CHICAGO | University of Chicago public policy students will lend their time and expertise to help what former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley called the “forgotten” city of Gary.
“In the last 40 to 50 years, Gary has been forgotten,” Daley said in a Tuesday afternoon news conference with Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. “America is better than that. No one should be forgotten.”
Freeman-Wilson and Daley announced Tuesday a partnership between Gary and the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago's International House. Daley is a distinguished senior fellow of the Harris School.
The partnership is a practicum course where students sign up to help Gary come up with solutions and proposals in four main areas — abandoned houses, urban revitalization, transportation and budget, said Urban Policy Initiative Director Christopher Berry.
He said it's hoped 15 to 20 students will take the class, but the full number won't be known until registration ends next week.
University of Chicago student Mike Reddy, 24, worked with Gary in an early version of the partnership starting in January. His group looked at abandoned homes. Gary has more than 3,000 abandoned homes it knows of, sites that can become a breeding ground for crime.
“Going there, it's completely different than everything I've heard growing up,” he said.
Freeman-Wilson said the students' previous work on issues from filling potholes to cleaning dump sites to encouraging a new GIS initiative might seem “mundane to some,” but are vital for managing city services.
“We are excited about the work of the students that has occurred already, and we are looking with great anticipation not only to the work of the students but the solutions that will come,” she said.