Good morning, Chicago.
As summers become longer and hotter due to climate change, air conditioning can potentially make the difference between life and death. Yet cooling isn’t always easy to obtain or afford. Around 157,000 Illinois households lack air conditioning, according to the most recent American Housing Survey, collected in 2019.
The good news: States have a means to chip away at the number of residents going without AC. The Biden administration has encouraged states to expand their federally-funded Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program – traditionally focused on heating – to allow for the purchase of air conditioners and bill assistance during summer. Washington State heeded that advice and has since distributed more than 2,000 air conditioners to residents, free of charge, an official told the Tribune.
Illinois’ program remains closed, June-August, however. And while the City of Chicago recently made waves for amending its heating and cooling ordinance, local laws that prevent tenants from freezing at home in winter still don’t do the same to prevent heat stress at home in summer.
We talked with residents around the city in recent weeks, at cooling centers, outside buildings where heat waves have claimed Chicagoans’ lives and in their homes, from Uptown to Washington Park. I hope you’ll check out their thoughts on solutions and be in touch with yours, on what it’ll take to ensure all Chicagoans can stay safe from extreme heat.
– Sarah Macaraeg
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Despite the urging of the state’s health department to resume school-based COVID-19 testing for students this fall, officials at several Illinois districts said this week they are halting the program due to waning interest from parents and the availability of home tests.
“We’ve decided not to offer SHIELD testing as we start the new school year, but we’re always cautious, and will be ready to pivot back to that partnership if things change,” said Mary Gorr, superintendent of Mount Prospect School District 57.
A group of law enforcement officials and experts from around Illinois and across the country gathered in mid-June to begin crafting a plan to increase awareness among the general public and fellow cops of a three-year-old state law aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous people.
About midway through the agenda, Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly posed a direct question to the nearly two dozen in attendance, according to minutes of the meeting: “Why are (firearms restraining orders) not being used?”
A group of Northwestern students participating in a summer work program are alleging that they are underpaid and overworked and are circulating a petition demanding changes from the university.
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The university’s conference assistant program employs 20 mostly low-income students of color, the students said. It supports the university’s summertime events, including conferences and high school programs. In exchange for working approximately 20 hours a week, the assistants receive free housing, dining hall access and a stipend of $1,650.
It was set up to be a routine moment Saturday morning, a quick screen from Justin Fields to N’Keal Harry on the first play of a live tackling period at Chicago Bears training camp.
But after Harry caught Fields’ pass and headed upfield, linebacker Nicholas Morrow hit the receiver low, with Harry’s left leg bending and buckling.
Harry was in instant agony. He couldn’t get back to his feet on his own or put even an ounce of weight on his left leg as he was helped back inside Halas Hall.
You can bet Fields’ stomach dropped. As did offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s.
Mel’s Craft BBQ in Park Ridge is Mel Thillens’ first restaurant, and his passion for barbecue started decades ago. “I like to throw big parties,” Thillens said. “The first time I tried to make barbecue 20 years ago, I threw a couple of pork butts in a friend’s smoker so I could feed 100 people. I can’t say it was the best pulled pork, but it inspired me to keep going.”
Over the years, he kept honing his craft, continued to host huge parties and eventually picked up some catering business.
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