Mike Simmons HeadshotCHICAGO — Two hundred residents, mostly from the Rogers Park and West Ridge neighborhoods, received COVID-19 vaccines today at events organized by State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago), in partnership with the Howard Brown Health Center, the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago, and ONE Northside. 

Simmons worked with the organizations to set up the events and reach out to residents of the 60626 and 60659 ZIP codes and adjacent communities after reports he requested from the Illinois Department of Public Health showed that infections still remain high and vaccination rates low in those communities, mirroring broader inequities in the health system.

“We’re talking about communities with immigrants, non-primary English speakers, and those living without reliable access to quality health care here in the 7th Senate District,” Simmons said. “Those circumstances present huge barriers to vaccine access, and if we’re to overcome them we have to proactively reach out and facilitate access. Many of our residents have language, transportation, and economic barriers to accessing the vaccine.”

The vaccine appointments were booked with the help of the Ethiopian Community Association, Howard Brown Health Center and ONE Northside, working in coordination with Simmons’ office. Many vaccine recipients are members of Chicago’s Ethiopian community, immigrants and asylees, and other low-income residents who face systemic barriers in accessing the vaccine. 

“Many of our low-income members, particularly people of color and people with lower access to technology, have struggled to access the vaccine. We are grateful to Sen. Simmons and Howard Brown for making this opportunity available to our community and to provide access to this life-saving vaccine to those left behind by our healthcare system,” said Jennifer Ritter, Executive Director of ONE Northside. “We will continue to organize for equitable outcomes from our healthcare system and build a society where everyone can thrive.”

Aklilu Adeye, Executive Director of the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago said the Ethiopian community in particular faces challenges in navigating the process of getting vaccinated.

“Most of our refugee and immigrant community members have the double challenge of vaccine hesitancy as well as obtaining access to the vaccines,” Adeye said. “The availability of the vaccines we are receiving now provides access to families but also the opportunity to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services and explanations for any concerns they may have. We truly appreciate this effort and thankful for all parties who made this possible.”

Residents received shots this morning at The Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago,

5800 N. Lincoln Ave., with more vaccinations administered this afternoon at Howard Brown Health Center, 6500 N. Clark St., in partnership with ONE Northside.

“We cannot overcome COVID-19 if we leave communities like these behind. The gross and totally unacceptable inequities in health care access and outcomes we already were seeing before the pandemic will only get worse if we aren’t proactive in getting our most vulnerable residents on the far north side access to this vaccine,” Simmons said.

Category: Press Releases

2021 04 07 WilsonYardPresserCHICAGO – State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago), joined by advocates from Voices for Illinois Children, SEIU Healthcare and Start Early, as well as members of the community, spoke out about his legislation creating a new $600-per-child state income tax credit to help working families make ends meet at a Wednesday press conference.

“As we reinvest in our communities following the pandemic, we must make sure working families are included,” Simmons said. “This pandemic has wrought devastation on families of color and children living in poverty in particular, and too often, they’re left out of the conversation.”

Simmons’ plan would provide a $600-per-child income tax credit for single parents making less than $40,000 per year and two-parent households that make less than $60,000. It would gradually phase out for parents at higher income levels.

“How is it not a crisis when one-third of all Illinois children are below 200% of the federal poverty level and two-thirds of African-American children are below that level?” said Voices Executive Director Tasha Green Cruzat. “These are children facing health, housing, and nutritional issues. The pandemic has only made the situation worse, and we need to make the long-term commitment and investments to pull these children and their families out of poverty.”

According to Voices’ research, 976,000 Illinois children – or 35% – fall below 200% of the federal poverty level. The statistics are even worse for Black and Latinx families. In 2019, 67% of Black children under age 6 were in extreme poverty, as were 56% of Latinx children in that age range.

“I see a child tax credit as a much-needed resource for parents who have been navigating unprecedented difficulties this past year at home, at work, and in keeping their children safe,” said Faith Arnold of SEIU Healthcare. “They deserve a form of relief that helps them in their pocketbooks.”

The proposed legislation would have a strong impact on essential and hospitality workers. Statistically, women and people of color hold a disproportionate number of essential jobs, and one out of every three hospitality workers in Illinois have lost their jobs over the past year.

“Even though we’ve had struggles this year, my family is fortunate to be able to make ends meet,” said Janet Soto, 35, a resident of Uptown. “So many others aren’t. Families need help right now.”

Simmons’ legislation, Senate Bill 2132, has been assigned to the Senate Revenue Committee, where it awaits a hearing.

Category: Press Releases

“We need to push for an economy that roots out structural racism.”

Mike Simmons HeadshotState Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) applauded the signing of a major economic reforms package Tuesday, the culmination of years of work on the part of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and advocates to address structural racism in Illinois’ financial systems.

Among the reforms, Simmons said legislation capping payday loan rates at 36% and empowering employees to bring human rights complaints against their employers in particular are welcome changes that will help working people in the 7th Illinois Senate District.

“We need to push for an economy that roots out structural racism,” Simmons said. “These reforms should be a start to creating a path to an economy removed of some of the worst and most obvious forms of abuse.”

The wide-ranging economic reform package also included measures expanding the Illinois Equal Pay Act to hold employers of companies with more than 100 employees more accountable for how they pay their workers, as well as incentives to banks for providing lending and banking services to economically disadvantaged communities through the Illinois Community Reinvestment Act.

Category: Press Releases

Mike Simmons HeadshotYesterday, Gov. Pritzker signed a comprehensive criminal justice and police reform package of bills that dramatically overhauls the carceral systems in Illinois. Many of these changes are long overdue, and I am gratified to see the work of so many advocates finally come to fruition.

Some key components of this wide-ranging legislation:

The new law does away with racist mandatory minimum sentencing laws that for over a generation have laid waste to Black communities.

Illinois will end the use of cash bail, a systemic practice that unfairly punishes people who don’t have money.

The law requires police to be equipped with body cameras by 2025. There must be no more excuses about broken body cams, or cams that were not turned on when a situation ends in another killing or unnecessary maiming of another one of our brothers and sisters.

And importantly, the law promotes the use of co-responder models (instead of police) for people experiencing crises, and enhances data collection on mental health crisis response.

The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, of which I am proud to be a member, led this monumental effort. Dozens of community leaders and stakeholders spoke up and turned out as part of the Black Lives Agenda created in the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many others. This legislative victory would not have been possible without their voices raised together, and years of community organizing.

I’m proud to join the Illinois General Assembly at this time, and ready to double down on this work. We must push policy further in the direction of justice for Black lives across the board and root out systemic racism.

This is the work. #BlackLivesMatter

 

simmons sig

Mike Simmons
State Senator, 7th Illinois Senate District

Category: News

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