago, this year has made it clear that we have so much to do.

Through all of that, I want to wish you a happy and safe holiday, and send you my wishes that 2021 will be a year where we mourn the losses and celebrate the joys of 2020 together and with the resolve to be the change we want to see. As a state-of-the-art vaccine begins to be deployed, I ask that you gather virtually when you can, that you keep that mask on and your hands washed, and that you maintain social distancing.

Here is a look back at some of what we accomplished in 2020.

A banner year for economic development

Auburn Gresham saw the beginning of several major projects that will have a transformative effect on the area this year. It is so gratifying to see these developments here in the 16th District after many years of disinvestment.

Metra

When I began lobbying for a Metra station that would serve the Southwest Side, I did not know it would take a decade and be met with historic challenges, including a delay in 2015. But now, finally, a decade of effort has come to fruition, and construction is beginning on a new Metra station on 79th Street. Access to transportation to the suburbs and through the heart of the city will be a major boon to Auburn Gresham.

548 Capital broke ground in November on new affordable housing units along 79th Street. This project by a Black-led firm will retrofit a building with solar energy and energy-efficient appliances at the same time it reinvests in the community.

This also brought news that the Green Era renewable energy facility will be located in Auburn Gresham. This project, supported in part by state funding, will take a vacant lot with contaminated soil and transform it into a state-of-the-art anaerobic digestion facility that takes in waste and puts out clean energy and rich soil that can be used by local growers.

Working together for health and safety

2020 has been a year where many people have done whatever they can wherever they can to try to help their friends and neighbors. I was fortunate to be able to have the means to spread the word about the importance of good public health practices and to distribute personal protective equipment, masks, and sanitizer in the community.

In June, I visited the local establishments where real talk happens: Barber shops and hair braiding salons. Part of that was to celebrate Juneteenth, to hear concerns, and to talk about the importance of the 2020 Census. I also passed out PPE.

I also partnered with the Friends of Taiwan Foundation to pass out PPE to veterans and seniors, two groups that have been most in need of additional aid during this pandemic.

Helping feed the hungry

This year was unlike any other I have served as Senator for the 16th Illinois Senate District. The holidays are always a time when we see needs increase, and the pandemic has only worsened things. I was proud to work alongside Social Change and the Inner-City Muslim Action Network for a Thanksgiving turkey giveaway.

New art installation in Auburn Gresham

I also had the privilege of meeting artist Eric Stephenson (center left). His art piece, “Vessel,” was unveiled in the Auburn Gresham community near the corner of 79th and Halsted. This is another piece made possible by the efforts of Chicago Sculpture Exhibit, an organization that has put up dozens of art pieces in public places. President Pam Cullerton (center right) and Treasurer Vi Daley (right) joined us for the unveiling.

As we look ahead to 2021, I am interested in your hopes and concerns for the upcoming legislative session. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact my office. In the meantime, have a happy holiday and a happy new year.

Sincerely,

Jacqueline Collins
State Senator, 16th Illinois Senate District

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Contact Info

Chicago Office:
1155 W. 79th St.
Chicago, IL 60620
(773) 224-2830

Springfield Office:
M114 Capitol
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-1607