Chicago Resident Service Fair

I attended the Chicago Resident Service Fair held at Wilbur Wright College on Saturday, April 2. City workers who staffed the Fair were knowledgeable and helpful, ready to provide answers and explain the many services provided by individual City departments. Several workshops were offered on the City’s new Home Buyer Assistance Program as well as on starting businesses, finding a job, and mortgages and taxes for homeowners.

The next time I find myself wondering where my tax dollars go, I’ll remember useful services like these:

  • The Active Transportation Alliance of the Chicago Department of Transportation produces a terrific booklet for kids and parents, “Kids on Bikes in Chicago.” It provides simple, well-illustrated rules for kids to follow to keep themselves safe while biking and includes a section for parents and teachers on making sure bikes are safe for kids to ride and what to look for in a biking helmet.—all in 10 pages.

Booklets for adult and teen riders are also available. Contact the Chicago Department of Transportation, 312/741-BIKE or

  • The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) sponsors the Kids & Kites Festival on Saturday, May 7, from 10 a.m. til 4 p.m. at Montrose Harbor – Cricket Hill in Lincoln Park. In addition to free paper kites, kids will be treated to face painting, balloons, and crafts.

See for more information.

  • The Department of Planning and Development manages a program that provides home repairs for seniors. Small Accessible Repairs for Seniors (SARFS) can install carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, grab bars, level faucets, and wheelchair ramps as well as handle other minor repairs that make life easier and safer for older residents. Seniors must be at least 60 years old and meet income requirements (i.e., not earn more than 80% of area medians).

Contact the Department of Planning and Development, 312/744-3653 for more information

  • The City of Chicago Small Business Center hosts service expos for job applicants throughout the City, including workshops, exhibits, legal and tax clinics, sales pitch training, advice from City business consultants and financial advisers, free professional headshots and mini-makeovers as well as document shredding. Food Trucks from another City program are also on site.
  • Called “On the Road” expos, the next event is scheduled for Saturday, April 30, from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. at the Arturo Velasquez Institute, 2800 South Western Avenue.  Upcoming expos will take place on June 25 at the South Shore Cultural Center; September 10 at the Columbus Park Refectory; and October 29 at the Copernicus Center.

Register online for any of these events at

  • Food Truck Festivals are held weekly from 11:00 a.m. til 3:00 p.m. at Daley Plaza and monthly at Willis Tower. These events feature food prepared by various entrepreneurs throughout the City, and are designed to help build participants’ businesses as well as provide delicious lunches. The program is always open to new vendors.

If you’d like your food truck business to be included in future events, call 312/74GOBIZ or visit the Web site for a free guide to starting your own Food Truck Festival (

  • The Department of Administrative Hearings is where you end up when you are protesting tickets for all kinds of alleged infractions—everything from building code violations to vehicle citations that leave your vehicle booted. Sandra E. Heidt, Assistant Manager of Administrative Adjudication, and her staff will patiently walk you through the workings of their Department. She’s the soul of tact, a necessary skill when dealing with flustered and frustrated citizens.

If you feel you’ve been unfairly cited and need to know how to navigate the process, contact Ms. Heidt and her staff at 312-742-8217 for straightforward advice, gently administered.

  • Chicago Public Schools sponsors the Parent University at various sites around the City. This innovative program offers online classes for parents and grandparents to help them develop the skills necessary to ensure their children and grandchildren do well in school as well as to gain knowledge and develop job skills themselves. Classes include writing, math, financial literacy, and business.
  • One aspect of the program is Virtual Academy, 8-week classes in reading and writing strategies, creative writing, business and marketing, and financial literacy. Classes are currently limited to 20 students per site.
  • A hands-on class in digital video production is designed to teach parents and community members the basics of video production, including use of portable videocams, sound, and lighting.
  • Parent University recently introduced an IT training program that will give participants entry-level technology skills.
  • Far North Side sites for future classes are currently being evaluated.

Contact for more information.

There will be three more Resident Service Fairs this Spring. All will take place on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. til 2:00 p.m.. Go if you can. You’ll learn a lot about what Chicago has to offer its residents, and meet some of the people who make it happen.

Here’s the schedule:
April 9, Richard J. Daley College, 7500 South Pulaski Road
April 16, Arturo Velasquez Institute, 2800 South Western Avenue
May 7, Simeon Career Academy, 8147 South Vincennes Avenue

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