CHICAGO – The state-operated community-based testing site at Foreman Mills has moved to a new location at the former Save-A-Lot at 7938 S. Halsted St. as of Jan. 2, and will continue providing free COVID-19 testing without the need for insurance, referrals or appointments, State Senator Jacqueline Collins announced today.

“I am glad to continue working alongside Gov. Pritzker and the Illinois Dept. of Public Health to ensure that this state-run testing site, the only one in Chicago, remains operational and located here in Auburn Gresham, one of the parts of the city that has been the hardest hit by the pandemic and home of the first known COVID-19 case and death,” Collins said. “I urge everyone to get the word out about the new location for this site, and I encourage everyone to take the time to get tested.”

The test site will operate from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day of the week except Tuesday.

Collins was a vocal advocate for bringing a state-run, free testing site to the Auburn Gresham area, which opened this past spring – first located at the Studio Movie Grill, then at Foreman Mills and now at the former Save-A-Lot.

All Illinois Dept. of Public Health-operated community-based testing sites like the South Halsted Street location are open to anyone, and those seeking testing need not exhibit symptoms. A complete list of these community-based testing sites can be found on the Illinois Dept. of Public Health website at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/testing.

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001collinsCHICAGO – As COVID-19 cases rise to levels worse than they were during the initial outbreak, State Senator Jacqueline Collins said the Illinois General Assembly’s decision to postpone legislative session is the right one, but lawmakers must not lose sight of efforts to fight systemic racism.

“We must treat this virus seriously,” said Collins (D-Chicago). “While the safe and responsible thing to do now is to postpone meeting, one of our top priorities when we do return should be legislation tackling racism in Illinois.”

Collins led a Senate committee hearing to highlight systemic racism in access to home lending during the fall, part of an ongoing effort by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus to identify measures that will put Illinois on a course for racial and economic equity. The Black Caucus has focused on reform in the areas of criminal justice and police accountability, education and workforce development, economic access, and health care and human services as its major policy goals.

Since September, the Senate has hosted subject matter hearings on these four policy pillars in an effort to provide legislators and the public with a deeper look into the Black experience in Illinois. The hearings, which are set to wrap up this week, have served as an opportunity to gather facts and recommendations to help the Black Caucus formulate a specific legislative agenda for when the General Assembly next convenes.

“When race is still the greatest predictor of whether someone gets a home loan, whether someone can cash a paycheck at a bank, whether they die by police or from the coronavirus, then we are forced to reckon with the sobering truth that our systems are racist,” Collins said. “I believe more Illinoisans than ever are grappling with this truth, and I urge them to make their voices heard to all their representatives in government as we await the next legislative session.”

The General Assembly is expected to convene prior to the spring session.

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CHICAGO – The John Howard Association has named State Senator Jacqueline Collins its 2020 Legislator of the Year, highlighting her work in criminal justice reform. The prison oversight group honored Collins Thursday during a virtual forum on pandemic conditions within the prison system.
 
“There can be no criminal justice reform without prison reform,” Collins said. “And if we truly believe in the redemption of the lost, reform must seek to restore and rehabilitate the human dignity and self-esteem of the incarcerated.”
 
The award comes as Collins sponsors Senate Bill 3479 during the upcoming fall legislative session, which would require authorities to investigate and report any deaths of those in police or correctional custody to the Illinois Attorney General within 30 days of their death, and that all such reports must be made searchable through the websites of the Secretary of State, Department of Juvenile Justice, and Department of Corrections.
 
In recent years, Collins has maintained a strong record on criminal justice reform, pushing for more avenues for those wrongfully included on the Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth registry to request a review and seek corrections for errors. She also fought to remove fees associated with expunging juvenile criminal records, pushed to more strictly limit the offenses that automatically disqualify individuals from employment with a park district, and has pushed for fairer rules regarding with whom those on parole may associate without prior required written permission when they work in community programs, worship services, volunteering, and engaging families, ensuring fewer unfair parole violations for those reentering their community in good faith.

001collinsCollins calls for more answers from banks as reports, studies highlight inequities

CHICAGO – Testimony from advocates, state government agencies, and banks themselves were all in agreement Thursday: Race remains the biggest predictor of whether somebody is approved for a home loan, and a major factor in how homes are evaluated in an appraisal process. The result, according to reports, studies, and testimony from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, is that Black homeowners in Illinois are simply not receiving loans at anywhere near the rate of homeowners in majority-white neighborhoods.

State Senator Jacqueline Collins, chair of the Illinois Senate Financial Institutions Committee, convened a joint hearing on the topic Thursday, bringing in the Senate Commerce and Economic Development and Senate Executive Committees to discuss the causes of this disparity, with testimony from IDFPR, representatives of the Illinois and Chicago housing authorities, Treasurer Michael Frerichs and representatives of various housing advocacy agencies. Some members of major banks submitted written testimony or attended the virtual hearing, but only JP Morgan Chase’s representative spoke.

“What we want to see is a lending market where race is not the largest predictor of approval for a home loan. We ultimately want to see a lending market where these disparities do not occur,” said Collins (D-Chicago). “We need an end to this cycle of disinvestment, which is at the very root of generational poverty here in Chicago and throughout the state and the country.”

The hearing highlighted findings by a recent report, a joint effort between WBEZ and the journalism nonprofit City Bureau, which highlighted a vast racial disparity in housing in the Chicago area. Among the starkest statistics: For every dollar lent to white neighborhoods in Chicago, just 12 cents make it to Black neighborhoods. The home loans lent just in Chicago’s majority-white Lincoln Park neighborhood total more, in dollars, than the combined amount of every home loan lent to every majority-Black neighborhood in the city combined.

In his testimony, IDFPR’s Acting Director of Banking, Chasse Rehwinkle, said Lincoln Park is not an outlier and that the situation arises from systemic issues that have occurred over decades.

Collins said the challenges of remedying the state of affairs lie partly in state government’s regulatory framework, but stressed also that the behavior of banks must be held to account.

“The solutions to how we achieve a fairer lending market are going to need to come from banking institutions themselves,” Collins said. “I appreciate the representatives of those institutions who have made time to participate today, but I do want to express disappointment that some have declined to do so.”

The hearing was part of an ongoing series organized by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. The question of fairness in economic access is among the four pillars guiding the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ legislative agenda to eliminate systemic racism. The pillars include:

  1. Criminal justice reform, violence reduction and police accountability
  2. Education and workforce development
  3. Economic access, equity and opportunity
  4. Health care and human services

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