Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced the City of Chicago is taking additional steps to further prevent violence in neighborhoods experiencing high levels of violence by investing $10.4 million to sustain youth mentoring programs that have had demonstrable success in violence reduction.
The investment is being made possible through new legal settlements with Uber, Lyft and Via to settle allegations that the companies committed process violations by performing background checks that were not consistent with Chicago’s standards as set by the City’s rideshare ordinance.
“The future success of Chicago depends on the investments we make today in our youth,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I want to thank every one of our partners for joining us to reach our universal mentoring goal, and ensuring our young people have the tools they need to stay on the right track and build a bright future for themselves and our entire city.”
This latest investment builds on the Emanuel Administration’s efforts to invest in youth as a key component of the city’s overall violence prevention and public safety strategy.
In March, the Mayor announced that Chicago has surpassed its three-year goal of delivering universal mentoring in 8th, 9th, and 10th grades and opened enrollment for 7th grade students. This new funding will allow the City to extend the life of the program and expand the reach into additional programs. To date, the City has invested $13 million in support of the Mayor’s Mentoring Initiative with an additional $12 million provided through private support.
The Mayor’s Mentoring Initiative is a core component of the City’s public safety strategy. In partnership with nearly 60 community-based agencies, it lays out a clear path to provide youth in 22 neighborhoods experiencing high levels of violence with the support they need to remain on-track to graduate high school and avoid involvement in the criminal justice system.
Research by the University of Chicago Crime Lab suggests mentorship has been proven to be an effective strategy for increasing high school graduation rates and reducing violence. In two randomized controlled trials, the Crime Lab found that Becoming a Man (BAM) cuts violent-crime arrests among youth in half and boosts the high school graduation rates of participants by nearly 20 percent.
The $10.4 million legal settlements are with Uber, Lyft and Via and speaks to the requirements in Chicago’s rideshare ordinance.
“The goal of the commonsense regulation of the rideshare industry was to ensure consumers have access to a variety of safe, reliable transportation options,” said Mayor Emanuel. “As a result of this settlement, Uber, Lyft and Via recognized that an error was made and took immediate steps to ensure public safety by making changes to ensure compliance with our ordinance. Further, the settlement will allow us to further promote public safety by allowing for us to expand violence prevention initiatives.”
Chicago’s rideshare ordinance has some of the strictest requirements in the nation for background checks on drivers. For example, it prohibits drivers with recent multiple moving violations and negative chauffeur license status, as well as drivers with a criminal history from driving for a period of five years after they have exited the justice system, including any probation or parole. However, the city discovered that these rideshare companies had allowed some drivers with ineligible backgrounds to drive.
“Safety is the number one priority for anyone who uses a rideshare vehicle, and Chicago adopted the toughest requirements in the nation to ensure everyone who chooses to hire a rideshare can have a safe, comfortable ride,” said Rosa Escareno, Commissioner of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. “The background checks are the foundation of safety, and the companies took immediate steps to correct their processes once we notified them.”
The City is unaware of any safety violations being committed by any driver that joined before they were eligible. All companies have rerun background checks on their drivers, are now following the correct process and there are no disqualified drivers currently working for any of these companies.
In addition to internal changes to their processes, Uber is paying $6.4 million, Lyft $4 million and Via $62,500.
“These settlements reflect Chicago’s commitment to enforcing its ordinances and send a strong message that businesses must follow the proper procedures when conducting business in Chicago,” said Chicago Corporation Counsel Ed Siskel. “We will continue to be vigilant when it comes to protecting our residents and holding companies accountable for their improper actions.”
The Department of Law worked closely with the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection to ensure the processes were corrected, background checks were being performed in compliance with the ordinance and that the companies were being held accountable.
“We discovered an error in our compliance process last year that did not fully capture some specific requirements of the Chicago ordinance. We immediately took corrective action to fix the error and have since conducted extensive reviews with the City to bring our processes fully in line with Chicago regulatory requirements. As our new CEO has made clear, we are committed to doing the right thing and take our responsibility to comply with regulations seriously. We are proud to serve Chicago and will continue investing in efforts to serve residents across every neighborhood," said Uber Midwest Regional General Manager Erin Guthrie.
"The safety of the Lyft community is our top priority. We've worked closely with the city to switch background check providers and re-screen all active Chicago drivers. Our goal has always been to provide safe, reliable, affordable transportation for Chicagoans,” said Prashanthi Raman, Lyft Director of Public Policy.
"Safety is, and always has been, of utmost concern to us at Via,” said Alex Lavoie, Via U.S. General Manager. “We're very pleased to continue our close relationship with the City of Chicago and work together to ensure that every Via ride is meeting the highest safety standards."
Since taking office, Mayor Emanuel has made mentoring universal for young men in high crime areas, more than doubled the size of the city’s youth summer jobs program and expanded after-school programming every year.
These settlements were handled by the recently created Affirmative Litigation Division of the Department of Law. Formed in 2018, the Affirmative Litigation Division works to ensure the rights of Chicago residents are proactively protected and that private businesses comply with Chicago ordinances.