Andrew Mooney, Chicago Commissioner of the Department of Housing and Economic Development, spoke at JCUA‘s 2011 Rabbi J. Marx Social Justice Awards Dinner. Below is a copy of his powerful speech about the importance of affordable housing and people like the dinner’s honorees, Ralph Brown, Roberta Nechin and David Midgley.
Thank you and good evening, thank you Rami. I am honored to be here. When Nikki Stein asked me if I’d make these presentations tonight, I responded immediately. Not only are tonight’s awardees long time champions of social justice, they are dear friends and colleagues, who have had an enormous impact on the things I care about most in this great city.
Ralph, David and Roberta all share the values that are the hallmark of JCUA. They have dedicated their lives and careers to actualizing justice in the form of affordable housing in livable neighborhoods. They have made clear what most of us know instinctively, that to live the good life we have to have certain fundamentals, and that in our society we have both the democratic imperative and the financial resources to do so if we so choose. Ralph, David and Roberta chose to do so and their recognition tonight is richly deserved.
Yet there is a bitter irony that we are honoring these three in the midst of these remarkable financial times. Like many of us they began their work several decades ago when both private and public institutions red-lined urban neighborhoods, which consequently destroyed the value of those neighborhoods, leaving them with few resources other than the people themselves. I fear that the same has happened again.