Stories by Jennifer Cotto

(WTTW News)

Chicago Housing Authority CEO Talks Agency Criticism, State of Affordable Housing

The Chicago Housing Authority is facing a lot of criticism. Alderpeople are questioning how the department is using its resources, while residents said there isn’t enough housing and what they do have is in poor condition.

(WTTW News)

Soaring Egg Prices Linked to Avian Flu Outbreak

What was once a cheap source of protein has become a luxury breakfast food. Egg prices have soared over the past year, as the worst avian flu outbreak in U.S. history has infected more than 57 million chickens.

(WTTW News)

No Plans to Ban Gas Stoves, But Health Concerns Remain

Politicians have blasted the notion of banning gas stoves after a federal regulator seemed open to it. It turns out, there are no plans to shut off the stoves for now — but there are significant concerns about their health risks.

(WTTW News)

Thousands of Cook County Residents May See Medical Debt Disappear Under New Program

Medical debt affects 27% of Cook County residents. Of those, 42% are people of color.

(WTTW News)

3 Chicago Police Officers Die by Suicide in Single Week

Three Chicago police officers died by suicide in the last week. That brings the total number of Chicago Police Department officer suicides to seven this year.

(WTTW News)

Santa Claus on the Importance of Representation

He’s known by many names: Old Saint Nick, Kris Kringle and Father Christmas. But perhaps the biggest change is recent. Today’s Santas are more diverse, bringing children not just gifts but also representation.

As Chicago Moves to Encrypt and Delay Scanner Traffic, Media and 1st Amendment Advocates Push Back

In Chicago, the ability to access police scanner traffic in real time is going away as Mayor Lightfoot moves forward with a plan to encrypt all police communications and delay them for 30 minutes, citing officer and victim safety. 

(WTTW News)

Shooting Near High School Brings Up Discussions Around School Resource Officers

Students and community members rallied Monday calling for solutions to the city’s gun violence, which has recently come to the doorstep of schools like Juarez. The shooting also sheds light on the debate over police officers in schools, who are known as school resource officers. 

(WTTW News)

Heart Attacks Spike by 30% in the Last 2 Weeks of the Year. Here Are Warning Signs to Watch.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s also a time when heart attacks and strokes spike. Research shows heart attacks spike by 30% to 40% in the last two weeks of the year.

(Courtesy of Greater Chicago Food Depository)

Food Insecurity Among Black Households Up 37% Since Pandemic, Greater Chicago Food Depository Estimates

The Greater Chicago Food Depository estimates that while food insecurity is overall 19% higher compared to pre-pandemic levels, it’s 37% higher for Black households.

Maudlyne Ihejirika appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Dec. 8, 2022. (WTTW News)

After Sun-Times Retirement, Longtime Journalist Maudlyne Ihejirika Reflects on Her Career in Chicago

A longtime Chicago journalist just stepped away from her job after 30 years of covering crime, politics, education and urban affairs.

(WTTW News)

From How Much to Where Money Is Donated, Inflation Could Affect Charitable Giving

Researchers say despite the pandemic and inflation concerns this year, people are still giving their money — but cautiously.

(WTTW News)

Analysis Finds Many Chicago Polling Places Not ADA Compliant

An internal analysis from the Chicago Board of Elections found that less than 10% of polling places were compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The board says that doesn’t necessarily mean most of those locations are inaccessible.

(Courtesy of Greater Chicago Food Depository)

Chicago-Area Food Pantries Dealing With Rising Need, Higher Prices

For families already stretching to make ends meet, higher food prices means seeking help from local food pantries. Many Chicago-area pantries are reporting a significant increase in demand.

 Enrique Mazzola, music director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Nov. 21, 2022. (WTTW News)

After Pandemic Slowdown, Lyric Opera of Chicago Music Director Looks to Ramp Back Up

Maestro Enrique Mazzola took over as music director of the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2019 with grand plans for the 70-year-old institution. Then the pandemic hit.


After Formula Shortage, Breast Milk Bank Aims to Meet Demand

In the Chicago area, Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes is the only accredited milk bank. Despite a slow increase in supply, the bank is still providing this valuable resource.  

(WTTW News)

Study Finds Hair Straightening Chemicals Associated With Higher Risk of Uterine Cancer

A study from the National Institutes of Health last month showed women who use chemical hair relaxers or straighteners may have a higher risk of the cancer.

(WTTW News)

Students of Color Face Major Hurdles Around College Debt

When it comes to paying off that debt, Black and Latino graduates are struggling. Nearly half of Black students owe an average of 12.5% more than they borrowed, according to the Education Data Initiative.

(WTTW News)

Number of New Cases of HIV, AIDS Diagnosed in Chicago Drops

A new report from the Chicago Department of Public Health says not only are fewer people being diagnosed, but more people who are already living with HIV-AIDS are reaching viral suppression. 

Cook County Courthouse. (WTTW News)

Changes Likely to SAFE-T Act as State’s Attorneys Raise Concerns

Changes are coming to the SAFE-T Act, the new law that, among many other things, does away with cash bail starting in the new year.

It's become a political flashpoint in the race for governor and took center stage at the last debate.

(WTTW News)

Check Your Polling Place Before Heading Out to Vote, Chicago Board of Elections Says

The Chicago Board of Elections is urging voters to look at their new precinct map before voting in the upcoming election.  

Recovery work after the Repsol oil spill. (Courtesy of Oceana Peru)

Brookfield Zoo Researchers Honored for Work in Oil Spill Recovery Efforts

Recently, two researchers with Brookfield Zoo received prestigious awards for their work in the field. Their current work focuses on the impacts of major oil spills on marine life.

Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering appears on "Chicago Tonight" on Oct. 10, 2022. (WTTW News)

Highland Park Continues to Recover 3 Months After Fourth of July Shooting

It has been three months since seven people were killed and 48 others were injured in a shooting at Highland Park's Fourth of July Parade.

Aesha “Eesh” Dominguez works on new theme music for “Chicago Tonight.” (WTTW News)

Meet the Local Composer Behind the New Theme Music for ‘Chicago Tonight’

The person behind the new sound is Chicagoan Aesha “Eesh” Dominguez. She’s a classically trained pianist and vocalist and is one of the few female sound engineers in town.


Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Advocating for Electoral Count Act

The effort comes after the numerous revelations of a fake elector scheme leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, and as election deniers in many races aim to win positions of power.

(WTTW News)

City of Chicago to Offer Workers 12 Weeks of Paid Parental Leave

As of Jan. 1, any city employee who’s worked for at least one year will receive 12 weeks of paid parental time off. In a country that has zero guaranteed paid parental leave, Chicago is one of a handful of cities expanding this benefit.