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Bickerdike, Police Win National Safety Award

Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation and the Chicago Police Department were honored by MetLife Foundation for their extraordinary partnership to improve community safety on Wednesday, November 6, at a ceremony at the Harold Washington Unity Co-op, 649 N. Troy, in Humboldt Park. MetLife Managing Director Jennifer des Groseilliers presented the partners with the $20,000 award.

Award recipients (l to r): NCP Safety Committee Member Doris Brown; CPD Commander Robert Lopez; Bickerdike Executive Director Joy Aruguete; and Nicole Soto representing her father Andy Soto

Vincent Edmunds

The Chicago partnership was selected from more than 540 applicants nationwide for a MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Award, a program administered by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). The partners’ collaborative approach to revitalize the community through a place-based approach caught the attention of the national selection committee comprised of police commanders, community development executives and LISC staff.

“Collaboration between community-based groups and police departments can reduce crime, stimulate housing and business activity, and improve the quality of life in lower-income neighborhoods,” added Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “The Chicago partnership is an exemplary model for groups nationwide facing similar challenges and opportunities.”

Over the last 10 years, Bickerdike and Chicago Police have led a joint initiative to stabilize the Humboldt Park community. The goal of this partnership is to improve quality of life in an area known for violent crime. 

“Working with community members is essential to the work of the Chicago Police Department," said Commander Robert Lopez. "Through Bickerdike’s leadership and hands-on approach, we are continuing to build on our close partnership with the community – which is a key part of our work to continue reducing crime in neighborhoods throughout Chicago. Bickerdike residents understand it’s not just about one unit or one building, it’s about all of the residents of this community.” 

Since 2005, Bickerdike has constructed 181 affordable units in two developments in Humboldt Park: Harold Washington Unity Co-op and Rosa Parks Apartments.  Due to high levels of crime in the surrounding community, the organization partnered with the 11th and 14th police districts to develop a preventative and responsive strategy to stabilize both locations.

“Bickerdike has enjoyed a long term, working relationship with the Chicago Police Department in creating safer neighborhoods for the residents of our communities,” said Joy Aruguete, Bickerdike's executive director.

Following the construction of these two developments, the surrounding area began to rebound, and for the first time in years, investments in the neighborhood are flourishing. Positive neighborhood developments include the opening of the Kelly Hall YMCA, construction of the Richard M. Daley branch of the Chicago Public Library, adult education and digital literacy trainings, a large scale public health and obesity prevention campaign, a year-round farmers market, free fitness classes, and the opening of the first sit-down restaurant in over 30 years, on Chicago Avenue. 

Over the years, the partnership has deepened to include both a preventative and responsive stabilization strategy, overcoming funding challenges and major law enforcement turnover. Components of the long-term strategy include educating residents about safety protocols and programs, regular meetings with police commanders, and coordination of community events, such as art projects that help build community connections.

Bickerdike has been a lead agency in LISC Chicago's Neighborhood Network since 2003. “We are so proud that the hard work of local leadership at the community and district level is being recognized on the national stage,” said LISC Executive Director Susana Vasquez. “The collaboration between Bickerdike, residents and police officers to secure these locations together with the new housing developments has changed the landscape of this neighborhood. We applaud the vision, commitment and hard work of all involved.”

Posted in Housing, Safety, Humboldt Park


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