Green Jobs - Saving the Planet and Southside Jobs

Unemployment and underemployment are some of the biggest problems on the South Side. At the same time, Chicago is trying to be the greenest city in the country, but huge numbers of the houses and apartment buildings (especially in low-income areas) have old boilers, inadequate insulation, and air leakage, which leads to high energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions. Green jobs in home weatherization are a solution to both problems – the government can pay people to install energy-saving improvements such as new heating systems, better insulation, and sealing air leaks. People get jobs, energy bills go down, and we create a more sustainable city.
In response, SOUL began a campaign to get the State of Illinois to create a “green jobs” program that would hire people to do home weatherization in low-income urban areas across the state. Working with South Side and South Suburban state legislators, SOUL created a program called the Urban Weatherization Initiative which was passed in July 2009 as part of the state capital bill. The program has three main elements:
  • Provides $425 million for people in urban areas with 20% of the population living in poverty to have their homes weatherized at no cost to the homeowner or landlord
  • Requires that organizations and contractors doing this weatherization hire people from the communities in which the weatherization is taking place
  • Provides funding for weatherization training so that people without experience in weatherization can learn the trade and get hired
SOUL estimates that the Urban Weatherization initiative will create 20,000 – 40,000 jobs over the next six years and significantly decrease the state's contribution to climate change.
This program has been passed into law, and now the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is deciding how exactly the program is going to work. SOUL is working to create partnerships with contractors, nonprofit organizations, unions, training providers, and people who want to get jobs in weatherization, so that together we can make sure that the Urban Weatherization Initiative is successful in getting living-wage jobs for people for the South Side.

For more information or to get involved, contact SOUL at 773.363.0199

People with some construction skills are particularly encouraged to call!