A coalition of concerned organizations and community leaders has developed this sign-on letter to request greater leadership from Mayor Emanuel to protect the rights and safety-net services of low-income people in Chicago. Please review the letter below and lend your organizational or individual endorsement in the fields below. Endorsements will be accepted until Monday, March 11, 2013 at 5:00 p.m.

The Honorable Rahm Emanuel
Mayor of Chicago
121 N. LaSalle Street
City Hall, 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60602

Dear Mayor Emanuel:

As a coalition of human service providers, advocates, and community leaders, we request your leadership to restore civility, compassion, and judiciousness to the discourse on public policy that affects Chicagoans who experience poverty, hunger and housing insecurity.

We wholeheartedly endorse your vision for Chicago as a place where its most vulnerable residents receive help to meet their most basic survival and recovery needs. With the assistance of essential City services, responsive municipal laws and regulations, and in partnership with faith-based institutions and non-profit health, housing and service agencies, we must work together to empower our neighbors who are less fortunate.

Your response to food insecurity and homelessness is emblematic of the values we share as proud Chicagoans. While much work remains to fulfill the vision of Chicago’s Plan 2.0: A Home for Everyone, we applaud the constructive roadmap you developed with stakeholders’ input to alleviate the plight of housing insecurity and homelessness. Your administration’s forceful response to food deserts is another example of the civic-minded principles you call on us to uphold.

These examples notwithstanding, recent instances of highly publicized antagonism toward disadvantaged Chicagoans are troubling. Efforts to scapegoat those less fortunate—and the institutions that serve them—undermine progress toward a healthier community.

Moreover, a tenor of hostility toward residents who suffer from mental illnesses, substance abuse, hunger and housing insecurity could jeopardize the carefully laid plans that you have sensibly spurred to end hunger and homelessness.

Mr. Mayor, we need your leadership now to publicly and definitively assert that:

1. Chicago must steadily increase—and not diminish—low-income housing stock available to impoverished tenants and those escaping homelessness, as described in Plan 2.0.

- Preserving the scarcity of low-rent housing units available through SROs and cubicle hotels is imperative. To do otherwise compounds the burden of homelessness, distressing hundreds of vulnerable residents and underfunded City services.

- City enforcement for safe, code-compliant, affordable-rent dwellings must aim to improve and preserve living standards and available units. Nothing is more unsafe or hazardous than not having a home.

2. Food, shelter, supportive housing, behavioral health and medical services provided by local agencies and City services must continue to be geographically available in communities where the needs are greatest.

- The aid provided to disadvantaged Chicagoans makes our communities safer and stronger. We take pride in the help we can offer those less fortunate.

- While some geographic areas warrant more targeted services than others, all of Chicago has a stake in responding to the plight of needy residents.

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