Chicago, Illinois, has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest the influx of funding coming through recent federal legislation toward an equitable and inclusive recovery. Ranking 199th out of 274 cities on overall inclusion before the COVID-19 pandemic, Chicago is a city where these funds could make a particularly tangible impact. Recovering inclusively entails overcoming economic and societal stress in ways that provide opportunities for all residents, but especially those who have been historically excluded, to benefit from and contribute to economic growth.
Currently totaling almost $7.58 billion, funds coming through ARPA, CRRSAA, and CARES can be used by the City of Chicago, Cook County, Chicago-area transportation authorities, and the Chicago Public School District to address long-held patterns of inequity. Many of the prescribed uses for federal funds include policy areas that can promote inclusive recovery, including K–12 education, transportation, infrastructure, and housing. Significant flexible funds are also included, allowing Chicago to pursue economic, workforce, and community development goals.
The city’s recovery plan outlines priority areas for funding allocations across two core goals (thriving and safe communities and equitable economic recovery) spanning 13 programmatic areas ranging from affordable housing and violence prevention to small business support and community climate investments. As the city and county’s governing bodies commit to recovery allocations and expenditures, equity must be centered for Chicago to recover inclusively.