The Region: Where it is, Who it is
At Lake Michigan’s southern tip, the communities of Gary, Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago (collectively known as “the Region”) are home to approximately 187,000 people, an enormous concentration of heavy industry, and a host of environmental problems.
The Region has around 1,000 inventoried environmental concerns, including dozens of hazardous waste sites and hundreds of underground storage tanks.
The Region’s air quality also ranks among the nation’s worst. Poor air quality has a host of documented adverse effects on children and teenagers, and aggravates the difficulties that many of the Region’s young people face in becoming productive members of society.
These environmental issues thus compound the multitude of social and economic problems faced by the residents of these majority-minority cities, each of which has a poverty rate that is at least 500% of the statewide average.
Overall, the Region is a powerful example of a recurrent problem in environmental justice: poverty begets pollution and pollution begets poverty.