001collinsCollins calls for more action to end maternal mortality crisis among women of color

State Senator Jacqueline Collins again called for action to end the culture of prejudice, discrimination and dismissal in the medical community that has contributed to the death of women like New York mother Sha-Asia Washington, a Black woman who died in childbirth last week at age 26.

“The events of this year prove that we are in a fight for the life of every mother like Sha-Asia Washington on every front,” Collins said. “We are fighting for Black women like Patricia Frieson of Chicago, who was the first in Illinois to die of COVID-19. We are saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ in the streets, but we need it to mean something in the hospital and the doctor’s office.”

Collins, who sponsored the creation of the ongoing Task Force for Infant and Maternal Mortality Among African Americans through House Bills 1, 2, 3 and 5 in 2019, renewed calls for further action. That task force met last week as part of its ongoing efforts to draft a report, due by year’s end, laying out legislative recommendations.

A separate measure last year focused on related issues, Senate Bill 1909, would have strengthened medical coverage and postpartum care for mothers. That plan easily passed the Illinois Senate, but stalled in the House and was eventually changed to unrelated legislation.

Meanwhile, women of color and their children are several times more likely to die in childbirth than white women, even when adjusting for all other socioeconomic factors. Nationwide, Black mothers die from pregnancy-related causes at a rate two to three times higher than white mothers, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In the city of New York, mothers like Sha-Asia Washington are 12 times likelier to die in childbirth.

“The reasons I pushed for the creation of groups like the maternal mortality task force and the Illinois Council on Women and Girls are unfortunately clearer now in 2020 than ever,” Collins said. “We must refuse to allow Black mothers and babies to become a statistic.”

001collinsMiddle school students will be required to study civics as part of their course work under a new law passed by State Senator Jacqueline Collins that takes effect today.

“Current events teach us the importance and impact of civic engagement at every age,”   Collins said. “In the malicious action and shameful inaction of our president, we are given daily reminders that to be a society ruled by laws, not men, we must be vigilant and active. That starts with education about our system of government and our own responsibility to it.”

Under the new law, Illinois schools will be required to include civics courses in their curricula for 6th, 7th and 8th graders.

The measure was House Bill 2265, which passed the General Assembly last May and was signed into law the following August.

CHICAGO – Following Gov. JB Pritzker’s announcement today that his administration will launch a $636 million Business Interruption Grants program, State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) urged local business owners to apply.

“I applaud the governor’s action today, and am gratified to see that one large part of it will be aimed at businesses in disproportionately impacted areas with recent significant property damage,” Collins said. “This shows an understanding of what business owners in these areas are going through and what help they need to stay afloat in light of the once-in-a-lifetime hardship they now face.”

The Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity will launch a first round of $60 million BIG grant funding for small businesses harmed by the pandemic, many of whom have also seen damage as a result of recent civil unrest. The funds are intended to help small businesses stay viable through the pandemic, help offset the costs of months of being shut down or restricted in their operations, and ensure they have the resources to reopen safely in the near future.

Among other specific programs, DCEO plans to disburse $20 million across 1,000 grants of $20,000 each to businesses in disproportionately impacted area with recent significant property damage. Those who qualify for these grants include:

  • Businesses with under $2 million in revenue in 2019, or pro-rated amount if in business for less than a year. Such business must have in operation for at least three months prior to March 2020.
  • Applicants who can attest to experiencing costs or losses of at least $20,000 since the Stay at Home order was put in place on March 21, 2020 due to closure or reduced operations as a result of the COVID pandemic.
  • Businesses within a subset of DIAs that have experienced recent property damage, exacerbating the economic impacts of COVID.

DCEO and its grant administration partners are scheduled to post applications this week for review and questions, with applications being accepted June 24 through July 1. Applicants who are selected for the grants should hear from grant administration partners by early July, and grants are scheduled to be disbursed by the end of July.

Following a report by WBEZ showing a vast disparity in mortgage lending between predominantly white and predominantly black neighborhoods in Chicago, State Senator Jacqueline Collins called for action to induce more equitable lending practices.

“WBEZ’s report shows an overhead view of what many families in Chicago have seen from the ground: That banks are denying many mortgage loans to black Chicagoans who are prospective homeowners,” said Collins, D-Chicago. “As they reported, these disparities cannot be explained away by factors as simple as location or a home’s size. Even considering such differences, the report shows this inequality.”

WBEZ’s in-depth report details how prospective homeowners in predominantly black communities have been so shut out of mortgage lending that one single predominantly white neighborhood in Chicago has received more home loans than every black community combined. On the whole, WBEZ’s analysis shows that for every $1 banks loaned in Chicago’s white neighborhoods, they have loaned 12 cents in the city’s black neighborhoods and 13 cents in Latino areas.

“This is redlining through different means, and redlining is the outgrowth of racist policies that continue to undermine communities of color, and in particular the black community,” Collins said. “I will explore legislative means for addressing this disparity. There is no justice until we erase the last red line.”

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