Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle Launches 2023 Equity Plans in Historically Disinvested Communities
Cook County Equity Fund Taskforce provides updates on transformative policies and programs around health, housing, infrastructure, criminal justice and economic development, among others
COOK COUNTY, IL — Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the Equity Fund Taskforce are kicking off 2023 with Cook County’s plans to realign government resources and address disinvestment and inequities that have negatively impacted Black, Latine and other marginalized residents.
Under the guidance of nearly 90 community partners, the Cook County Equity Fund Progress Report showcases transformational equity policies and programs for 2023. These include establishing the County’s first ever Behavioral Health Authority, reforming the County’s property assessment and taxation system, increasing affordable housing and sheltering, supporting the County’s guaranteed income pilot program, and creating comprehensive re-entry plans and alternatives to policing.
The Progress Report follows up on the April 2022 release and launch of the Equity Fund Report which provided overall equity-focused recommendations for Cook County. The new report includes progress to date and plans with timelines for the implementation of those recommendations.
“I am proud that leaders across Cook County have embraced equity as a guiding principle of the County’s policies and priorities,” President Preckwinkle said. “This Equity Fund Progress Report demonstrates transformational movement on the depth of our countywide effort to boldly address historic inequities.”
In alignment with the Cook County Policy Roadmap: Five-year Strategic Plan for the Offices Under the President, the Office of the President created the Cook County Equity Fund and seeded it with an initial allocation of $40 million in Cook County’s Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) Budget. In the County’s FY22 Budget, an additional $10 million was allocated to the fund for a total balance of $50 million to be spent over fiscal years 2022 and 2023.
The Office of the President established the Equity Fund Taskforce in an effort to incorporate voices and viewpoints beyond Cook County government in determining how to structure and allocate these resources and guide Equity Fund spending principles.
Based on the Cook County Equity Fund Taskforce’s discussions and the Preckwinkle administration’s policy priorities, the Cook County Equity Fund Taskforce has created plans in alignment with the Cook County Policy Roadmap subgroups: i.e. Healthy Communities (health and wellness); Vital Communities (economic and community development); Safe and Thriving Communities (criminal justice and violence reduction); Sustainable Communities (environmental justice and sustainability); Smart Communities (public infrastructure); and Open Communities (operational excellence and good governance).
Highlights of the Equity Taskforce’s plans for 2023 are below, and copies of the 2021 Equity Fund inaugural report and the 2022 progress report can be found here.
Health and Wellness
- Cook County has historically been one of the largest metro areas without a behavioral health authority. In FY23, Cook County will:
- Embark on the creation of a Behavioral Health Authority that is comprehensive, accessible, preventative, and culturally responsive, and recognizes the intersections between health, housing, and justice involvement.
- Develop key performance indicators and establish an oversight board on behavioral health.
- Cook County has adopted a Health Equity in All Policies (HEiAP) approach to policymaking and will conduct in FY23 a comprehensive assessment of existing priorities, needs and opportunities.
Cook County is addressing the root causes of poverty, housing instability, the racial wealth gap and historical disinvestment in Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and other marginalized communities through a range of substantial and transformative initiatives and programs. Highlights for FY23 include:
- Evaluate Cook County’s property assessment and taxation system and provide recommendations to make it more equitable.
- Explore new shelter options to transition from hotel-based sheltering models to permanent supportive housing; the goal being to create a more person-centered, accessible and trauma-informed shelter system.
- Develop a Mortgage Assistance Program that provides direct financial assistance to sustain and preserve homeownership and prevent displacement with the goal of bridging the generational wealth gap.
- Continue to champion the $42 million Promise Guaranteed Income Pilot and provide 3,250 Cook County households with direct monthly $500 payments.
- Continue to champion the $70 million Small Business Grant Program that also provides 1:1 business advising.
- Develop inclusive procurement strategies to increase the pipeline of M/WBEs in the County’s procurement process.
Criminal Justice Reform and Violence Prevention
- Develop a comprehensive and coordinated countywide re-entry plan that works to support residents returning to their communities from detention, jail and prison including the launch of a Returning Resident Rental Assistance Program.
- Continue to invest in the Fair Transit pilot and complete the Cook County Transit Plan with the goal of making it more convenient, affordable and equitable.
- Develop and release the County’s first regional Digital Equity Action Plan.
Environmental Justice and Sustainability
- Establish three climate resilience hubs in the south suburbs.
- Begin developing an Environmental Justice Policy.
- Launch the Lead Service Line Replacement Pilot.
- Begin developing new engagement models to increase community involvement and participation in County decision-making.
- Conduct an equity audit for immigrant and refugee communities.
- Develop the Cannabis Business Development Program to support social equity applicants.