Through Project Hometown’s community engagement, we have been listening to diverse perspectives on the challenges of the pandemic and long-standing barriers to economic opportunity. Across a range of Project Hometown events, our region’s experts shared:
- Even before the pandemic, life expectancy for Black Chicagoans was on average 8.8 years fewer than other Chicago residents.
- Only 2% of minority businesses nationwide gross over $1 million annually, in part because of a lack of access to credit that stems from centuries of discrimination within the financial sector.
- Over the past 40 years, the disappearance of manufacturing jobs, combined with discriminatory housing policies and disinvestment, have left many minority “middle neighborhoods” particularly vulnerable to economic shocks.
These facts are only a few examples of the unequal outcomes in our communities. They have helped motivate our interest in digging deeper into other facets of inequality and bringing about a greater understanding of the challenges confronting communities.
From July 2020 to November 2021, the Chicago Fed hosted multiple public forums with experts and policy makers across the district to listen and learn what our communities need in order to recover, meet future challenges, become more resilient, and thrive.
We know that the pandemic disrupted education and employment opportunities for millions of young people in our communities. It also brought to light existing inequities in the economy that neither started with the pandemic nor will resolve once the pandemic ends.
As a sign of our commitment to our communities, the Chicago Fed:
- Heard from front-line education leaders working in our communities to help youth thrive.
- Is encouraging business leaders to support improved economic outcomes for young people through the creation of Summer Jobs Programs.
- Is connecting policymakers who can enact meaningful change with evidence-based research via our Economic Mobility Project.
- Is addressing the economic and financial barriers that stand in the way of Lead Service Line Replacement across the Midwest.