CHICAGO -The Westside Benefits Coalition held a press conference calling on Gateway Development Partners to negotiate in good faith a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) for their $300 million project in the Illinois Medical District. The project is projected to create roughly 1,000 permanent jobs while including retail space, a hotel, and housing.
“It is great to see this development happening but west side residents want and need to be very involved in the process,” said Joanne Terrell, a member of Action Now and 31-year resident of the west side. “A CBA would guarantee that this development on the west side will benefit all residents of the west side. The investment in this project must guarantee current residents jobs with decent livable wages and benefits, affordable housing regardless of one's record or the period of time he/she has been unemployed and/or underemployed.”
The coalition is demanding a CBA that guarantees living wage jobs for current west-side residents, for affordable housing to be included in the development, and to not discriminate against ex-offenders or the long-term unemployed. Over 35% of west-side households live below the federal poverty level while nearly 20% of residents are unemployed.
"My goal today is to be a productive tax-paying member of society again,” said Angela McClellan, a member of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. “Ex-offenders without a job and goals will soon be re-offenders! I don’t feel it’s right that these million dollar development projects are here and I might be denied due to my past mistakes. My criminal background does not define who I am, therefore it should not dictate my future.”
The West Side Benefits Coalition is comprised of Action Now, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Community Renewal Society, and community leaders. The coalition is seeking a Community Benefits Agree with Gateway Development Partners for the IMDC project located at 2020 W Ogden. The coalition has garnered the support of west side aldermen and county officials.