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"Environmental justice" involves ensuring that the benefits and burdens of regional Transportation decisions are shared by all socioeconomic groups, specifically including low-income and minority populations. Federal requirements and guidance governing environmental justice in the Transportation area are available online.

The federal government defines "low-income" to mean households at or below poverty level, and "minority" to include African-American, Latino, Asian, Native American, or Pacific Islander individuals. Currently, approximately 42% of the region's population is made up of these racial and ethnic groups, and 10% of the region's population is below the poverty level in terms of income. Areas within the region that have greater concentrations of minority or impoverished residents are shown in this map; these are termed "environmental justice areas" through the rest of this page. To evaluate environmental justice, the effect of the alternative scenarios on these highlighted areas was evaluated in a number of ways.

Household and job growth

Between now and 2040, the environmental justice areas are forecast to grow by approximately 456,000 households and jobs, a growth rate of 22%. This is below the overall regional growth rate. Increasing household and job growth in areas with concentrations of minority or low-income populations can increase economic opportunity for residents of these areas. However, this also must be paired with strategies to prevent this growth from displacing current residents.

The impacts of each scenario on environmental justice areas are described below, estimating the number of additional households and jobs that will locate in environmental justice areas compared to the current trend (with an increase considered to be an improvement). The base figure is 456,000 households and jobs.

Change from the current trends

Reinvest

Improves greatly

Preserve

Improves slightly

Innovate

Stays the same

Change in growth

Reinvest

+49% (221,000 more households and jobs)

Preserve

+4% (28,000 more households and jobs)

Innovate

No change

What strategies in this scenario caused this change?

Reinvest

Transportation improvements, a major emphasis on transit oriented development (TOD), and brownfield remediation spurred growth in existing communities.

Preserve

Improvements to the transit, bicycle, and pedestrian systems, as well as a modest implementation of transit oriented development (TOD) attracted more people to already developed communities.

Innovate

This scenario did not change the location of growth compared to the reference.

Jobs-housing access

Access to jobs from environmental justice areas is also an important indicator, as it helps to describe the employment options available to residents of these areas. Regional jobs-housing access is also a stand-alone outcome; more definition of the concept is available on its outcome page.

Currently, residents of environmental justice areas have better job access (as this analysis defines it) than the regional average, mostly because of their proximity to transit and location near downtown Chicago.

Change from current trends

Reinvest

Improves greatly

Preserve

Improves slightly

Innovate

Mixed results**

Change in growth

Reinvest

+50% (auto); +41% (transit)

Preserve

+4% (auto); +25% (transit)

Innovate

-10% (auto); +31% (transit)

What strategies in this scenario caused this change?

Reinvest

Significant investment in arterial improvements in congested areas and transit capital facilities sped travel for both modes.

Preserve

Transit service extensions to currently unserved areas and other transit operational improvements were applied; limited auto improvements were made.

Innovate

This scenario applied technology and pricing transportation strategies including congestion pricing and variable pricing for parking. This led to favorable outcomes for drivers who were willing to pay for faster travel, but slower travel for those who were not willing to pay. The residents of environmental justice areas were assumed to primarily fall into the second category, which led to the declines in auto access shown for this scenario.

**Results are subject to interpretation. See notes and jobs-housing access outcome for more discussion.

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