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LISC Partners Ready for NeighborWorks Day

There’ll be lots of painting, raking and mowing on Saturday, June 1, when several of LISC Chicago’s local partners turn out for the annual NeighborWorks Day.

Then again, there also will be food, fun and friendship – the latter being, perhaps, the most important result when neighbors work side-by-side, reinforcing each other’s commitment to building a stronger community.

Example of a creatively-painted boarded-up building on an MMRP block in West Humboldt Park.

John McCarron

“When you volunteer, you vote for the kind of community you want to live in,” said Ed Jacob, executive director of Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, organizer of the 26th annual clean-and-green event.

This year eight of the 10 participating city neighborhoods will concentrate on blocks targeted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Micro-Market Recovery Program (MMRP).  Launched two years ago by the city with the help of LISC, NHS and several other partners, it’s an effort to demonstrate how selected blocks hit hard by the foreclosure epidemic can be turned around, laying the groundwork for the return of private investment.

The sites

Volunteers are asked to assemble, ready-to-work, between 8 and 8:30 a.m. Saturday, June 1, at the following sites:

Auburn Gresham – Fences and porches will be painted, and flowers planted, on the 7700 block of South Carpenter Street, where a newly-formed block club is looking for help. There will also run an impromptu “resource fair” with information on foreclosure prevention, home repair and retirement planning.

Belmont CraginSpanish Coalition for Housing will host a resource fair at Blackhawk Park, 2318 N. Lavergne Ave. Organizations will provide information on programs for neighborhood building owners. They’ll be joined by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office regarding mortgages and the Chicago Bilingual Apartment Owners Association regarding building management.

Back of the Yards – The dark and forbidding railroad viaduct at 2200 W. 47th St. will get a bright “mural makeover” as befits a gateway to the new Back of the Yards College Prep High School opening this fall. (Not a MMRP neighborhood)

ChathamCommunity Investment Corporation, Chatham Business Association, First InSite Realty and 5T Management will join neighborhood residents in planting flowers and shrubs along the 8100 South Maryland block.

Chicago Lawn/Gage Park – The 6000 and 6100 blocks of South Rockwell Avenue will be getting new sod and new gardens as NHS and LISC neighborhood network partner Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) continue to revitalize these MMRP target blocks.

Englewood – The northwest corner of 63rd and the Dan Ryan Expressway is a vacant eyesore … but it’s about to become the “Englewood Gateway” thanks to volunteers working with R.A.G.E., Greater Englewood CDC and the LISC neighborhood network partner Teamwork Englewood.

Grand Boulevard – Partners in Community Building (PICB) will be working with local elementary and high school students and residents on painting a boarded-up building in the MMRP Target Area. Little Black Pearl will get its students involved as volunteers and in the creation of a design. 

North Lawndale – The 1300 block of South Christiana Avenue will have its vacant lots cleaned and its community gardens restored while LISC neighborhood network partner Lawndale Christian Development Corporation (LCDC), assisted by Architecture for Humanity, will demonstrate how it’s been rehabbing greystones in the area. Real Men Cook will be “manning” the grill. (Not a MMRP neighborhood)

Roseland – The 11600 block of South Ada Street, part of the West Pullman Micro-Market effort overseen by Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, will undergo “beautification” … followed by an NHS home improvement workshop at nearby Cooper Park.

West Humboldt Park - The 600 block of North Central Park Avenue, a key MMRP “gateway” block just north of the Garfield Park Conservatory, will have its vacant lots cleaned and mowed, its porches painted, its parkway trees mulched and ringed with flowers. NHS neighborhood director John Groene said the day is also the annual icebreaker to kick off weekly “sweep & greet” hours.      

Another MMRP block where protective window coverings on vacant buildings have been painted to foster the illusion of normalcy.

John McCarron

Last year more than 600 volunteers turned out to help on NeighborWorks Day in seven city neighborhoods, plus an NHS-supported neighborhood in northwest suburban Elgin.

This year’s focus on MMRP areas is both strategic and psychological, according to MMRP Coordinator Jack Swenson. “There’s community building going on here,” he said. “It’s collective action and it’s a powerful way to get people to re-engage with their neighborhoods.”

More information:  Stephanie Martel, NHS, 773-329-4104

Posted in Housing, Auburn Gresham, Back of the Yards, Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale


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Local Initiatives Support Corporation Chicago connects neighborhoods to the resources they need to become stronger and healthier.

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