WBEZ | poverty http://www.wbez.org/tags/poverty Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en World Cup stirs mixed feelings for Chicago’s Brazilian community http://www.wbez.org/news/world-cup-stirs-mixed-feelings-chicago%E2%80%99s-brazilian-community-110305 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/BRAZILIANS_140609.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, a small crowd gathers under a white street festival tent to watch Chicago Samba. The eight piece group features musicians and two women dancing in large fruit covered Carmen Miranda inspired headdresses.</p><p>Mo Marchini is the group&rsquo;s founder. He says he&rsquo;d love to be in his hometown of Sao Paulo to watch the World Cup. But says he&rsquo;ll settle playing Brazilian music in Chicago. Marchini started the samba group 20 years ago because he wanted to showcase Brazilian culture.</p><p>&ldquo;We came from 30 years of a military (dictatorship) over there. We had a coup d&#39;etat in 1964 and it devastated the country culturally,&rdquo; says Marchini.</p><p>&ldquo;We were prohibited to think, pretty much. To vote. To do anything. We started voting 20 years ago. The country&rsquo;s really back. It has to catch up with the whole world.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s why Marchini thinks Brazil hosting the month-long soccer tournament is going to be an amazing thing for his country. He says it&rsquo;ll show to the rest of the world that they&rsquo;ve arrived. &nbsp;</p><p>Sergio Barreto agrees. He &nbsp;runs Chicagoano, a bilingual blog and website for Chicago&rsquo;s Brazilian community. He started the website because he wanted to get past the stereotypical images people may have.</p><p>&ldquo;Every Brazilian event that you go, even if it&rsquo;s a professional event, will end the mulatas dancing,&rdquo; says Barreto. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re scantily clad and it perpetuates this image that we&rsquo;re shallow people.&rdquo;</p><p>Barreto thinks the mixed race women who dance the samba can&rsquo;t be the only image people have of Brazilians. Like Mo, he says there&rsquo;s been unrest accompanying the progress Brazilians have enjoyed.</p><p>Over the last year, police departments, teachers, homeless workers and indigenous tribes, among others, have rallied against the government for spending billions on the games. Barreto is upset the daily protests may skew opinion on his country.</p><p>&ldquo;If the whole world is watching and you&rsquo;re going to basically tell the world &lsquo;you don&rsquo;t want to come here. You don&rsquo;t want to invest here. This place is a mess. Take it from us, we live here.&rsquo; I mean how is that going to benefit the country in the long run?&rdquo;</p><p>This is the first time Brazil has hosted the World Cup since 1950. With five championships, Brazil has the most World Cup wins in the history of the games. As a country that&rsquo;s favored to win the tournament, Barreto&rsquo;s eyes well up as he explains what soccer means to him.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s an emotional topic for all of us. Not to sound like a cliche but soccer is in the blood,&rdquo; says Barreto. &ldquo;Every four years when the World Cup arrives and you&rsquo;re watching the games, it stirs you up inside.&rdquo;</p><p>College student Carolina Mendes says despite some mixed feelings, she&rsquo;ll watch the games. She&rsquo;s eating at the Brazilian Bowl restaurant in Lakeview. There, you&rsquo;ll find traditional items like feijoada, coxinha and maracuja juice. Brazilian groceries are on shelves stacked floor to ceiling. The game&rsquo;s armadillo mascot, a little Fuleco doll, sits on a cash register. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The World Cup is for all the world. Not for Brazilian people,&rdquo; says Mendes. &ldquo;They cannot afford these tickets. People think it&rsquo;s a good thing for Brazil. It&rsquo;s not. We need to spend money on other things.&rdquo;</p><p>How Brazil will do in the World Cup is a huge test for the country as it prepares to host another international event: the Olympic games in 2016.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ Host/Producer Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter </em><em><a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews">@yolandanews</a><u>&nbsp;</u></em><em>&amp; <a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/106564114685277342468/posts/p/pub">Google+</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 09 Jun 2014 10:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/world-cup-stirs-mixed-feelings-chicago%E2%80%99s-brazilian-community-110305 Counting Chicago's homeless population http://www.wbez.org/news/counting-chicagos-homeless-population-109565 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Homeless Count.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-5f6d8a96-c168-7a2a-13eb-449f7ac171c3">On one of the coldest nights of the year, the City of Chicago set out to count its homeless population.</p><p>It took hundreds of people to carry out <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fss/provdrs/emerg/alerts/2013/dec/chicago-s-2014-point-in-time-homeless-count.html">Wednesday&rsquo;s survey.</a> Shelters did their own headcount, police covered abandoned buildings, the Chicago Housing Authority checked its closed properties and volunteers fanned out across the city, riding public transportation, and checking the streets.</p><p>The volunteers get a list of survey questions. If people don&#39;t want to talk, the volunteers are instructed to guess their approximate age and race, and mark them on a tally sheet.</p><p>The group I am with went to Lower Wacker Drive. They found a couple huddled together, underneath blankets at least a foot deep. The woman in the couple turned her back and burrowed deeper into her blankets while the man sat up.</p><p>A volunteer introduced herself and started the survey.</p><p>&ldquo;Is this your first time being homeless?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;In and out,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;Working, and so forth. And then back homeless again.&rdquo;</p><p>The questions are mostly yes or no. But some people told us extra details, like what sort of jobs they pick up during the day and what religious beliefs they hold.</p><p>&ldquo;Any kids?&rdquo; the volunteer asked.</p><p>One man said his kids are in college. &ldquo;They are out of town,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;But they love me, you know.&rdquo;</p><p>The volunteer asked the couple if they wanted to go to a shelter.</p><p>&ldquo;This is my lady right here,&rdquo; the man said, &ldquo;we&rsquo;ve been together 12 years. And we do it together.&rdquo; He said he worries they would be separated by gender in a shelter.</p><p>We left Lower Wacker and drove slowly along the streets, still looking. We found a shack constructed next to the highway, and inside we heard people fighting. The volunteers called out the questions, but the people inside screamed at us to go away.</p><p>The count is not perfect, as people can be missed. But coordinators say it is a useful tool. Last year,<a href="http://www.thechicagoalliance.org/documents/Plan%202.0%20Progress%20Report%208-13.pdf"> this count found 6,276 people who were homeless</a>. That is down from the previous survey in 2011. The city said because of economic conditions the expect an <a href="http://www.usmayors.org/pressreleases/uploads/2013/1210-report-HH.pdf">overall rise in people without stable housing</a>. But chronic homelessness-- people who stay out in the streets, sometimes for years-- those numbers are down.</p><p>Coordinators said the cold can be good for the survey, because people are more likely to go to a shelter, where they are easier to count. The temperature hovered around zero and earlier in the night, there was a report of a man found frozen to death in Logan Square. Back in the car, some volunteers wondered why people aren&rsquo;t going to shelters.</p><p>&ldquo;I know that there is Catholic Charities, there&rsquo;s other relief services, there&rsquo;s Heartland - there are other people,&rdquo; one volunteer said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s hard for me to understand why they&rsquo;re doing what they&rsquo;re doing.&rdquo;</p><p>An advocate explained that people consider their space on the street a home. One volunteer mentioned a couple she met earlier: &ldquo;She had a dustpan and a broom. And she was sweeping the debris to keep the rats away, keep the area clean. And I remember him saying, &lsquo;yeah, she does this because this one of the few places that we&rsquo;re able to stay. And we don&rsquo;t want to create a situation where they would make us leave.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Around 2 am we headed back. The job was done. But after hours of scanning the streets, it is hard to stop. Our eyes became use to staring down the alley, looking beneath underpasses-- trying to make sure we see who is there.</p><p>Taking a moment to notice, to take count.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ web producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Thu, 23 Jan 2014 17:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/counting-chicagos-homeless-population-109565 Illinois residents lose 220 million dollars in SNAP benefits http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/illinois-residents-lose-220-million-dollars-snap-benefits-109035 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Food Stamps.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-2f427842-09fa-adb3-60c4-5211dc0f5c8d">In Illinois, about 16 percent of the population uses food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Starting this Friday, all <a href="http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&amp;id=3899">2,031,000 of them</a> will have less money to spend on groceries. A family of three, for example, will lose $29 a month in benefits. Many social service providers expect more families will rely on already strained food banks.</p><p dir="ltr">The change could also have a broader economic impact on the state, $220 million fewer dollars will flow into Illinois through the program.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There is a real risk that we may lose food retailers, particularly in areas of the state where there is a high usage of SNAP. So we are talking about making the food desert problem worse,&rdquo; said <a href="http://povertylaw.org/about/staffbios/dan-lesser">Dan Lesser, Director of Economic Justice in the Chicago offices of the Shriver National Center on Poverty Law</a>.</p><p>SNAP benefits were temporarily increased in 2009 as part of the <a href="http://www.fns.usda.gov/arra">Recovery Act.</a> Because the money is immediately spent on food, some experts believe increasing SNAP is quick way to stimulate the economy. But the boost expires November 1st.</p><p>Those cuts may not be the last. Some conservative lawmakers say too many people are in the program and it&rsquo;s too expensive. The U.S. House has proposed cutting SNAP by about $4 billion a year for 10 years, for a total of $40 billion dollars. The cuts come by drastically restricting eligibility for the program. A Senate bill proposes much more modest cuts. Negotiations begin this week.</p></p> Wed, 30 Oct 2013 10:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/illinois-residents-lose-220-million-dollars-snap-benefits-109035 Home care union celebrates anniversary http://www.wbez.org/news/home-care-union-celebrates-anniversary-108625 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Home care Union.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Thirty years ago this month, a small group of Chicago workers formed a union that helped ignite a labor movement across the country. The workers were largely African-American women who provided care for seniors and people with disabilities.</p><p>Because home care workers were exempt from some federal labor laws, their wages were as low as a dollar an hour. In 1983, they decided to unionize.&nbsp; It was one of the first unions of it&rsquo;s kind in the nation.<br />&nbsp;<br />Keith Kelleher is President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana. He remembers marching at the capital and hearing testimonies.</p><p>&ldquo;Our president at the time said, &lsquo;We are being paid a dollar an hour. We are grown women who have been working all of our lives.&rsquo; Later in that session they outlawed it and increased everyone from a dollar an hour to [the minimum wage] of $3.35,&rdquo; Kelleher said.<br /><br />The methods used in Chicago spread across the nation, according to Kelleher, but he says there is still a long way to go. In many states home care workers are still not included in the minimum wage. And in Illinois, some employers hire home care workers as private contractors to get around the minimum wage and overtime standards.</p><p>Saturday, September 6th, union leaders and home care workers will convene in Chicago to mark the union&rsquo;s anniversary.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/shannon_h" target="_blank">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Fri, 06 Sep 2013 10:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/home-care-union-celebrates-anniversary-108625 Low-wage workers walk out across Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/low-wage-workers-walk-out-across-chicago-108255 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 9.16.14 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>Workers at dozens of national chains went on strike in Chicago&rsquo;s Loop today. It&rsquo;s the second day of demonstrations.</p><p>At 7 a.m. Thursday, two Subway employees walked out of their jobs to join cheering demonstrators. Additional staff say they won&rsquo;t show up for their shifts.</p><p>Amani Johnson says he&rsquo;s worked at Subway for six years and only makes $8.25.</p><p>&ldquo;There are things in life I want to do, like go back to school, which I can&rsquo;t afford at this time. I have two kids I have to feed and clothe. To stay at that same [wage], I deserve more,&rdquo; said Johnson.</p><p>Demonstrators will continue protesting at stores across Chicago&rsquo;s Loop, including Wendy&rsquo;s, Sally&rsquo;s Beauty Supply, McDonald&#39;s, Macy&rsquo;s, Nike, Victoria&rsquo;s Secret and more.</p><p>Striking workers say they want their wages raised to $15 an hour. In an emailed statement, the National Restaurant Association said a significant increase in the minimum wage would hurt the private sector&rsquo;s ability to create jobs. <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/02/14/why-economists-are-so-puzzled-by-the-minimum-wage/">Economist are divided</a> over the issue of whether increased wages would actually impact employment, while strikers say it&rsquo;s a matter of a company&#39;s priorities.</p><p>Pay was not the only concern. Workers at the Halsted Whole Foods said they earned more than many fellow strikers, but called for an end to a policy they say punishes them for missing a day of work even if they are sick or attending a family funeral. They say the policy gives workers points for every absence, with six points resulting in dismissal. Management at the Whole Foods store declined to comment.</p><p>&ldquo;The reality is coming out of [college] right at the beginning of the economic crisis, I couldn&rsquo;t find a better job. A lot of us are stuck in this position,&rdquo; said Matthew Camp, 32, a member of the Workers Organizing Committee. &ldquo;The service industry is the fastest growing industry in the country right now.&rdquo;</p><p>The numbers support Camp&rsquo;s assessment, <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nelp.org%2Findex.php%2Fcontent%2Fcontent_about_us%2Ftracking_the_recovery_after_the_great_recession&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEUhRN5Lbcscg1kPBvX6YUcwM0ClQ">more than half of the jobs created during the economic recovery are low-wage</a>.</p><p>Some strikers said conditions have improved since the<a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fnews%2Fdowntown-walkout-higher-minimum-wage-shakes-chicago-businesses-106827&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHza_gl8klb8xdh_vihUlzKNqNX0Q"> first low-wage walkout earlier this year</a>. Many workers said the biggest benefit of the demonstrations has been that they now view their fellow workers as family.</p><p>Organisers say the demonstrations will culminate at 5pm at a McDonalds on Navy Pier.</p><p><br />Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">shannon_h</a></p></p> Thu, 01 Aug 2013 08:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/low-wage-workers-walk-out-across-chicago-108255 Demonstrators demand Goodwill stop paying sub-minimum wages http://www.wbez.org/news/demonstrators-demand-goodwill-stop-paying-sub-minimum-wages-108210 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/DAWWN wages 1.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Over a hundred organizations in Illinois hold a license that allows them to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/labor-laws-allow-workers-disabilities-earn-less-minimum-wage-107389">legally pay workers with disabilities less than minimum wage</a>. <a href="http://www.accessliving.org/index.php?tray=content&amp;tid=top683&amp;cid=2al73">Disabled Americans Want Work Now (DAWWN)</a> says it&rsquo;s unfair places like Goodwill can pay CEO&rsquo;s six-figure salaries, while disabled workers earn less than a dollar an hour.</p><p>DAWWN activists marched in front of a Chicago Goodwill store and office building and then entered the building to deliver a letter on Friday. Activists were met by Pat Boelter, Chief Marketing Officer Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin.</p><p>Boelter said all their Chicago locations pay above minimum wage, but she defends other Goodwills that don&rsquo;t. &ldquo;These are individuals who are not employable in the community. This is an opportunity for an individual with severe disabilities to feel like they belong,&rdquo; said Boelter.</p><p>DAWWN activist Susan Aarup said that pay is a matter of dignity. &nbsp;&ldquo;When they pay you less than a dollar an hour, they are telling you that you are worthless. We want honest pay for honest work.&rdquo;</p><p>Activist Rene Luna said disabled workers can do equal work when given the right accommodations and opportunities. He praised the <a href="http://www.progressillinois.com/news/content/2013/07/17/quinn-signs-law-boost-job-opportunities-people-disabilities">Employment First Act</a>, a bill which was signed into law earlier this month with the goal of boosting employment for workers with disabilities. &ldquo;In some ways there is a kind of revolution going on for us,&rdquo; said Luna.</p><p>DAWWN says it will continue to protest until wages change.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h&nbsp;</a></em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 29 Jul 2013 10:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/demonstrators-demand-goodwill-stop-paying-sub-minimum-wages-108210 Morning Shift: Good food and good samaritans http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-09/morning-shift-good-food-and-good-samaritans-107991 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Health Food-Flickr- @10.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WBEZ political reporter Tony Arnold previews lawmakers&#39; trek back to Springfield when they&#39;ll revisit pension reform and conceal and carry. And, ChicagoTribune reporter Monica Eng discusses how to educate people on eating well. Plus, when have you acted as a Good Samaritan?</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-good-food-and-good-samaritans.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-good-food-and-good-samaritans" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Good food and good samaritans" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Tue, 09 Jul 2013 08:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-09/morning-shift-good-food-and-good-samaritans-107991 CEOs at largest restaurants earn 733 times the minimum wage http://www.wbez.org/news/ceos-largest-restaurants-earn-733-times-minimum-wage-107989 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Resturaunt Workers_sh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A&nbsp;<a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/ceo-pay-2012-extraordinarily-high/" target="_blank">national study</a>&nbsp;from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute shows <a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/restaurant-ceos-vs-minimum-wage/" target="_blank">CEOs at the largest restaurants earned 788 times more than minimum wage workers</a>, like bussers and servers. The report says, &ldquo;These corporate CEOs earn more on the first morning of the year than a minimum wage worker will earn over the course of a full year.&rdquo;</p><p>Astar Herndon works for<a href="http://rocunited.org/chicago/" target="_blank"> Restaurant Opportunities Center United in Chicago</a>, a group that organizes restaurant workers.</p><p>&ldquo;If you are able to pay CEO&rsquo;s this high a wage, increasing the tipped minimum wage could be sustained. We&rsquo;ve always know that, but this data proves it,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The Illinois Restaurant Association opposes raising the minimum wage. The organization said the industry is still reeling from the economic crisis and expects to be hit by hard by the Affordable Care Act as it takes effect. &nbsp;It says raising the minimum wage would force some restaurants to lay off workers.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h" target="_blank">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Tue, 09 Jul 2013 07:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ceos-largest-restaurants-earn-733-times-minimum-wage-107989 Divvy blues: Bike-share program leaves some behind http://www.wbez.org/news/divvy-blues-bike-share-program-leaves-some-behind-107893 <p><p>Chicago on Friday morning launched a new component of its storied transit system. <a href="http://divvybikes.com/" target="_blank">Divvy</a>, the city&rsquo;s first bike-share program, kicked off with 65 solar-powered docking stations. The plan is to add hundreds more by next spring. With a fleet of 700 powder-blue bikes, the system will be one of the largest bike-sharing operations in the world.</p><p>But most of the stations will stand within a couple miles of the lakefront, clustered mainly in the Loop and densely populated neighborhoods along transit lines. This in a city that has a checkered history of providing low-income residents equal access to public infrastructure. It begs the question: Who gets to share the benefits of Chicago&rsquo;s new bike share?</p><h2 class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bikes_1.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Divvy’s first fleet of bikes, set up at the station at Daley Plaza. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" /><strong>Bike share basics</strong></h2><p>The Divvy bikes themselves are heavy-duty commuter bikes with fenders, chain guards, built-in-lights and a small front basket, big enough for a purse or briefcase &mdash; but not a load of groceries. The bikes are painted the same sky blue as the stripes on the Chicago flag.</p><p>Users will be able to pick up a bike at any of 400 docking stations the city plans to install by next spring. After a ride, users will be able to return the bike to any other station.</p><p>Divvy&rsquo;s startup financing include $22 million in federal funds and $5.5 million in local funds.</p><p>The day-to-day operations will be up to Portland-based <a href="http://www.altabicycleshare.com/" target="_blank">Alta Bicycle Share</a>, which also runs bike-share programs in Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein once consulted for Alta and received criticism when Chicago chose the company for the city&rsquo;s program. Klein said he recused himself from the selection process.</p><h2><strong>Who is Divvy for?</strong></h2><p>Divvy&rsquo;s Web site describes the program&rsquo;s participants as &ldquo;everyone 16 years and older with a credit or debit card.&rdquo;</p><p>But that doesn&rsquo;t take into account the proximity of stations or some residents&rsquo; limited access to bank cards (more on that below). Divvy is designed for short trips under 30 minutes. After that, <a href="http://divvybikes.com/pricing" target="_blank">late fees kick in</a>.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bikes_2.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="Divvy’s first station appears at the corner of Dearborn and Washington streets in the Loop. Stations will be clustered in high density areas, leaving parts of the city unserved. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" />Planners say that the system was primarily designed to address what they call the &ldquo;last two miles&rdquo; problem of commuting. Namely, how to get people to work or home after they&rsquo;ve stepped off the train or bus. Divvy is not optimized for recreational riding or long treks across town.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">The stations are concentrated in high-density parts of town &mdash; in and near the Loop and along some major transit lines. The further from the city&rsquo;s center, the fewer stations there are.</div><p>This program stems partly from the city&rsquo;s desire to spur economic development. Mayor Rahm Emanuel often touts the connection between building better bike infrastructure and attracting high tech companies to Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s part of my effort to recruit entrepreneurs and start-up businesses because a lot of those employees like to bike to work,&rdquo; he <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/16810704-418/mayor-defends-protected-bike-lanes-along-dearborn.html" target="_blank">told the <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> </a>last December. &ldquo;It is not an accident that, where we put our first protected bike lane is also where we have the most concentration of digital companies and digital employees. Every time you speak to entrepreneurs and people in the start-up economy and high-tech industry, one of the key things they talk about in recruiting workers is, can they have more bike lanes.&rdquo;</p><h2 class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BIKE_1_Bell.JPG" style="float: right; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="Cynthia Bell of the Active Transportation Alliance says the city could do a lot for West Side cycling apart from bike sharing. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /><strong>Few stations on West Side, far South Side</strong></h2><p>But this strategy, putting the first stations where the demand is already highest, means that from the outset, some of Chicago&rsquo;s poorest neighborhoods have been left behind.</p><p>There are no stations south of 63rd Street or west of Central Park Avenue. Altogether, black West Side neighborhoods like North Lawndale, East and West Garfield Park, Austin, and West Humboldt Park will have just two of the 400 planned bike-sharing stations.</p><p>The Chicago Department of Transportation said that one-third of its planned bike-sharing stations will be in census tracts below the city&rsquo;s median income. That proportion is higher than comparable systems in either Boston or Washington, D.C.</p><p>The city set up <a href="http://share.chicagobikes.org/" target="_blank">a Web portal for suggestions</a> about where to put the stations. The city received about 1,000 suggestions and another 10,000 &ldquo;likes&rdquo; on those suggestions. But suggested station locations for the West Side were few and far in between.</p><p>The city also held five community-input meetings last fall. Three were downtown, one was at a library in Roscoe Village, and just one was in a neighborhood with a high minority population. That was in Bronzeville, which is getting a handful of stations.</p><p>&ldquo;The location of the public meetings is in large part driven by our initial service area,&rdquo; says Scott Kubly, Chicago&rsquo;s deputy transportation commissioner. Kubly says CDOT has applied for additional grants that would be used to build stations beyond the 400 already planned. If and when that money comes through, Kubly said Divvy would go through a another public planning process to site those new stations.</p><p>But some West Side residents aren&rsquo;t content to wait.</p><p>Tiffany Childress Price lives in North Lawndale and teaches high school there. She bikes to work, as does her husband, who takes Ogden everyday to get to his job as a barber in River North.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s easy for the city to say, &lsquo;A community like North Lawndale is not interested in biking.&rsquo; It doesn&rsquo;t surprise me,&rdquo; Childress Prices said. &ldquo;Neighborhoods like this are often overlooked and, when asked why, it&rsquo;s that we&rsquo;re just not interested.&rdquo;</p><p>But Childress Price says people like her and her husband prove otherwise. The problem isn&rsquo;t a lack of interest but, rather, a lack of education and infrastructure, she said.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to take city attention, maybe city investment &mdash; time and resources into education,&rdquo; she said.</p><h2 class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BIKE_2_Hawkins%20%281%29.JPG" style="float: left; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="As Chicago’s West Side awaits more Divvy stations, resident Eboni Hawkins says the city ought to encourage bike-related businesses, from repair shops to bike-driven food carts. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></h2><h2><strong>More Black and Latino cyclists on the road</strong></h2><p>As it turns out, though, the number of black and Latino cyclists has increased dramatically in recent years. In May, <a href="http://www.sierraclub.org/" target="_blank">the Sierra Club</a> and the <a href="http://www.bikeleague.org/" target="_blank">League of American Bicyclists</a> released <a href="http://www.bikeleague.org/content/report-new-majority-pedaling-toward-equity" target="_blank">a study</a> that showed rates of minority ridership up all over the country.</p><p>Planners often measure cycling by the number of trips made by bike. While non-white riders still account for only 23 percent of trips made by bike, according to the Sierra Club study, between 2001 and 2009, the number of trips African Americans made by bike increased by 100 percent. Those made by Latinos increased by 50 percent.</p><p>In addition, 60 percent of people of color surveyed said &ldquo;more bike facilities&rdquo; would encourage them to ride, and there&rsquo;s a lot at stake. According to the study, crash fatality rates are 30 percent higher for African Americans and 23 percent higher for Hispanics than they are for white riders.</p><p>&ldquo;For too long, many of these diverse populations have been overlooked by traditional organizations and transportation planners,&rdquo; the study authors write. &ldquo;In too many instances, people of color have been largely left out of transportation decision making processes that have dramatically impacted their neighborhoods.&rdquo;</p><p>CDOT, meanwhile, has asked the city to be patient when it comes to expanding Divvy into more minority neighborhoods.</p><p>Gabe Klein, Chicago&rsquo;s transportation commissioner, acknowledged the dearth of stations on Chicago&rsquo;s black West Side and far South Side, but emphasized the need to concentrate stations in areas with more commerce and residents.</p><p>&ldquo;People ask you a lot, &lsquo;How do you make sure you have access for everybody?&rsquo; It&rsquo;s always a challenge, because they are nodal systems,&rdquo; Klein said. &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t really put a station out by Midway Airport and not have [another station] two blocks away or doesn&rsquo;t work as a network.&rdquo;</p><p>Klein compared the nascent bike-share program to the early years of the &ldquo;L&rdquo; system before it radiated miles out from the city center.</p><p>&ldquo;Imagine when CTA started 100 years ago,&rdquo; Klein said, describing a system with few stations but plans for growth. &ldquo;Now look at the CTA. It&rsquo;s ubiquitous, it&rsquo;s everywhere.&rdquo;</p><p>Whether the CTA is truly &ldquo;everywhere&rdquo; is a matter of debate, but for now CDOT is holding off on the placement of 20 stations until after next spring. Officials want to assess unanticipated demand, and make some data-driven decisions about where to expand.</p><p>&ldquo;It could very well be there,&rdquo; Klein said, pointing to the West Side on a city map. &ldquo;And 20 stations is a lot of stations.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><h2><strong>Access to biking harder for the poor and unbanked</strong></h2><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bikes3.jpg" style="height: 451px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="A prospective Divvy member tries out one of the new bikes. Some black Chicagoans want more more stations on the South and West sides. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" />Even if the city expanded Divvy&rsquo;s bike stations and led a huge public-education campaign, there are still other potential barriers to entry.</div><p>First, there&rsquo;s the cost of membership.</p><p>CDOT officials claim the program&rsquo;s membership cost as a success. &ldquo;This will be the lowest cost form of transit available &mdash; probably less expensive than walking,&rdquo; Klein said. &ldquo;If you walked everywhere you&rsquo;d probably have to buy a couple pairs of shoes per year.&rdquo;</p><p>And while $75 a year is far cheaper than the cost of an annual CTA pass, the up-front cost could be prohibitive for some low-income users. The bike-share system in Washington, D.C., offers an $84 annual membership that can be paid for in monthly installments of $7.</p><p><a href="http://www.thehubway.com/" target="_blank">Boston&rsquo;s Hubway bikeshare</a>, meanwhile, offers steeply discounted $5 annual memberships to anyone on public assistance living within 400 percent of the poverty line. They&rsquo;ve funded this through the <a href="http://www.bphc.org/Pages/Home.aspx" target="_blank">Boston Public Health Commission</a>. So far, the Hubway has sold 650 such discounted memberships in a system of 14,000 members.</p><p>Boston&rsquo;s bike share grew out of multiple initiatives from the mayor&rsquo;s office &mdash; one focused on health and obesity, another focused on the environment and sustainability and another on economic development.</p><p>&ldquo;In many ways, biking is really at the nexus of all three of those,&rdquo; said Nicole Freedman, director of bicycle programs for Boston. She said that subsidized memberships were &ldquo;a very targeted effort to reach residents that tend to have more health and obesity issues.&rdquo;</p><p>While CDOT officials said they were excited about the public-health benefits of cycling, Chicago won&rsquo;t be offering either discounted memberships or the option of a monthly payment program to low-income residents here.&nbsp;</p><p>Equally complicated is the issue of liability.</p><p>With a few exceptions, in Chicago, you will need a credit or debit card to join Divvy or to rent a bike for the day. The system won&rsquo;t accept cash. This is about protecting the bikes, CDOT says. If you lose or steal one, Divvy will charge you $1,200 to replace it.</p><p>If you don&rsquo;t have a bank account or credit card, if you&rsquo;re living paycheck-to-paycheck or stuffing your savings under your mattress, you&rsquo;re what experts call &ldquo;unbanked.&rdquo; And if you&rsquo;re unbanked, you can&rsquo;t be charged for a replacement bike as easily.</p><p>Chris Holben, program manager of <a href="http://www.capitalbikeshare.com/" target="_blank">Capital Bikeshare</a> in Washington, D.C., said his program had faced that issue. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ll be tabling at an event,&rdquo; Holben said, &ldquo;and people will say to us, &lsquo;I don&rsquo;t have a credit card but I really want to join.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p><p>Sometimes, the hurdles to bike sharing go far beyond banking. &ldquo;Perhaps these people don&rsquo;t have access to the Internet or, if they do, they have to go to the library. Or the banks, there are a number of locations, but maybe not where they live,&rdquo; Holben said. &ldquo;If they&rsquo;re unbanked already they&rsquo;re already struggling to have access to some of the things that would make it easier.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Divvy%20map%202.jpg" style="float: left; height: 338px; width: 300px;" title="A map of Divvy’s proposed stations. The initial crop of stations won’t extend past 63rd Street on the South Side, or past Central Park Avenue on the West Side. (Courtesy of Divvy)" />So what are the unbanked to do?&nbsp;</p><p>Divvy and CDOT are planning a unique approach, one that takes banking out of the equation. They plan to partner with community groups including churches and job-training programs.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The community-based organizations [will set] up the rules that work for their members, in terms of how many hours or time they&rsquo;ll allow members, or how they want to handle the rules around usage,&rdquo; Kubly said.</p><p>Then, the $1,200 liability will be shared between the community organization, the city and Divvy &mdash; not the user.</p><p>&ldquo;And, hopefully, when you get all those things pulled together,&rdquo; Kubly said, &ldquo;it actually takes the banking question out of it for those folks, and lets anybody have access.&rdquo;</p><p>But the city isn&rsquo;t specifying a date when it will launch the community partnership program.</p><h2><strong>Beyond bike sharing: Thinking in terms of infrastructure</strong></h2><p>Cynthia Bell, a lifelong West Sider who works for the Active Transportation Alliance, says the city could do more to encourage low-income biking, with or without Divvy.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of our people now are going to Walmart or Target, buying those bikes, which are low quality,&rdquo; Bell said. &ldquo;They break down within five months and, before you know it, people haven&rsquo;t been on their bike all summer just because of a flat. A flat kept them from riding their bike the whole summer.&rdquo;<br /><br />Bell says the city could do more to help set up bike-repair shops and safe places to park.</p><p>Tiffany Childress Price, a North Lawndale teacher and avid biker, says the reasons for bringing bike-sharing to low-income neighborhoods go beyond economic development and convenience.</p><p>&ldquo;We have the highest childhood obesity rates in the city so it seems like we&rsquo;d want to promote biking&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Chicago has made progress in laying down more bike lanes on the West Side. When it comes to the bike-share system, though, officials say most low-income neighborhoods will have to wait.</p><p><em>Robin Amer is a reporter/producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/rsamer" target="_blank">@rsamer</a>.</em></p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 28 Jun 2013 07:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/divvy-blues-bike-share-program-leaves-some-behind-107893 Underpaid, exploited, and living in our homes http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/underpaid-exploited-and-living-our-homes-107624 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Domestic Worker_sh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Front and Center series, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/exceptions-rule">Exceptions to the Rule</a> explores jobs that are excluded from federal labor laws. &nbsp;Over the last two weeks, we&rsquo;ve reported on disabled workers who legally earn less than a dollar an hour and the over 3 million Americans earning tipped wages. Today, we explore home care workers.&nbsp;</em></p><p>James and I meet in a car, outside a cafe. We&rsquo;re using a fake name for James because he worries the elderly couple he works for as a live-in caretaker will find out he is talking to the media.</p><p>James is shaking and carrying a small notebook. He says because he doesn&rsquo;t have co-workers, or see his wife or three kids for days, the only way to stay sane is to write down his struggles. He opens the notebook and starts reading.</p><p>His employers don&rsquo;t want to pay for him to use their water, so he brings drinking water and showers at home on his time off.</p><p>He sleeps in his employer&rsquo;s room and wakes in the middle of the night to help him go to the bathroom or take medicine. But when the couple naps during the day, he&rsquo;s expected to do chores. He never gets enough sleep.</p><p>He works six days a week, 24 hours a day.</p><p>&ldquo;One of our agreements is that I have to go home at least twice a week to get food and take a bath. But she keeps telling me now, &lsquo;no one would put up with this agreement. because you are paid 24 hours.&rsquo; That&rsquo;s not even the minimum wage.&rdquo;</p><p>Home care workers aren&rsquo;t included in the federal minimum wage. But they are covered by Illinois Law.</p><p>Still the state&rsquo;s laws aren&rsquo;t entirely clear and may allow for loopholes. <a href="http://www.dol.gov/whd/flsa/statemap/">According the Department of Labor, private households may not have to pay their home care workers minimum wage, because of a general exemption for employers with less than four employees.</a></p><p>James earns $720 a week, which if calculated over a 24 hour work, amounts to $5 an hour.&nbsp;</p><p>He&rsquo;s tried to leave his job. People have even interviewed for his position, but they always sniff out that it&rsquo;s a bad situation and refuse to take the job. So he stays, even though he says his employers mistreat him.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to feel guilty about leaving them and (I don&rsquo;t want) to abandon them,&rdquo; James said.</p><p>The job is taking its toll, he loses his temper all the time now. He feels he&rsquo;s acting in ways that go against his Filipino culture, which says he should always respect his elders. At 12, he changed his grandmother&#39;s bed when she wet it. Now he hates himself for being so angry at his employers, the people he&rsquo;s paid to care for. But he&rsquo;s just so exhausted.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re like robots or an equipment that every time you want to use, you can just use. I get tired too.&rdquo;</p><p>Eric Rodriguez organizes with <a href="http://www.latinounion.org/">Latino Union.</a> &ldquo;They don&rsquo;t have any rest. They are like zombies out there. &ldquo;</p><p>Rodriguez says the history of this second class of workers started with the racism of lawmakers who created the Fair Labor Act in the 1930s</p><p>&ldquo;I mean let&#39;s think about it, right? It was a negotiation between northern and southern states. And so the folks who were doing the domestic work back then were African- American women. And unfortunately what happened is domestic workers were intentionally excluded.&rdquo;</p><p>People who do domestic work are still on the margins of society. <a href="http://www.domesticworkers.org/homeeconomics/">Ninety-five percent of them are women, many immigrants.</a> Latino Union is part of a coalition trying to pass a <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=1708&amp;GAID=12&amp;DocTypeID=SB&amp;SessionID=85&amp;GA=98">Domestic Worker Bill of Rights in Illinois.</a> The bill would give domestic workers basic protections like guaranteed breaks to sleep or eat. The bill didn&#39;t come up for a vote this session, but advocates are still pushing for it.</p><p>Myrla Baldonado is a domestic worker who is heading up the campaign. She says her fellow workers are hard to organize because they don&rsquo;t work in one place, like a factory or a farm, and the relationships with their employers is complicated.</p><p>&ldquo;I make sure I love [my employers]&rdquo; said Baldonado. &ldquo;The difference with a factory job is there is intimacy. Everything is blurred. It&rsquo;s like they are demanding something from you not as a worker, but somebody else. Like maybe a daughter. It&rsquo;s very psychologically and physically challenging.&rdquo;</p><p>Baldonado says that she wanted to be a part of the families she served. But they&rsquo;d insult her and imply she was stupid or lazy. Still, she doesn&rsquo;t blame them.</p><p>&ldquo;When sick people are like that it&rsquo;s because they don&rsquo;t feel well. They do things they don&#39;t want to do,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Even as she provides love and care for her employers, she&rsquo;s sad she can&rsquo;t do that for her own family. &nbsp;Baldonado has four adopted children in her homeland of the Philippines. When she was a live-in caretaker, she&rsquo;d send more than half of her $1,750 monthly check to them. She ate mostly bananas and eggs to save extra cash. &nbsp;But it wasn&rsquo;t enough. The kids inherited hepatitis from their birth mother and spend a lot of the money on healthcare. They are repeatedly evicted.</p><p>&ldquo;I know that I am cutting corners to the extent of putting their health in jeopardy,&rdquo; said Baldonado. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s very difficult that I can care for other people, but I couldn&rsquo;t care for them.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite all her frustrations, Baldonado believes in the job that she does. As much as her activism is about labor laws, it&rsquo;s also about showing society the importance of caregiving work.</p><p>&ldquo;The value of care is not there, because it&rsquo;s done by women. And it&rsquo;s done in private spaces,&rdquo; said Baldonado.</p><p>She says without caregivers, people with elderly parents or young children couldn&rsquo;t have jobs. A phrase that she and organizers like to use is that domestic work is the work that makes all work possible. And doesn&rsquo;t that, Baldonado asks, at least earn them the same rights that everyone else has?</p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); line-height: 22px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/shannon_h" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; outline: 0px; border: 0px currentColor; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); line-height: inherit; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline;" target="_blank">@shannon_h</a></em></p><p><em>Correction/Clarification: Additional information about the Illinois law versus federal law was added to this story. The story was also changed to clarify that the workers profiled here were privately-hired home care workers. The story previously didn&rsquo;t offer a clear distinction between domestic workers and home care workers.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 10 Jun 2013 17:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/front-center/underpaid-exploited-and-living-our-homes-107624