Skip to main content

Friend of the Neighborhoods: Mayor Richard M. Daley

If people are to be judged by their actions, then there is little question about the dedication of this year’s Friend of the Neighborhoods, Mayor Richard M. Daley. Even more, the sheer “gumption” of his initiatives, some of which are at a scale no other American mayor will attempt, and some that come at great potential personal cost, bespeak the ambition this Mayor carries for his beloved city neighborhoods.

The Mayor would point foremost to his decision to assume responsibility for the Chicago Public Schools. For him, it’s simple: you can’t have a healthy neighborhood without a good school, and that has remained his vision and drive ever since. Yet surrounding this hallmark commitment is a galaxy of initiatives intended to promote the development of all city neighborhoods, leaving no community behind.

Start with housing: the Mayor played a key role in Congress’ support for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, the only significant federal production program still in existence. He just won City Council approval for the third of his five-year housing plans, a $1.6 billion effort to promote sound and affordable housing throughout the city. The Historic Chicago Bungalow Initiative, the transformation of CHA, TIF/NIP, a commitment to end homelessness: the list goes on.

As do companion efforts. The Mayor initiated the nation’s first community policing program. He has seen to the overhaul of the parks, improved the libraries, found funding to rebuild parts of the ‘el’, and supports local commercial development and employment programs, all of which gives new meaning to the word “activism.”

In view of this remarkable record of personal leadership and accomplishment, and on this, the tenth anniversary of the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards, it is fitting indeed to recognize Mayor Richard M. Daley with this year’s Friend of the Neighborhoods Award.