On September 20, 2021 Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled her $16.7 billion budget for the City of Chicago. In the months leading up to the release of the budget, the City conducted a community engagement process and obtained the assistance of UIC’s Neighborhoods Initiative (UICNI) at the Great Cities Institute to design and facilitate internal and external engagement activities. The “2022 Budget Community Engagement Report” documents the 2022 Budget Engagement process and provides key findings from the internal and external engagement. The 2022 Budget Community Engagement process was the earliest and most multi-faceted engagement process ever conducted for the City’s budget.
The engagement process had two phases: an information gathering phase and a ground truthing phase.
The first phase garnered community input for the draft city department budgets, which were due in July. In addition, feedback in phase one was used by the City to develop a list of draft budget investment initiatives called Responsive Initiatives. These were then used to frame the second phase of engagement, including the gathering of additional community feedback. The first phase of the 2022 Budget Engagement process took place from June 4, 2021 through July 1, 2021 and included:
- Four internal focus groups with City of Chicago Commissioners
- Four meetings with City-Wide Leaders
- Six Regional Roundtables with community and neighborhood-based organizations
The second phase took the synthesized community input and created the Responsive Initiatives for reaction by subject matter focus groups and general public. The second phase of the 2022 Budget Engagement took place from July 27, 2021 through August 12, 2021 and included:
- Three Subject Matter focus groups
- Three Public Budget Forums
Detailed descriptions of each engagement activity are documented including dates of the meetings, participants, purpose of the meeting, and an overview of the facilitation plan.
The report includes a summary of investment ideas and feedback on needed programs and services and policy suggestions across all community engagement activities. Detailed results from each engagement activity are also provided in the appendix.
The top three programs and services that participants suggested across all engagement activities include:
- Increasing access to mental health and behavioral health,
- Enhancing youth employment and afterschool programs, and
- Increasing the amount of affordable housing available throughout the city.
The community engagement results were used by the City to inform 2022 budget decision making. The decision-making process included finalizing the Responsive Initiatives and tying them directly to budget investments. The Responsive Initiatives, which are budget investment needs such as “provide more youth wrap around services,” were finalized based upon community engagement results. The City released Final Responsive Initiatives Report that lists the final Responsive Initiatives alongside the corresponding responsible City Department and 2022 Budget and/or Chicago Recovery Plan (American Rescue Plan funding plan) specific initiative, program, or service that addresses each item.