Community Member

People for Community Recovery

Southside Chicago, Illinois

People for Community Recovery (PCR), founded in 1979 in Chicago, IL, is devoted to tenants’ rights and environmental issues, particularly in Altgeld Gardens, a Chicago Housing Authority development on the city’s south side. Dubbed the “toxic donut” due to the surrounding landfills, factories, sewage plants and underground chemical storage tanks leaking cancerous compounds like liquid silicon tetrachloride, the community suffers the highest cancer rates in the area. The mission of PCR is to enhance the quality of life of residents living in communities affected by environmental pollution. They advocate, educate, and organize on community-identified priorities including environmental and climate justice, safe and affordable housing, economic equity and community health.  PCR remains a leading advocate in campaigns to mitigate environmental and economic burdens disproportionately borne by underserved communities in Chicago.

Activists, including Cheryl Johnson, fight to prevent CPS from tearing down historic buildings in Altgeld Gardens.

PCR was founded by Hazel Johnson, who was recognized for her environmental justice achievements by the EPA and President Clinton. In the 1980s, PCR joined 5 other groups to prevent new toxics storage in the neighborhood. Johnson and other demonstrators were arrested, but they won a moratorium on toxic dumping. Today’s staff of 6 includes Hazel’s daughter, Cheryl Johnson. They reach 1,000 Facebook followers, offering training in lead, asbestos, mold, and hazardous waste removal in partnership with trade organizations. PCR filed a HUD complaint that began a federal investigation of city zoning. As a result, the mayor proposed policies to end city practices that funneled pollution to brown and black neighborhoods. PCR helped lead a campaign to switch all the city’s buildings to renewable energy, and the city resolved to do so by 2035. In a timely joint program with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, PCR is training a local workforce for the city’s growing solar economy.

Cheryl Johnson with People for Community Recovery (PCR) On their community organizing and advocacy in Altgeld Gardens. After the passing of her mother, the late Hazel Johnson, known nationally and internationally as the mother of environmental justice, Cheryl Johnson and PCR have continued to address environmental racism and climate justice.

For more information:

Johnson unveils city reforms to fight environmental racism – Chicago Sun Times, September 2023

Congress honors environmental justice pioneer Hazel M. Johnson – Grist, May 2021

Hazel Johnson, the mother of environmental justice, was Catholic – Earthbeat, February 2021

Op-Ed: Build a Solar Farm in Altgeld – South Side Weekly, September 2020

Life in the Doughnut – South Side Weekly, April 2019

2019 Award Winner: Cheryl Johnson – Vote Solar, March 2019

A2 Staff

A2 Staff

This profile was compiled by a dedicated team of staff members who conducted interviews and gathered information from various outlets, including news articles, social media, and other sources.


Cheryl Johnson


Social Media

Climate Impacts

Air Pollution, Water Contamination


Affordable Housing, Fighting Industrial Contamination, Halting Bad Development, Renewable Energy

501c3 Tax Deductible


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