By the time Daniel Solis was appointed to be alderman of the 25th Ward in 1996, he had a long track record in developing the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) during the 1980’s through protests demanding city services. Having stayed an arms length from Harold Washington, Solis had a close relationship with Mayor Richard M. Daley and would eventually join his kitchen table cabinet for reelection. A reliable rubber stamp voter for Mayor Daley’s legacy, Solis had long argued alliances with powerful politicians was how he could best influence public and corporate policy for his community. Pilsen Alliance was founded in 1998 in large part to bring to light and advocate for the social justice shortcomings such leadership creates.
After over 20 years, Pilsen is a much safer neighborhood for far fewer of its original residents. Over 10,000 Latinx families have left Pilsen due to many factors including gentrification and displacement. Rising rents and property taxes have been rapidly forcing out long-time residents and small businesses in our community with no relief in sight. Over 5,000 people have been evicted from their homes and our community has lost over 1,000 children.
As a result, many of our neighborhood schools are half empty, we see small businesses boarded up on 18th Street and being replaced by high-end gentrifying businesses that do not cater to the needs of the community Solis sought to advocate for through UNO; families whose median income still hovers around $32,126 annually. In rubber stamping a new mayor’s agenda, we feel the connection to families like these were lost and that galvanized our efforts for housing justice.
Roughly 75% of the 25th ward supports Lifting the Ban on Rent Control that in addition to property tax reform, will help ease the burden on renters, small businesses and homeowners alike. Roughly 73% of voters in key precincts of Pilsen also favor dismantling Alderman Solis’ hand-picked Pilsen Land Use Committee (PLUC) which oversee major developments in Pilsen and has failed to uphold its own 21% affordable housing mandate and refuses to open its meetings to the community. We strongly support a community-driven zoning process that allows residents to have a say in the development of the community.
We also support an elected school board which will ensure that our neighborhood schools receive the resources and educational leadership they deserve. We oppose further cuts to our classrooms and demand equitable staff and support. Also, we support fully empowered Local School Councils to lead our neighborhood schools. Democracy works when we stand together as parents, teachers, youth and community members.
As we turn the page in the future of the Pilsen community, we will hold our values and principles steadfast, and will continue to organize and build community power! We will continue to work with tenants, homeowners, artists, small businesses, labor unions and all those who serve our community with the best of intentions. We will move forward with optimism and hope that Pilsen will continue to be home to working-class families, businesses, artists and anyone who seeks a place in our community. We appreciate all the support we have received and we encourage everyone to continue fighting with us for social justice! Si se puede!
In solidarity for a revolution,