NSP making a difference in Chicago Lawn
Chicago Lawn’s sturdy brick two-flats and bungalows, lined up like soldiers in a row, are the personification of a certain Chicago spirit – tough, resilient, humble and enduring. Good thing, too, because those buildings have stood up to a lot over the years – racial upheaval, unemployment cycles, and most recently a series of foreclosures that have left buildings on many blocks boarded up and abandoned.
A prospective buyer on a recent tour of NSP homes that are for sale in Chicago Lawn.
Photos by Bill Healy
But earlier this summer, Chicago’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), through a community open house and barbecue, shined a light on its efforts to breathe new life into some of those blocks by acquiring and renovating vacant, foreclosed properties and selling them to qualified buyers of modest means.
The tour of six NSP properties started and ended at the Greater Southwest Development Corporation, on West 63rd Street a few blocks west of Western Avenue. Groups of about 10 to 15 boarded a school bus and walked between the houses.
Sharon Banks brought her two children – Steven, an incoming high school freshman, and Summer, an incoming third-grader – to tour the homes with her. It was Summer who spotted the balloons outside an NSP property and urged her mom to find out what was happening. Banks, who works as a teacher’s aide at the local elementary school, not only got to view six unique houses, she also walked away with a gift card that she won as part of a raffle at one of the houses.
Earl Johnson was among the residents who greeted people on the NSP Chicago Lawn house tour.
Citibank sponsored the event and so at each house, prospective buyers were greeted by their representatives to talk about opportunities for financing the purchase of a home. They were joined by representatives from the City of Chicago and Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago. Also on hand was Earl Johnson, who lives next door to an NSP property on South Rockwell. Johnson, who has made a name for himself by standing up to the gangbangers and drug dealers who plagued his block for years, chatted up potential homebuyers and assured them that Chicago Lawn was a great place to call home.
Vaniecee Warren is one such potential homebuyer. She saw a flier for the open house at the police headquarters near her current home in Chicago Lawn. She was tired of renting and wanted a yard of her own. And so she joined the tour group to research what was available through the NSP. She says she’s going to get to the point where she can buy a home eventually.
With a little help from the NSP, her dreams may be this much closer.
The interior of one of the for-sale houses.
NSP has so far acquired 20 properties in Chicago Lawn, comprising 48 units of housing. Most of the properties are single-family homes or two-flats that are, or will be, for sale. One building, at 2501 W. 63rd St., is a 15-unit apartment building which will be available for rentals when renovation is completed.
Chicago Lawn NSP houses currently on the market (many already under contract) are:
6324 S. Campbell Ave.
6351 S. Campbell Ave.
6354 S. Rockwell St.
6405 S. Rockwell St.
6433 S. Talman Ave.
6501 S. Artesian Ave.
6408 S. Talman Ave.
6348 S. Campbell Ave.
6511 S. Maplewood Ave.
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