It’s no secret that many Black and brown communities in Chicago have the victims of decades-long disinvestment. More than 50 years ago, following the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., cities around the country, including Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles, erupted in riots. The West Side of Chicago, in particular, is still reeling from the impacts of that three-day uprising of April 1968.

“Here in Garfield Park, we are talking about a lack of investment in our community, specifically the commercial corridor of Madison and Pulaski. Since the King riots, these areas have been destroyed and never invested in again,” said Greg Matthews, a community engagement manager at the Garfield Park Rite To Wellness Collaborative. 

The West Side-based organization’s mission is to cultivate wellness by addressing Garfield Park residents’ spiritual, socioeconomic, political and physical needs. 

Matthews joined Mayor Brandon Johnson, Deputy Mayor of Community Safety Garien Gatewood and Ald. Jason Ervin (28th Ward) on March 13 to unveil phase two of The People’s Plan for Community Safety. 

During the announcement, held at the Garfield Park Gold Dome Field House, the Johnson administration laid out its focus areas, including 10 blocks within four communities in Englewood, Garfield Park, Austin and Little Village (South Lawndale) that have been hit the hardest by disinvestment and most impacted by violence. 

This community-led initiative unites a coalition of community organizations, government, philanthropy, youth leaders, faith organizations, researchers and businesses to address historic disinvestment and reimagine public safety. 

Officials said they used metrics such as shootings, shuttered public schools and the presence of parks and libraries to determine where they focus resources and investments. 

“We know what creates violence in a neighborhood,” Mayor Johnson said. “It’s the lack of job opportunities, disengagement from school or access to alternate pathways to careers, [and] disengagement from housing and housing instability, and of course storefront vacancies.”

Using a two-pronged approach, the administration will focus on outreach and intervention with youth and adults, as well as victims and survivors of violence. The administration said it would also incorporate layered investments in people and places to address the root causes of violence, including education, economic opportunity, housing, health, community environment, community violence intervention and policing. 

“We know what causes violence, and we can remedy those disparities with new programs and deepen investments,” Johnson continued.  

Below is a listing of the four community areas that the Johnson administration will target with investments and resources: 

Between 59th and 63rd streets plus Garfield Boulevard in Englewood

Between Madison, Lexington, plus Kenton, Kolmar, and Adams near the Eisenhower Expressway in West Garfield Park

Madison, Laramie, Lavergne and West End streets in Austin

Between 26th and 27th streets near Kildare to Pulaski in Little Village 

In April, the administration will open an application period for community-based organizations to submit proposals. The chosen organizations will work with the Johnson administration to prevent violence and crime in Englewood, West Garfield Park, Austin, and Little Village. The city will provide $1 million in public dollars to be split evenly among each community area.

The Johnson administration said it’s already started phase two by working with community organizations and listening to community members’ needs. Gatewood said they’ve hosted 29 community meetings with hundreds of stakeholders citywide. He’s the deputy mayor of Community Safety.  

He added that the administration would be “working in a partnership with communities.”

“We’re not going to dictate to communities and tell them what they need. It’s a matter of showing up for them, working hand in hand,” he explained.

is a multimedia reporter for The TRiiBE.