Chicago Spending Millions On City Beautification To Stop Shootings

The city of Chicago has dumped millions into new programs aimed at combating gun violence with yard work.

Chicago, IL – The city of Chicago has dumped millions into new programs aimed at combating gun violence with yard work and neighborhood beautification projects.

Despite a budget shortfall of $1 billion – which Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot blamed as the cause for a city-wide hiring freeze – city leaders earmarked a whopping $7.4 million towards programs that focus on making crime-ridden areas of the city more visually appealing, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

As of Friday, 372 people have been murdered in Chicago in 2019 alone, according to the paper.

Over 330 of those deaths were caused by shootings.

Proponents of the projects noted that research in other cities has revealed a decrease in violent crime in areas where similar projects were undertaken.

“There is something about physical space that signals whether or not this is an area where crime can happen,” University of Michigan assistant professor Justin Heinze told the Chicago Sun-Times. “This literature goes way back into the 1970s, and there’s a lot of evidence to support it.”

Researchers concluded that the beautification efforts signaled to criminals that the area was being watched, and that eliminating abandoned vehicles and buildings removed places for them to hide illegal contraband.

In recent months, Lightfoot unveiled a $250,000 pilot program called “Grounds for Peace,” which targeted 50 vacant lots to be converted into gardens, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The work is being carried out by dozens of at-risk men through a partnership with READI Chicago.

Another nonprofit group, Urban Growers Collective, will oversee the projects and the workers’ training.

“This is a really progressive thing for a city to spearhead,” Urban Growers Collective co-founder Erika Allen told the Chicago Sun-Times. “These guys are really trying. And, in the end, they’ll walk away having done something that impacts everybody in a positive way.”

But some experts, including Lincoln Institute for Land Policy representative Alan Mallach, warned that beautification projects are not a “magic bullet,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“If you’re going to be serious about trying to use this as a way to address gun violence, it’s got to be part of the strategy, not the whole thing,” Mallach stressed.

Although the city found millions of dollars to pour into the beautification projects, the same can’t be said for hiring new police officers.

“With Chicago facing one of the largest budgetary gaps in recent history, these measures are just one part of a broader approach we must take to restore our finances and put Chicago on a path to a stronger, more secure future,” City of Chicago Budget Director Susie Park said in a statement to the Chicago Sun-Times in August.

“The hiring freeze, in effect until further notice, will allow the Budget Office to take a hard look at our programs, services and operational needs to determine our spending priorities for 2020,” Park said.

The decision to extend the hiring freeze to include the Chicago police was significant because it was the exact opposite of what the department has been trying to achieve for the last few years, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

In 2016, then-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel launched a two-year plan to add more than 1,000 officers to the Chicago Police Department in response to the rise in homicides and violent crime in the city.

Right now, Chicago has 13,400 sworn officers on the streets plus “dozens of additional sergeants and detectives,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

The class of recruits that graduated from the police academy in August was the last for the time being under the hiring freeze.

The city has cancelled the recruit class that was scheduled to begin in September, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

The budget director said that the city would make “priority positions that directly affect the health and safety” of Chicago residents exempt from the hiring freeze.

The mayor’s office tried to assure residents that their safety would not be affected by Lightfoot’s decision, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“This exemption will ensure departments like police, fire and aviation remain staffed and prepared for seasonal work and will ensure basic services remain in place for all communities,” the mayor’s office said in a statement. “The city will work to ensure the hiring freeze does not impact police/patrol coverage and to ensure the freeze doesn’t limit the number of personnel devoted to solving crimes.”

The mayor, who was headed out of town on vacation right after the hiring freeze was announced, was said to be laying the groundwork for another round of tax increases for the residents of Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Lightfoot’s vacation with her wife and daughter to Maine was in itself controversial after she ordered the city’s police officials to cancel their summer travel plans in light of the crime emergency on the city streets.

When she found out an official had taken a pre-planned vacation anyway, she lambasted him in the media.

“That would be incredibly disappointing to me if that happened because I gave a very specific directive that no exempt should be taking vacation during the summer,” Lightfoot said at the time. “So, if that happened, that’ll be something that we have to have a serious conversation about.”

“The exempts have to set the example,” she declared. “And the example of doing something the mayor has directed them not to do is highly problematic.”

While visiting a police strategic command center on Aug. 15, Lightfoot discussed the personal sacrifices she makes as a public servant.

“People tell me all the time to ‘oh you’re so busy and you should take time off,’ [but] it’s really important for me to be visible,” she claimed.

Lightfoot departed on her week-long vacation just days later, even though 22 people were wounded and three were murdered in a series of shootings across the city the weekend prior.

Another seven people were killed and 46 were wounded during shootings that took place over the first weekend in August, according to WBBM.

Comments (39)
No. 1-24
sherlock635
sherlock635

Yeah, this should work. And all that nice new mulch in the photo should be able to absorb the blood.

THEDUKE
THEDUKE

"The work is being carried out by dozens of at-risk men through a partnership with READI Chicago.Another nonprofit group, Urban Growers Collective, will oversee the projects and the workers’ training.“This is a really progressive thing for a city to spearhead,” Urban Growers Collective co-founder Erika Allen told the Chicago Sun-Times. “These guys are really trying. And, in the end, they’ll walk away having done something that impacts everybody in a positive way.”

You know you have to give them a chance to see if it makes a difference as at least they are trying to think about positive solutions. Put some of these same people to work cleaning up the trashed areas as well and who knows? Time will tell. Kudos to the young boys/men who are participating and at least they are earning some money doing legitimate work . See if it works here and then test case Baltimore and ST Louis. Not sure yet how this will affect the drug dealers and gang bangers but it's a start.

sturnman22
sturnman22

More trees - fewer police - sounds like a plan!

sherlock635
sherlock635

Dozens of at-risk men is code speak for black men. This is just plain old modern day slavery. Sarcasm intended.

flybynight
flybynight

This may require some soul patrol troll logic. So let's wait for that before we get to far out in front of this. What say you soul patrol ?

Excalibr4
Excalibr4

Yeeeeeeah.... all the gangbangers are going to put down their guns and pick up a shovel. None of it will end until we stop feeding the beast.

Crash1001
Crash1001

It’s like putting lipstick and earrings on a pig....... she should put that money into putting more police on the beat in those hoods. The judges need to enforce the gun laws on the books. “Use a gun in a crime to the time. Minimum 25 years” these thugs walk on reduced sentences and are rarely prosecuted for violating the current gun laws.

Crash1001
Crash1001

Liberals, ruining American cities for as long as I can remember. 50 + year and not stopping.

Pat1978
Pat1978

Reminds me of the 'broken windows' theory. I'm not sure about the dollar amount but it seems like a good idea.

ikaika
ikaika

I have an idea for that money. Hire more police, prosecutors, and probation officers. Recall Kim Foxx and get a real prosecutor in that office. And put up more cameras in crime-ridden areas.

Jim H. - Virginia US
Jim H. - Virginia US

Not a fan of new spending, but it is probably better than more welfare. Part of the problem with the inner cities is that people have no purpose in life, and a structured job, requiring simply getting up every day to go to a job is probably a great way to reduce crime.

Personally, I think we should start with all able-bodied welfare recipients. I don't really care what they are doing, as long as they are doing something. They can fill potholes, pick up trash, be crime lookouts, paint old buildings, whatever. There will be an additional cost in doing so for administration of the program and to supply materials, but it's basically "free" labor that we are paying for already. Shoot, pay them $10/hr or whatever the minimum is. So if they currently get $1000/month for doing nothing, mandate 100 hours per month of work.

Bet you it would result in people figuring out that they can actually go out and get a real job, and get a sense of personal pride, some physical activity, and learn how easy and rewarding it is to contribute to society.

JBo
JBo

"...programs that focus on making crime-ridden areas of the city more visually appealing..."

Does this include more street sweepers to sweep up shell casings? Just asking.

Chicago. Beautification projects. Can't make this stuff up.

IseeWhereThisIsGoing
IseeWhereThisIsGoing

Wasn't this similar to the Broken Window Theory that was credit as helping to reduce crime in NYC in the 90s?

portManaT13
portManaT13

So Lori Lightweight is setting the stage for another round of tax increases for the "haves" in the City of Chicago. Sure, that'll work just fine. People are emigrating from Illinois at an alarming rate. Businesses are moving out, too.

With the businesses go legitimate jobs. That leaves the low income people with little or no opportunity to have legal employment, so they get into unsavory businesses. The cops won't protect them, so they resort to "wild, wild West" justice. Until these people can get good jobs so they don't live and work in the shadows, the downward spiral of Chicago, and Illinois, will continue.

magnumforc
magnumforc

So the next murder victim won't have to lied dying in front of a run down overgrown vacant lot. Brilliant, just f'in brilliant.

Caddis
Caddis

Oh great. They're removing all the cover and concealment so it'll be easier to hit people. I think the murder rate will go up now...but then again, bad people killing bad people saves more oxygen for the good people.

CinGuz
CinGuz

Nothing like stopping gangs than green grass, rose bushes, & petunias. At least the police, paramedics, and the coroner will have a better view when doing their jobs. Thanks Lori for spending our tax dollars wisely.

TarnishedCopper
TarnishedCopper

You somehow have to attract new victims to the areas...Duh!!

tfort
tfort

Getting people invested into their community is always a good thing.

61mouse
61mouse

That's nice they are making cemeteries in the shooting gallery

Gap Filler
Gap Filler

This is nothing more than placing a bandage on a pinhole water leak in the Hoover Dam, sooner or later it's going to give way and burst.

This action, while commendable, provides only a short term solution to a long time problem.

Chicago's going to have to do better than this.

lrogers664
lrogers664

At least the crime scenes will be prettier.

DNW
DNW

It's difficult to believe that the city has no superfluous expenditures anywhere that could be considered less of a priority than hiring officers.

qazwiz
qazwiz

part of problem is the excessive under-financed retirement plans that Illinois Supreme Court says must be followed despite bad faith origins .... if a company went bankrupt, all employees would lose pensions but Illinois can't even readjust to a more reasonable debt.