Upon its founding in June of 1986, SSAC adopted a mission of reconciliation, dedicated to building an inclusive membership, reaching across all lines of race, religious denominations, social and economic class and geography throughout the South Suburbs. This inclusive outreach has led to the involvement of thousands of leaders from the South Suburban region, culminating is SSAC’s Pentecost Convention on May 19, 1991, where over 4,300 people came together in unity and determination to improve the quality of life in the South Suburbs. This stands as the largest event of its kind ever organized in the Midwest.
Since its founding, SSAC has emerged as perhaps the premier church-based citizens organization in the Midwest, and has contributed many unprecedented and nationally recognized improvements to the quality of life in the Sough Suburbs. All of these achievements are fully consistent with the by-laws and Articles of incorporation of SSAC. All SSAC officers, core team leaders and task force leaders are justifiably proud of these achievements.
A. Full and Fair Access to Real Estate Listings
SSAC successfully challenged the Real Estate Boards of the South Suburbs and the Southwest Suburbs to establish a reciprocal access agreement that allows for real estate listings to be shown to prospective buyers across the full range of the South and Southwest Suburbs. Instead of dividing the region into two large sections on either side of I-57, (the eastern side has traditionally been made up of mixed or primarily African American Communities, while the western side has been primarily white communities).
Led by Amigos Hispanos, a member group of SSAC, SSAC successfully challenged the Prairie State College District to establish an Office of Minority Student Services, which has led to an increase of over 100% in Hispanic and minority student enrollment at Prairie State. Minority access to higher education is a crucial issue not only for minorities, but for the South Suburbs, Illinois, and our nation as a whole. The ability of the United States to compete successfully in the global economy and the ability of the South Suburbs to revitalize its economy, depends upon full access to higher education for all citizens. Amigos Hispanos, supported by SSAC leaders from throughout the organization also successfully challenged the Board and Superintendent of District 170 in Chicago Heights to hire a bilingual principal and staff to work effectively with Hispanic students in that district.
C. Drugs and Public Safety
SSAC in 1991 and 1992 met with top law enforcement officials of Cook County and established a program to attack drug houses. The program involves submission of anonymous drug house reports to the State’s Attorney’s office, with follow-up investigations by the State’s Attorney, and busting of drug houses. This program has been effective in busting drug houses, and remains available with a renewed commitment from State’s Attorney Jack O’Malley, delivered to the SSAC Public Meeting, August 3, 1992. SSAC urges all concerned about drug houses to contact SSAC and capitalize on this crucial opportunity.
D. Health Care
SSAC has succeeded in having three South Suburban Cook County health clinics certified as federally assisted clinics. This means more resources for acute care and expansion of facilities to serve Robbins, Ford Heights and Dixmoor. SSAC also served as a major part of the South Cook County Healthcare Coalition, to open up Oak Forest Hospital as an acute care and obstetrics facility. Finally SSAC successfully negotiated a major agreement with Cook County Department of Public Health, to deliver Wellness on Wheels directly to twenty SSAC churches, saving hundreds of our people hundreds of dollars each, in full medical exams and immunizations.
E. Housing and Economic Development
SSAC has fought long and hard, led by churches in Robbins, and working closely with Mayor Brodie of Robbins to secure an agreement to demolish immediately fifty properties, followed by an additional 200+ demolitions in the near future. All of these properties are urgently in need of demolition, to make way for needed new investment and housing in Robbins. SSAC’s major achievement in the field of Housing and Economic Development is the creation of the
New Cities Community Development Corporation In 1989, SSAC provided New Cities with a mandate to focus on the acquisition and rehabilitation of one thousand vacant properties throughout the South Suburbs, and to employ at least 50% local minority contractors in this effort. SSAC also provided initial start-up funds and initial staff leadership (as Bill Goldsmith moved from SSAC to become Executive Director of New Cities). SSAC continues to invest leadership (as New Cities Board members are elected from SSAC churches b y the SSAC Coordinating Committee), and grass roots political support for New Cities’ initiatives. Thus, at the SSAC Pentecost Convention, Jack Kemp, Secretary of HUD, delivered the HUD Single Family Demonstration Program which allows New Cities and other groups to acquire HUD
properties at a substantial discount, to rehabilitate them for new low and moderate income homeowners.
This and other New Cities programs have already led to the acquisition of Over 200 vacant homes to be rehabbed and occupied by new homeowners under New Cities’ innovative Homebuyers’ Education Program. Many other products and initiatives are being generated by New Cities, including Senior Citizen Housing in Riverdale, and a new owner-occupied rehab program. New Cities, with SSA’s full support has continued to deliver on its mandate to employ at least 50% minority contractors. Over 300 projects jobs have been created by New Cities, and 30 contracting businesses are participating in SSAC/New Cities Minority Contractors’ Incubator Program. Two major HUD grants have recently been awarded to New Cities for the Senior Citizen Project and a HOPE III grant for acquisition, and rehabilitation of government owned vacant properties. These achievements have already brought New Cities recognition as among the premier CDC’s in America.
F. Community Investment
SSAC leaders have forged unprecedented partnerships with over 15 local businesses and
financial institutions that have already generated over $10,000,000 worth of investment in New Cities products, improving the housing stock of the South Suburbs and generating tremendous homeownership opportunities, redressing previous injustices that have kept too many families from becoming homeowners. The SSAC Corporate Accountability Task Force, and the business and financial leaders that have worked so hard to create these partnerships, are extremely proud of their mutual efforts, and dedicated to making the Business Advisory Committee of financial leaders a vital part of our mission in coming years.