Illinois Forum Seeks to Change the Way Congress Approaches and Invests in Older, Industrial Communities Like Flint
EAST HAZEL CREST –(ENEWSPF)—May 15, 2018
By: James Lewis and Robyn Bryan
Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL-02) and Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) hosted a forum yesterday in East Hazel Crest, Ill., focused on how communities across the country are facing significant fiscal stress due to extreme austerity measures that have reduced essential public services such as emergency medical services, police, fire services and trash collection.
The forum is part of Congressman Kildee’s ongoing “The Future of America’s Cities and Towns” initiative to better align local, state and federal policies with the unique challenges facing older, industrial communities. Kildee serves as the co-chair of the Congressional Urban Caucus and Vice Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee.
Other panelists at today’s forum included John A. Ostenburg, the Mayor of Park Forest, Ill., Eugene Williams, the Mayor of Lynwood, Ill., and Elizabeth Schuh, a policy analyst at the Chicago Metropolitan agency for planning. Seven other mayors and multiple city managers from the area also attended and shared their perspective on how Congress can help their cities and towns find ways to be successful.
“I’m so glad to welcome Congressman Kildee and his fourth ‘The Future of America’s Cities and Town’ roundtable initiative to East Hazel Crest and Chicagoland. Today’s roundtable is the first one held in America’s heartland, where we could hear directly about the issues facing American communities,” Rep. Kelly said “I’m also so proud of our mayors who succinctly described common concerns facing countless communities across America – aging infrastructure, shrinking tax base, cuts in federal and state dollars, tax incentives that favor well-to-do cities. But more importantly, the mayors proposed common-sense solutions that can help the Southland, as well as similarly struggling suburbs. The mayors’ message was clear. Invest now to fix minor problems before they become major problems. They talked about the need for a Marshall Plan for the suburbs that addresses disinvestment as a whole.”
“Because of budget cuts and extreme austerity measures, there are a whole subset of cities and towns across the country that are struggling to provide basic public services to their residents, including police, fire and trash pick-up,” Congressman Kildee said. “Even during periods of economic growth for our country, many older, industrial communities—including my hometown of Flint—have continued to struggle. It is time for Congress and our policy makers to think differently about how we invest in these communities to help families who live in these places. We all have a stake in communities like Flint, East Hazel Crest and others and Congress needs to work in a bipartisan way to expand opportunity. For too long, the federal government has been on the sidelines. We need to change that. I want to thank Congresswoman Robin Kelly for her help hosting this important discussion today.”
The Future of America’s Cities and Towns is an initiative launched by Congressman Kildee to highlight the many challenges that cities and towns across the U.S. face regarding infrastructure needs, economic development, housing, blight and jobs in the modern economy. The initiative calls for a national strategy on how Congress invests in American cities and towns.
The first roundtable included Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, Maxine Waters (CA-43), and focused on the unique challenges facing many older, industrial cities and towns. The second roundtable focused on economic and community development financing and included Vice Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee Brian Higgins (NY-26). The third roundtable included Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, Vice Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and focused on how Congress must make critical investments to improve America’s water infrastructure system, including replacing lead pipes to protect public health.
Congressman Kildee also previously spoke at the TrustBelt conference in Des Moines, Iowa, and events hosted by the Urban Institute and the National Leagues of Cities in Washington, D.C., all on the need to focus on investing in older, industrial cities and towns.