Valerie F.

Leonard for 24th Ward Alderman
Hands-On Experience, A Heart for the People
Born and raised in North Lawndale Worked with the Lawndale Alliance to persuade the City to revise the $100 million Ogden Pulaski TIF Redevelopment Plan and reduce the number of housing units potentially displaced from 317 to 24. Nearly 1,200 residents were impacted. Assisted Carey Tercentenary AME Church to secure a $30,000 challenge grant to build an elevator for seniors /people with disabilities. Worked with the Illinois ResourceNet to provide technical assistance on the development of a $7 million federal proposal to provide internet access and technology training for 23 publicly funded senior housing developments in Northern Illinois, including North Lawndale’s own Sankofa House and Elois McCoy Village Apartments. Networked with activists around Chicago to urge the City to hold a public hearing giving an accounting for $153 million in HUD Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds. At the time, the City had only made 2 investments in North Lawndale, and none in West Garfield Park.

Wrote the Needs Assessment for a $5 million HUD Section 202 proposal for the construction of the Enola Dew Apartments sponsored by Habilitative Systems Inc. The proposal was funded, and the housing complex is expected to be completed in 2011. Took the City to task regarding plans to demolish the Collins High School gym to build an Olympic Velodrome 3 years after the City and CPS committed $30 million from the Midwest TIF to renovate the school. Assisted the Chief Financial Officer of Mount Sinai Hospital in coordinating a $107.5 million HUD financing to renovate the Emergency Room, Obstetrics Unit and Outpatient clinics at Mount Sinai, and expand the Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital. This allowed the Hospitals to better serve low income patients, many of whom had no insurance. Spearheaded the development of the African Garden and Target Block Program in her role as Founding Executive Director of North Lawndale Small Grants Human Development Corporation. Worked with former Alderman Chandler, the Small Grants board, residents of the 1200 Block of Central Park and the 3500 Block of 12th Place to bring more than $250,000 in improvements. Provided oral and written testimony at a number of public hearings at the State and City levels. Valerie’s testimony at a hearing on the State’s Capital Budget urged State Representatives to create an African American Employment Plan. The Plan is now law. Participated on the North Lawndale Employment Network’s Community Advocacy Team, which advocated for community based alternatives to incarceration for adults and youth. Worked for New York City to develop marketing strategies for the City’s $6 billion general obligation bond program during a time of recession and high unemployment.