By Luther Mason, member of St. Mark United Methodist Church and board member of SOUL (first posted on IIRON)
I’m a member of St. Mark United Methodist Church and a resident of Chatham. I’ve worked in the field of home weatherization for the past 15 years. Weatherization is the process of making buildings more energy efficient by adding insulation, sealing cracks in the walls, windows, doors, etc., and upgrading or replacing inefficient heating and air conditioning systems. This decreases people’s energy bills, helps reduce our communities’ environmental impact, and creates jobs for people to do that work.
I believe in this work and I want to teach younger workers how to do weatherization as well. But I’ve been unemployed or underemployed for most of the last three years because the State of Illinois has under-funded the Urban Weatherization Initiative (UWI). SOUL worked with the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus to create the UWI in 2009 as part of the state capital bill. The UWI is supposed to provide $425 million to create jobs and weatherize homes in low-income communities, but only $12 million has been allocated since the capital bill took effect in 2010.
Meanwhile, unemployment is at crisis levels, especially in the African American community. This has a clear connection to the violence devastating the South Side because too many people don’t see any hope for a real future. Governor Quinn has the power to decrease unemployment by creating weatherization jobs. It’s time for him to keep his promise!
Please join us on Sunday as we get on a bus and go to wherever the Governor is going to be to make sure he gets the message. We’re meeting at 2:30 p.m. at Sixth Grace Presbyterian Church (600 E. 35th St.) and A Just Harvest (7649 N. Paulina). Buses will leave at 3:00 p.m. sharp! Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org feel free to call (312) 402-0572 if you have any questions.