Mayor Lightfoot Reflects on Chicago’s Prosperity in 2022
CHICAGO — Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and her administration are highlighting some key accomplishments made on behalf of the residents of Chicago throughout 2022, a year of sustained progress and prosperity. This year ushered in the stability budget, which will continue the Mayor’s efforts to create a safer, stronger, and more economically resilient city. Chicago also saw increased levels of investments in community safety, essential services, and additional resources to improve the quality of life for those most in need. The administration celebrated the third anniversary of its signature program, INVEST South/West, an unprecedented revitalization strategy designed to transform communities. With equity front and center, Mayor Lightfoot brought relief to our city’s hardest-hit communities, empowered residents with the resources to build a safer city, and made catalytic investments throughout Chicago.
"As I reflect on this past year, I am deeply humbled and proud of all that we have accomplished working together," said Mayor Lightfoot. "When I became Mayor, I vowed to put our city on a new path forward, guided by equity and inclusivity, to build vibrant, safe, and strong communities. Now ahead of my fourth year as Mayor, I can confidently say that we have made incredible strides on that path, and our residents and communities are all the better for it. From investing in neighborhoods that hadn't seen a dime in decades to reimagining and expanding City services with a focus on equity and more, we are laying the foundation for a brighter future. There is more work that lies ahead of us, and I look forward to continuing my partnership with fellow City leaders, community stakeholders, and beyond to maintain Chicago's place as the best big city."
Under Mayor Lightfoot’s leadership, every City department and Sister Agency remained dedicated to serving all Chicagoans, meeting their needs, and deepening investments to create vibrant, resilient, and safe communities. Below you will find some noteworthy examples, and a complete list of the 2022 department and advisory council accomplishments are linked here:
- The Community Safety Coordination Center worked across all City departments and sister agencies to implement a comprehensive and coordinated approach to community safety and ensure equitable investment in the communities with the highest levels of disinvestment and lack of opportunity.
- The Chicago Police Department identified the top 55 police beats where more than half of the city’s violence occurs and implemented strategic deployments to combat violence in these areas. Since the implementation, homicides have reduced by approximately 30%, and shootings have reduced by approximately 38% in these beats.
- The Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS) Bureau of Forestry, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the Chicago Park District, and the Chicago Departments of Transportation (CDOT) and Public Health (CDPH), exceeded Mayor Lightfoot’s goal of planting 15,000 trees per year for the next five years, starting in 2022. Using an equity- and community-based approach codeveloped with CDPH through Mayor’s Lightfoot’s Our Roots Chicago program, the City planted over 18,000 trees this year.
- The Office of Equity and Racial Justice launched $5M Community Wealth Ecosystem Building grants — Phase 1 of the $15M Community Wealth Building effort, an economic development initiative that promotes the local, democratic, and shared ownership and control of community assets.
- As part of the Chicago Recovery Plan, the City launched the Corridor Ambassador program to encourage economic activity in 12 retail districts across the city by creating a visible, welcoming presence in those neighborhoods through more than 100 local ambassadors.
- The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and the Office of Equity and Racial Justice awarded $5.5M across 48 grants to community artists under the Together We Heal Creative Place Program to support art projects that promote healing and transformation in Chicago’s neighborhoods, with a focus on communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racism.
- The City streamlined its land sale programs with the launch of the online portal Chicago.gov/BlockBuilder, which includes an interactive map of available properties, pricing information, and a digital submission process to foster infill development and open space projects within local neighborhoods.
- The Community Safety Coordination Center (CSCC), in partnership with the Mayor's Office, Chicago Park District, and other City departments, launched Low-Key Kickbacks: Saturday Edition to ensure that youth have access to engaging activities and necessary resources within communities on the South and West sides, hosting a total of seven Saturday events with nearly 850 youth and family members in attendance.
- Chicago Public Schools achieved a record-high four-year graduation rate of 82.9%, a record five-year graduation rate of 84%, and a record scholarship total of more than $1.5B achieved by the CPS Class of 2022. The District also achieved a 2nd-highest-ever Freshman On-Track rate, one of the most accurate indicators of high school graduation, of 88.8%.
- The Chicago Housing Authority celebrated the opening of 396 new rental apartments, including 143 new Project-Based Voucher apartments, and committed to funding another 238 at sites that are currently under construction.
- Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot’s approved FY2023 Budget establishes Chicago’s place among cities that have gained a solid financial foothold. The $16.4B 2023 ‘Stability Budget’ builds on the Mayor’s commitment to make Chicago a safer, stronger, and more economically resilient city by reducing debt, addressing environmental threats, and increasing investments for public safety, essential services, and access to reproductive health.
- There were 159 pro-Chicago decisions in 2022 — 114 corporate expansions, 45 relocations or new market entrants, and 27 investments in the S/W sides — all supporting over 20,000 new jobs for Chicago residents.
- The S&P and Fitch rating agencies both upgraded O’Hare’s bond rating to “A+” in August, the airport’s first bond upgrade since 2016. The City of Chicago issued senior lien, general airport revenue and revenue refunding bonds at that time totaling about $1.77B to fund O’Hare 21 terminal work and other capital expenses.
- City Council approved the first sole casino license for a Chicago casino to Bally’s, which resulted in a $40M payment dedicated to pensions with $2M annually per year thereafter. The Bally's casino will create thousands of jobs and generate approximately $400M a year in gaming and other revenues for the City and the State of Illinois.
- Fitch Ratings (Fitch) upgraded their long-term ratings for the City of Chicago’s General Obligation Bonds (GO) by one notch from “BBB-” to “BBB” with a positive outlook.
- Moody’s Investors Service (Moody’s) upgraded the City of Chicago’s General Obligation (GO) Debt to a Baa3 rating. This upgrade marked the first upgrade the City of Chicago has received from Moody’s in 12 years.
- The City closed one of its lowest budget gaps in the last 16 years, which came as a result of practical financial strategies implemented over the last several years by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and her administration.
- Fitch Ratings announced two additional upgrades for the City of Chicago, one for the City’s water system and one for the sewer system. The long-term ratings for the City of Chicago’s water and sewer systems were raised by one notch each, from “A-” to “A” for the City’s second lien water revenue bonds and “A-” to “A” for the City’s second lien sewer revenue bonds. This was the first time these credits have been upgraded by Fitch in 12 years, which highlights the City’s financial turnaround, as well as the strength of the City’s water and wastewater systems.
- The City’s Minimum Wage rose to $15.40 an hour due to legislation championed by Mayor Lightfoot.
- Chicago underwent the greatest economic growth in three decades. With revenues surpassing pre-pandemic levels, the City of Chicago was able to forego a CPI increase in the 2023 budget while also advancing $242M of pension payments.
- Mayor Lightfoot’s INVEST South/West concluded year three with more than $2.2B in public and private investment commitments within 10 South and West Side community areas.
- The City opened five Public Outdoor Plazas to provide more than 50,000 square feet of beautiful, safe public gathering spaces that will also catalyze further economic development along the adjacent commercial corridors.
- Supported by Mayor Lightfoot’s Chicago Works jobs and infrastructure plan, the Chicago Department of Transportation paved more than 100 miles of residential streets and 55 miles of arterial streets, installed 9,000 ADA accessibility ramps, replaced 2,000 street light poles, refreshed more than 200 miles of pavement markings, and filled more than 470,000 potholes.
- Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot broke ground on Auburn Gresham Apartments, a $43M, City-supported redevelopment of vacant City land in Auburn Gresham with 58 affordable units and ground-floor commercial spaces that are located along a targeted INVEST South/West corridor.
- City Council approved a new Transit Tax Increment Financing district that will provide financial support for the $3.6B extension of the Chicago Transit Authority Red Line from 95th Street to 130th Street on the Far South Side. Planned as one of the most transformative investments in CTA’s history, the Red Line Extension will improve Far South Side connections to jobs, education, and commerce, while also serving as a catalyst for equitable economic development along its length.
- Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, along with federal partners, celebrated $20M in federal grant funding awarded to support the Englewood Nature Trail — a project to convert a 1.75-mile abandoned railway corridor into a grade-separated multiuse path for walking and biking in Englewood. The trail will not only revitalize a railway corridor that has been unused since the 1960s, but also serve as the spine of an urban agriculture district that occupies adjacent land, along with other productive uses. The long-term goals for the trail include connecting the surrounding area with safe and inviting park space and multiuse paths.
- Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot broke ground on Englewood Connect, a $13.9M, City-supported culinary food hub that is restoring Englewood’s landmark Engine Co. 84 firehouse as a commercial kitchen and event space that’s located along a targeted INVEST South/West corridor.
- The Department of Planning and Development selected 166 finalists for more than $120M in Community Development Grants through the Chicago Recovery Plan. Ranging from $12,000 to $7.2M, the grants are helping to complete neighborhood investment projects valued at more than $320M.
- Following the U.S. Supreme Court leak in Dobbs v. Jackson, Mayor Lightfoot announced her Justice for All Pledge, including a $500,000 initial investment from the Chicago Department of Public Health to support transportation; lodging; and safe and necessary reproductive, obstetric, and gynecological care. Chicago Abortion Fund and Planned Parenthood of Illinois were each awarded $250,000 for 2022, with additional dollars allocated in the City's 2023 budget to support this work.
- The Chicago Department of Transportation continued to expand and improve Chicago’s bikeway network, adding nearly 40 miles in 2022 and surpassing 100 miles added since Mayor Lightfoot took office. Chicago has averaged about 40 miles of new bikeway investments per year, compared to an average of 23 miles prior to 2020. This year, CDOT began a new program to upgrade all existing plastic-protected lanes to concrete curbs to provide increased safety for all road users.
- The City launched the Chicago Resilient Communities Pilot, one of the largest monthly cash assistance programs in the nation, supporting 5,000 low-income households with $500 a month for 12 months to provide greater financial stability and support an equitable economic recovery.
- The City launched the Home and Business Protection Program (HBPP) and received more than 5,800 applications for the reimbursement program and more than 2,600 for the income-based program with over $1.3M reimbursement payments already approved to help make it easier to keep our homes and businesses safe.
- The City launched the Emergency Supplemental Victims’ Fund, a pilot program which provides up to $3,500 in immediate financial relief for costs associated with funeral/burial services, relocation, and any general expenses related to gun violence victimizations.
- The City Council approved the City’s Connected Communities Ordinance, an Equitable Transit Oriented Development program to intentionally add affordable housing near public transit.
- The Chicago Department of Public Health expanded its Crisis Response and Engagement Program (CARE) to launch alternate response teams on the Southwest Side, in Gage Park, West Elsdon, West Lawn, Chicago Lawn, and West Englewood. The alternate response team consists of a CFD Community Paramedic and CDPH Mental Health Clinician. To date, the CARE team has responded to over 475 mental health 911 crisis calls.
- The Department of Finance launched the Clear Path Relief Pilot Program, providing low-income motorists the opportunity to reduce or eliminate vehicle-related debt, such as parking, compliance, red light, and speed camera violations.
- The City of Chicago and the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) made a $1.2M dollar investment in increasing disability employment and launched the MOPD Career Center. The Career Center serves people with disabilities in finding jobs and careers — and provides career readiness services, including preparing a resume, practicing interviews, setting goals, and counseling on disclosing disability in the job search process and requesting reasonable accommodations.
- Mayor Lightfoot and First Lady Amy Eshleman launched a state-of-the-art mobile app designed to provide youth, teens, and young adults access to out of school opportunities from City departments and nearly 300 community-based organizations to aggregate 10,000+ programs, events, and jobs.
- Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, with Department of Human Resources (DHR) reached an agreement with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) to expand the City’s paid parental leave policy, effective January 1, 2023. Under the new policy, all City employees will receive up to twelve (12) weeks paid parental leave, regardless of whether they are the birthing or non-birthing parent. With this expansion that will apply to approximately 32,000 employees, the City becomes the one of the largest cities in the Midwest and across the country to have such a progressive and innovative policy.
- Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot announced that Willette Benford will serve as Director of Re-Entry for the City of Chicago, a newly created role that sits at the center of a $13M initiative launched during the 2022 budget process that will transform Chicago into a national leader in supporting returning residents.