In Logan Square and Hermosa, home buyers on the hunt
Vanessa Valentin and James Rudyk aren’t exactly salesmen – they’re respectively a community organizer and executive director for the Northwest Side Housing Center – but they recently demonstrated the art of persuasion while leading a trolley-full of potential home buyers through the streets of Logan Square and Hermosa.
James Rudyk and Vanessa Valentin point out items of interest during a tour of Neighborhood Stabilization Program houses for sale in Logan Square and Hermosa.
Photos by Gordon Walek
The occasion was a tour of four formerly vacant, foreclosed houses that Mercy Portfolio Services, through the federally-funded Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), had acquired. The properties were rehabbed by NSP-approved developers and are now available to home buyers of modest means.
NSP has been acquiring similar properties on targeted blocks in 29 Chicago neighborhoods in hopes that returning vacant single-family houses and apartment buildings to productive use would arrest the slide of disinvestment and abandonment sparked by the collapse of the housing market several years ago.
Valentin and Rudyk – she in Spanish, he in English – weren’t just selling the four houses, though. They were selling the neighborhoods.
“We’re not going to pass it,” said Rudyk as the trolley approached the first house – a solid brick single-family at 1823 N. Tripp Ave., “but two blocks north of here, at 2156 N. Tripp, is the childhood home of Walt Disney.”
Who knew? A couple of blocks later, as the trolley rolled down Armitage, the tour guides noted that the Honduras consulate was just up the road, on Fullerton. And on Hamlin Avenue, Rudyk and Valentin pointed out Mozart Elementary School. “It’s one of five local schools where the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (which helped organize the tour) operates community learning centers,” they said. “They provide classes for adults – like English as a second language and GED – plus after-school programs and homework help for kids and lots of arts and cultural programs.”
The leafy streets of the Northwest Side neighborhoods are a lure for people who want not only a house but a good community to live in.
On a brief detour on North Avenue, through neighboring Humboldt Park, they passed a number of excellent restaurants, businesses, churches and key community agencies. The roughly 30 mostly Latino passengers, many with small children, nodded approval. The local amenities, coupled with the appeal of the leafy Logan Square and Hermosa streets, lined with tidy frame and brick single-family homes, made this expedition a realtor’s dream.
And the realtors were on hand, too, at each of the houses – 1823 N. Tripp Ave., 2028 N. Kilbourn Ave., 2016 N. Karlov Ave., and 3508 W. Palmer St., where they dispensed listing sheets and answered questions during the 10-minute house tours. The drill was repeated many times over the course of the day as two trolleys ferried about 150 people back and forth between the McCormick Tribune YMCA at 1834 N. Lawndale Ave. and the four houses.
At the Y, they had the opportunity to speak with lenders, meet with housing counseling agencies and eat lunch.
Juan M. Zapata was in the market for a house for his parents.
“This is a good program,” Juan M. Zapata, who was helping his elderly parents find a new, small house relatively close to where he’s living on North Springfield, said about NSP. He was impressed with the quality of the rehabs and the generous subsidies available through the program.
Ditto for Ana Jimenez, 22, and Anita Dzitkowski, 26, friends who currently live on adjacent floors in a Logan Square apartment building but are keen to move to single family homes. They’re familiar with the neighborhood, like it, and want to stay. And through NSP they might be able to own places with monthly payments comparable to their rent checks.
Last year, NSP had a similar tour of for-sale houses in Humboldt Park. They sold quickly and it wouldn’t be a surprise if those in Logan Square and Hermosa do, too. All properties showcased on the tour are currently under contract.
Anita Dzitkowski, left, and Ana Jimenez - neighbors in a Logan Square apartment building - were both looking for places to buy.
Spirits on the trolley were high, the houses and streets looked great, and despite the hardship and heartbreak that have afflicted so many homeowners as a result of the foreclosure crisis, plenty of people – many of them on the trolleys – remained convinced that home ownership is a worthy goal. Some of them will soon be moving in to the NSP houses they visited.
Posted in News