The pandemic has affected social and geographical areas and urban sectors differently. This project sought to understand why cities have responded the ways they have, and how the pandemic has changed existing forms of urban governance. In our study, Chicago and Toronto represent the wealthier cities in the Global North. Johannesburg represents the urban experience in the Global South. During COVID-19, these three cities launched various programs and projects to deal with the impact of the pandemic, forging new partnerships between grassroots organizations, citizens, and municipal authorities. Through this research, we will generate a database of policies and programs from Chicago, Toronto, and Johannesburg, and offer explanations on the convergence and divergence of their policy choices.
In our research, a common set of experiences pointed to the coexistence of inequalities suffered by some communities – racialized, poor, precariously housed, employed in frontline jobs – and innovative grassroots community responses in light of government failure to address these inequalities immediately during the crisis and beyond in more structural terms. This panel will focus on the Toronto case but importantly draw on similar experiences in Chicago and Johannesburg.