The Cabrini kids

Families still living in the area after the high-rises were demolished struggle to find child care centers that accept government vouchers.

Small business grants head north

The news: As unemployment rises, politicians from all levels of government are trying to create incentives for small-business owners. Behind the news: Chicago’s effort to help small businesses improve may be helping established businesses in prosperous areas, rather than struggling entrepreneurs.Small Business Improvement Fund grants give up to $150,000 to small companies across the city to help with physical improvements to their businesses. But a Chicago Reporter analysis showed that the largest chunk of funding in the past 10 years went to businesses on the city’s North Side. Thirty-seven percent of all the money went to the North Side, with the Northwest Side taking another 15 percent. In comparison, the South and Southwest sides of Chicago got only 12 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

Credit check

A new program helps clients learn to manage their money and build or restore their credit, while putting some extra cash in their pockets.

Empty jackpot

Illinois celebrates its program to steer state contracts to businesses owned by minorities, women and people with a disability. But a closer look shows the state may not be fulfilling its goals.

Unlucky 13

An increasing number of people are turning to bankruptcy for a fresh start, but many are leaving themselves susceptible to more debt by opting for a Chapter 13 protection, which has a high failure rate.

White candidates can count on white votes

The news: A Chicago Tribune/WGN poll showed Rahm Emanuel as the front runner in the race to be the city’s next mayor, with a wide lead among white voters. Behind the news: Gathered around the table at Carter’s Barbershop in North Lawndale, The Chicago Reporter’s staff fiercely debated on its weekly radio show whether there’s such a thing as a consensus candidate for mayor for Chicago’s black and Latino communities. Listeners chimed in on Twitter. But one particular comment made everyone laugh. It came from the Reporter’s Twitter follower @anybodybutrahm: “Rahm, Daley & The Machine effectively made Rahm the white –˜consensus candidate.’

New meaning to “empty nest”

The news: Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart ended his monthlong moratorium on mortgage foreclosure evictions after pressure to enforce judges’ orders. Behind the news: The rate of empty homes and apartments in the Chicago metro area is more than double that of New York and Los Angeles, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Postal Service, which The Chicago Reporter analyzed. Chicago has the sixth-highest vacancy rate of 29 large U.S. metro areas.In metro Chicago, 4.2 percent of homes and apartments were empty compared with 1.6 percent in Los Angeles and 1.7 percent in New York as of September. In fact, Chicago’s vacancy rate was just slightly lower than that of Miami, one of the cities hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis. HUD research analyst Robert Renner says many factors are to blame.