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Community Renewal Society

Our congregation is an active member of Community Renewal Society – a powerful network of over 60 congregations in metro-Chicago advocating for social and economic justice.   

Each year, CRS member congregations vote on the key issues and campaigns to focus on throughout the year. Here are the five campaigns for the 2015-2016 Platform for Renewal:

Reclaim Campaign: Reduce Violence with Restorative Justice
The goal of the Reclaim Campaign is to reduce violence by moving financial resources away from overly punitive Cook County criminal justice systems into community-based Restorative Justice Peace Hubs. Peace Hubs give people tools to transform and rehabilitate lives and make our communities safer. Restorative Justice Peace Hubs work to build relationships, repair harm, and reduce trauma and violence by putting residents at the center of addressing conflict in their communities. We also continue to monitor that the plans to close units of Cook County Jail are implemented.

Remove Barriers to Employment for People with Records
The FORCE (Fighting to Overcome Records and Create Equality) Project is working to pass legislation to remove bars to employment in the healthcare industry. Current law makes it illegal or extremely difficult for employers in healthcare facilities to hire a person with a record, even if the person is qualified and has gone through the appropriate waiver process to apply. These discriminatory laws doom people with records to a cycle of unemployment, poverty, and recidivism. We are working to remove such barriers to employment. 

A Just State Budget: Increase Revenue to Protect Vital Services
Illinois faces a $6 billion structural deficit in FY16. Governor Rauner proposed a FY16 budget that cuts vital programs and services and will devastate our communities. The resulting tax cuts disproportionately benefit people with higher incomes and will cost Illinois $6 billion a year in revenue that previously supported education, healthcare, human services and public safety. This budget is unacceptable and must be rejected because it would cause great harm to Illinois families by eliminating services for homeless youth, immigrant services, after school programs, and some mental health services. We support a revenue package that would raise revenue to avoid unnecessary cuts to social services. In addition, our campaign is calling for a fair tax, including a graduated income tax to adequately fund education and other vital services without putting additional burdens on those least able to afford it.

Westside Community Benefits Coalition: Fighting for Good Jobs and Housing
We call on Gateway Development Partners to sign a Community Benefits Agreement with our Westside Community Benefits Coalition guaranteeing local residents benefit from good jobs and housing. The Illinois Medical District Commission (IMDC), a public entity on the near West side, is beginning a massive new development project, which will include a hotel, retail stores, a restaurant, and more than 200 housing units, resulting in more than 1000 new, permanent jobs. A Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) will ensure that this development provides: good jobs ($15 an hour) to the neighborhoods on the West side with the highest rates of unemployment; opportunities for employment for people with records and the long-term unemployed; and designates a portion of the housing units for affordable housing. Our coalition will also work to have similar agreements for the Cook County Stroger Hospital redevelopment.

Ending Police Brutality, Sweeps, and the Criminalization of People of Color
Community Renewal Society supports a comprehensive solution to police accountability that includes changes to police oversight policies at the city and state level. After last year’s passage of SB1304 creating statewide guidelines for stop and frisk, officer training and body cameras, we rededicate ourselves to transforming civilian oversight of policing and police accountability. At the state level, we will create legislation to remove barriers to filing a complaint against the police, stop the destruction of records of police misconduct, and take additional measures to ensure fair and independent investigations of police misconduct. At the city level, we are beginning a major effort to transform police oversight by creating an independent police auditor and publicly elected police review board.