Black and Latino communities get less funding

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DOWNTOWN — The Chicago Park District sends more money to white, North Side and high-income neighborhoods than to parks serving minority and low-income communities, according to a new report.

the Analysis of the state of the parkswhich was created by Friends of the Parks and published Wednesday, reports that parks on the north side tend to have larger budgets than parks on the south side — even those of similar sizes — and more “robust” programming.

And parks that serve black and Latino neighborhoods are less likely to have capital improvement requests approved than parks that serve white communities, according to the report.

“Parks, amenities and programs continue to be unevenly distributed across the city,” according to the report. “The approval rate for capital requests suggests significant class and racial inequalities.”

The Chicago Park District could not immediately be reached for comment, but board members said at a meeting on Wednesday that parts of the report were inaccurate.

Friends of the Parks notes in its report that this year marks the 35th anniversary of when the Park District began working under a consent decree to ensure that parks serving minority populations receive equal funding and attention. The consent decree ended in 1989, and it now appears Chicago parks are “losing ground” that was taken under the decree.

The report highlighted 10 findings:

  1. Communities with Latino populations have about 197 acres of parkland, “by far the least of any racial group in the city,” according to the report. These communities also receive the least amount of capital investment.
  2. Capital requests for parks in communities with a predominantly black population are only half as likely to be approved as capital requests in white communities.
  3. Communities with high-income populations are twice as likely to have capital requests approved compared to communities with low-income populations.
  4. Parks on the north side have “significantly more robust” programming than parks on the south side, according to the report.
  5. The Park District’s problems with crime, such as an “unclear” safety strategy, mean that parks “too often… do not contribute to the health of the community,” according to the report.
  6. Park advisory boards, which are supposed to be independent, are “increasingly” under the control of the park district, according to the report.
  7. The Park District Board of Commissioners is not an elected body and its members are therefore not fully independent but rather “accountable to the mayor”, according to the report.
  8. According to the report, half of the money intended to help “needy young people” to participate in the Park District is not used.
  9. South side parks have smaller budgets than north side parks, even when they are of similar sizes and classes.
  10. The city needs more green spaces.

Read the full report:

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