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Living in Poverty | FIRSTHAND

Poverty seen through the eyes of Chicagoans with firsthand experience


Chicago’s Ambitious Anti-Poverty Plan

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has an ambitious plan – a plan to end poverty in the city within a generation.

Lightfoot launched her plan with the Solutions Toward Ending Poverty (STEP) Summit, geared toward identifying the specific challenges of poverty and strategies needed to address them. Held in February 2020, just weeks before the global pandemic pushed the city to enact its first stay-at-home order, the summit became the first and last large physical meeting of community members, researchers, storytellers, and other local leaders. How to enact the “community-centered plan” had to be adjusted.

“The original plan was to run a very long ... community engagement process that would be kind of face-to-face across the city, and just given the public health challenges that that strategy posed, we tabled that,” said Dan Lurie, the mayor’s chief of policy. “But instead, we’ve really been pushing on a number of policy priorities that are fundamentally about the kind of systems-busting that the mayor has prioritized.”

Lightfoot and her team identified areas such as reducing the city’s fines and fees, raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2021 (an ordinance passed in the City Council in November 2020), and job creation as immediate solutions for addressing poverty. Specific plans for many of these policy changes have not yet been released, though the city has started to implement reforms such as vehicle ticket payment plans, utility bill relief, and ending Chicago Public Library late fees.... Read more


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Lead support for FIRSTHAND: Living in Poverty is provided by The Grainger Foundation and Becky and Lester Knight, The Knight Family Foundation.

Major support is also provided by Jim and Kay Mabie; Rande and Cary McMillan; Butler Family Foundation; Denny and Sandy Cummings; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois; The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation; Lew Collens; Edwardson Family Foundation; Marc and Jeanne Malnati Family Foundation; Kristin Carlson Vogen and Shawn Vogen; and the Duncan Family (As of May 31, 2021).