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Chicago's Planning Director on Leadership During Crises

Maurice Cox, planning commissioner for the Chicago Department of Planning and Development, is the subject of this in-depth coverage by the Chicago Tribune.
June 29, 2020, 6am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Bret Habura

Blair Kamin interviewed Maurice Cox, the current planning commissioner of Chicago and previous planning chief in Detroit, who shares insight into how planners can help spur economic and social healing in U.S. cities while protecting residents of the public health risks of the pandemic.

According to Kamin, Cox's challenge in the city of Chicago must focus on the neighborhoods with the longest history of deliberate neglect. According to Kamin, these neighborhoods in Chicago saw looting during the protests following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis. 

While much of the national conversation in the wake of Floyd’s death has rightly focused on tearing down Confederate monuments and other symbols of racism, too little attention is being paid to the nitty-gritty task of building up African-American and Latino neighborhoods that have been hammered by decades of disinvestment and decay.

As specific evidence of the response of the multiple crises facing the most vulnerable residents of Chicago, Cox lists several specific initiatives underway at the Chicago Planning and Development Department, including a shift in priority for the INVEST South/West underway at the city, plans to allow outdoor dining for restaurants on the South and West sides, and forthcoming programs to invest in vacant properties in struggling communities in Englewood and Austin, among others.

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