Historic Victory for Environmental Justice on Chicago’s South Side
The city of Chicago reached a historic settlement in May 2023 with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and three South Side environmental justice organizations. This settlement aims to address the consequences of decades of discriminatory land use and development practices that disproportionately burdened disadvantaged communities with pollution, referred to as "sacrifice zones." Under the settlement, Chicago's chief sustainability officer and the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health are required to share the results of a cumulative impact assessment (CIA) by October 31, 2023. This assessment will kickstart the development of a cumulative impacts ordinance to dismantle the structures creating sacrifice zones. Additionally, the Office of Climate and Environmental Equity and other city departments will collaborate to create an Environmental Justice Action Plan by September 1, 2023. The settlement also involves updating zoning regulations and improving transparency and information resources for various land use initiatives. This marks a significant victory for environmental justice in the city.