The Chicago Metropolis 2020 is a report released in 1999 by the Commercial Club of Chicago that speaks to the strengths and weaknesses of Chicago and the region. There is empirical research involved to create the report and it recommends specific changes that community and political leaders and business executives can take to improve the myriad situations of living for all metropolitan citizens.

In the Executive Summary, one reads about what physical, environmental and social elements constitute the city and its inequalities. Part 4 is the abstract on Land Use and Housing.

In the beginning of this section, one reads about the facts that most Chicagoans already know: public housing is a center of “joblessness, social isolation, and family and community dysfunction…”

One remedy or suggestion for positive change included in this section of the executive summary is one that involves business owners and employers. I’m glad to see that the Commercial Club members did not exclude themselves from solving some of the region’s problems. However, their involvement, as proposed by the report, remains quite weak.

It says that businesses, “in collaboration with local governments, consider these approaches” and “should coordinate” [italics mine] housing programs that are employer supported. That is very weak language and doesn’t exactly commit any business member of the Commercial Club to move forward with programs that will get their employees in housing subsidized by the companies themselves. If anything, local governments should ask the employers for some backup in rare moments.

Nowhere in the land use and housing section of the report’s summary is any responsibility left solely in the hands of business owners and corporations. That’s disappointing.

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