Black developers build affordable housing on abandoned land in West Woodlawn

Thanks to the Land Bank, we have purchased 12 abandoned lots where we will soon be building new state-of-the-art homes in a community in desperate need of quality and affordable housing.

These transactions would not have been possible without the Land Bank, which is removing huge barriers to the process of acquiring vacant homes and clearing titles without using taxpayer money. Without the land bank, these houses would have either remained abandoned or bought by a large developer who had the resources to sit on them for years until gentrification guaranteed a significant return.

Not us. Our architect is already working on design concepts. As always, we’ll be hiring from within the community, to ensure that the reach of our project reaches as many Chicagoans as possible.

Architects, accountants, lawyers, carpenters, landscapers, HVAC professionals, plumbers, electricians, security personnel – an all-black team like this community will transform this block from top to bottom, creating over 150 jobs by the end of next year.

This is where we will have the most impact: employing formerly incarcerated citizens, who often find it difficult to move forward without much help once outside; the elderly, who may have difficulty finding work; and those who haven’t had many opportunities but who, once given the chance, find great pride and do a remarkable job in building the neighborhood.

For us, our work is not limited to this block. We know that a large-scale project like this has the power to attract more investment to West Woodlawn, which has closed and vacant homes on almost every block. A nearby commercial corridor on 67th Street is also ripe for redevelopment of black-owned businesses.

And we know it will happen; development breeds development, and development breeds stability. Each new owner is an anchor that keeps our neighborhood in a safe haven before the next economic crisis.

Until then, we’ll be building our neighborhoods one block at a time. And when the owners nearby need a little help, maybe cutting the grass or shoveling the snow, we’ll ask our crews to do that, too. Because that’s what the neighbors do. This is what it means to be part of a community.

Bottom row, from left: Sean Jones, Bonita Harrison and DaJuan Robinson. Top row, from left: Keith lindsey and Derrick Walker. They are real estate developers who build affordable and market-priced developments on the South and West sides.

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