A group of black contractors in Chicago said they are tired of losing out on jobs in their own communities, especially to larger companies.
So as the Chicago Housing Authority opens a bidding process for a project that includes the renovation of a public housing community on the city’s south side, community members, organizations and black contractors are demanding that one company be excluded from the bid.
The city’s largest general contracting and construction firm, according to Crain’s Chicago Business, is Walsh Construction Company. Some Black contractors said Walsh always seems to get awarded projects, while the minority businesses are left on the sidelines. There have also been discrimination suits against the company in the past. The midwest-based company has regional offices across the country, operating by using Union Labor and Union Subcontractors.
No company representative returned the Chicago Defender’s messages and emails by deadline.
According to Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, Public Housing Agencies like CHA and their contractors must do their best to award contracts to businesses that will provide jobs for low income individuals.
The HUD act also requires that those agencies and their contractors offer training and employment opportunities generated by any public housing development, operating subsidies and modernization assistance.
But some believe that until this is enforced as federal law, nothing will change. “Black contractors and workers have lost out on nearly $160 million in contracting opportunities and over 15,000 construction related jobs in the last five years due to CHA and other recipients of HUD funding not enforcing this important federal law,” Arness Dancy, Chicago Black Chamber of Commerce president told Chicago Defender.
The protesters plan to march every day until they get a response from CHA.
Kudos to these contractors for standing up for their rights and demanding equality.
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