Dear Chicago: Make neighborhoods accessible

Advocate says progress in many neighborhoods is too slow.

January 24, 2011

By Robin Amer

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Rene Luna, 55, became paralyzed after a car crash in 1977. Now he gets around town in a motorized wheelchair.
 
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act as well as state laws aim to provide Luna and other people with physical disabilities equal access to businesses and public places. The City of Chicago includes accessibility guidelines in its building code. However, advocates such as Luna feel the city doesn’t uniformly enforce these standards. This is especially problematic in poorer, older neighborhoods that have seen less investment or renovation. Ironically, many of these same neighborhoods have higher concentrations of people with disabilities.
 
Luna’s appeal to the new mayor: Ensure accessibility in all of Chicago’s neighborhoods, not just downtown. He took WBEZ to Pilsen, a mostly Latino neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, to explain why accessibility should be a priority for Chicago’s new mayor and newly-elected city council.
 
Dear Chicago is a project of WBEZ’s Partnership Program. Rene Luna was nominated for the series by Access Living, where he works as a policy analyst.