Some residents feel 'shut out' of vision for 'Invest South/West' program, Illinois Answers finds

CHICAGO (WLS) — A Chicago initiative aimed at investing more in underserved neighborhoods is getting mixed reactions from some people.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s highly touted “Invest South/West” program aims to spend $750 million in neighborhoods in need of development. When Lightfoot unveiled the program months into her term, she promised a collaborative, “community-based planning and development strategy that will ensure equitable investment in the South and West sides.”

However some residents say they’ve felt shut out of any real decision-making, said Illinois Answers Project reporter Sidnee King.

“When it comes down to it, they’re really unsure how developments are being chosen,” said King. “They feel shut out of those conversations and like they don’t have a seat at that table.”

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ABC7 reached out to the city about the report from Illinois Answers Project. The Chicago Department of Planning and Development responded with the following statement:

“The story may accurately reflect the sentiments of 12 individuals but it largely ignores relevant facts and data that counter its narrative, including the input of thousands of other stakeholders that participated in unprecedented levels of community engagement through meetings, workshops, surveys and other strategies that have helped to make INVEST South/West a model for urban revitalization.

While the City is sympathetic to residents who’s personal goals for the program have yet to be realized due to market conditions, financial realities and related factors, the story overtly prioritized complaints over critical analysis, short-term issues over long-term improvements, and one-sided conclusions over objective reporting. It also dismissed the program’s overall success in generating more than $2 billion in public and private investment commitments in areas that had virtually no significant investment three years ago. The City encourages the reporters to continue to monitor INVEST South/West processes and outcomes in the months ahead.”

To read more about this investigation, visit the Illinois Answers Project website.

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