CHICAGO – Speaking ahead of a joint hearing of several Illinois Senate economic committees Friday, State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) called out structural racism in banking and said urgent change is needed to undo multi-generational barriers that now see Black families in Chicago less likely to own homes than they were before the Fair Housing Act passed in 1968.

“This is what systemic racism looks like and is reminiscent of the notorious era of redlining, the racially discriminatory policy that blocked Blacks from all legitimate means of obtaining a mortgage and opened the door for their exploitation and abuse by the housing, banking and mortgage industry,” said Collins, who chairs the Senate Financial Institutions Committee.

The Senate Financial Institutions, Commerce and Economic Development, Executive, and Local Government Committees comprised the joint hearing Thursday. The subject matter focused on the vast disparity in access to banking services between white and Black Illinoisans. The joint hearing is part of an ongoing series organized by the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, with other hearings focusing on criminal justice, education and health care as part of the caucus’ efforts to build a specific legislative agenda leading into the upcoming fall session in Springfield.

Collins cited recent reporting by WBEZ that showed banks in Chicago lend just $0.12 to Black neighborhoods for every dollar they spend in white neighborhoods. For some lenders, that disparity is even more jaw-dropping: JP Morgan Chase, for instance, gave out 41 times the amount of money in home loans to white neighborhoods that it did to Black neighborhoods, according to the report.

“As the Kerner report stated more than 52 years ago, these embedded forms of racial discrimination were created by white institutions, are maintained by white institutions and are condoned by white society,” Collins said. “Now is the time for transparency, equity, accountability and transformational change.”

You can read Senator Collins full remarks below:

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CHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) spoke out in favor of a new $32 million urban farming project announced today to be located in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood.

“Neighborhoods like Auburn Gresham are so often caught in a cycle of disinvestment, with each lost opportunity making them less attractive when the next one comes along,” Collins said. “What should be clear by now to all of us is that investment is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we give communities like this an opportunity to be part of the future, we can make that future a reality.”

Made possible in part by a $2 million Rebuild Illinois grant from the state, the Green Era Renewable Energy and Urban Farming Campus will focus on producing sustainable food, renewable energy, and using responsible waste disposal practices. A currently vacant, 9-acre lot will serve as the site, with construction scheduled to be completed by spring of 2022. Training and job creation are part of the project’s goals, according to Urban Grower’s Collective, which will operate the site.

A brownfield, the vacant lot will be decontaminated as part of the project through a $1 million loan from the Illinois EPA. Collins thanked the project’s leaders.

“Thank you for sowing seeds enabling us to reap this rich harvest today in Auburn Gresham,” Collins said. “Food deserts are the genesis of what has become a public health crisis in some of our urban areas today. The relationship between access to fresh foods and health, academic performance and overall quality of life is well-known. Urban farming, with job creation, is an investment to transform struggling neighborhoods like Auburn Gresham.”

CHICAGO – The COVID-19 testing site in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood has moved to a new location at Foreman Mills, located at 79th Street and the Dan Ryan Expressway, due to the previous site’s hosts reopening for business.

State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) praised the governor’s administration for working quickly to ensure that the South Side and Auburn Gresham – one of the areas hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the first community in the state to lose a life to the disease – maintains a free, accessible testing site. Collins was vocal in her calls for a testing site in the neighborhood, which went without one until May.

“It is imperative that anybody who has reason to believe they may have been infected has access to free testing,” Collins said. “Particularly in communities where many are facing unemployment and a lack of health care benefits, this is key to our eventual victory over COVID-19.”

The new community-based testing site will make use of the nasal swab testing method – the slightly less invasive test. The site operates seven days a week, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Testing is free to all, and no symptoms are required to qualify for testing. Results should be expected within four to seven days via phone call.

The previous testing site at Studio Movie Grill has ceased operations due to the business reopening. Collins urged those who seek a test to self-isolate until they receive results.

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“We face two pandemics in Chicago. We already know how to end both.”

CHICAGO – In the wake of a mass shooting at a Gresham funeral that wounded at least 15 people, State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) expressed her support of the victims, asked those with knowledge of the crime to come forward and called for city and state government to act to address the root causes of violence.

“We face two pandemics in Chicago. Both spread and perpetuate themselves. And we already know how to end both,” Collins said. “We know the solution to the coronavirus is to bring our resources to bear to support public health and follow the science. We know that to end the pandemic of violence we need to stem the flow of guns, drugs and gangs, and address the poverty, disenfranchisement and criminalization of communities of color in Chicago.”

Collins also urged the city’s leaders and the community to come together to end the shootings. Gresham has experienced a spike of violence this year, and reports indicate last night’s shooting was a retaliation in an ongoing, deadly feud.

“Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once wrote that ‘Few are guilty, but all are responsible,’” Collins said. “Those with knowledge of these crimes must come forward and work with police. And it must be said that police need to foster a relationship of trust that starts with reform and accountability. This has to be a two-way street.”

Collins cited a number of recent actions the General Assembly has taken in an attempt to fix the root causes of violent crime in Chicago. The state legislature created the Commission on the Elimination of Poverty to explore ways of ending the cycle of poverty in Illinois. Collins was among those who supported a minimum wage increase to $15, which will proceed in stages over the coming years, as well as the legalization of cannabis for adult use with the most robust social equity provisions in the country’s history. In addition, Collins advocated for increased funding for violence prevention, youth employment and Teen Reach programming in the FY 21 Budget. Collins is in the midst of acting to address the vast disparity in banking and home lending between white and Black and brown communities.

“Gresham is an epicenter of these two pandemics, and for the same reasons. We can’t give up on our efforts to end them simply because the solutions are costly or inconvenient to those in power,” Collins said. “A person who wears a mask protects another from COVID-19. A child with a bright future and a supportive society does not pick up a gun. We know how we need to act, and we need to act now.”

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