Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=215922
Story Retrieval Date: 10/31/2014 5:14:52 PM CST

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Jonathan Greig/MEDILL

Mayor Emanuel emphasized the interconnectedness of Chicago neighborhoods in his comments at the awards ceremony.


Urban garden, Latino dorm, among recipients of community development awards

by Jonathan Greig
Feb 14, 2013



Jonathan Greig/MEDILL

Mayor Rahm Emanuel discusses development in Chicago


Failure to invest in communities impacts public health, experts say

Before the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards ceremony, a panel discussed health issues in the city, how community development affects public health and what can be done to address these issues.

The forum, featuring community and health officials, detailed the devastating effect disinvestment has on community coherence. The lack of opportunity and access to resources forces citizens to make impossible choices about their housing and health.

“We have a lot of families making tough, tough choices,” said Jeff Bartow, executive director of the Southwest Organizing Project. “I remember a conversation I had vividly where, in Spanish, a woman asked me ‘should I buy my diabetes medicine or pay my mortgage?’ What kind of choices are those?” 
For many young Latinos, being first-generation college students presents a long list of new problems that they must face on their own. But through the Resurrection Project and UrbanWorks Ltd., these students can cross housing off that list.

With the creation of La Casa, a brand new college dormitory in Pilsen, these students have a sleek new building to call their own. Featuring 25 four-bedroom suites for 100 students, La Casa was built as an affordable living space for the neighborhood’s college students. The mix of brick, glass and steel make it relatable to the area yet modern.

Through community involvement, UrbanWorks created a building that serves not only the needs of the students living there, but the neighborhood as a whole, with space for dining and retail.

This project is one of the eight developments honored at the 19th annual Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards on Wednesday.

The awards brought together developers and community groups that had a significant impact on their neighborhoods while discussing goals and plans for 2013.

Held at the Hilton Hotel on Michigan Avenue, the event was attended by more than 1,000 leaders from the business and non-profit world. Eight developments won awards in areas ranging from Englewood to Logan Square. Two organizational leaders working in affordable housing and LGBTQ rights were also honored.

“This year’s awardees embody the process of renewal and reinvention that is essential to maintain the vitality and relevance of neighborhoods,” said Lori Healey, CEO of Tur Partners and chair of the event. “What continues to impress and inspire me is the clear-eyed vision of the communities and the tenacity and excellence with which it turns ideas into neighborhood and city-serving realities,” she said.

The winning structures addressed many of the biggest issues facing neighborhoods today including Growing home Inc.’s urban farm in Englewood to address food deserts that are common in poorer communities throughout Chicago.

Among the other developments honored were a health center, a new elementary school, a soccer field and an apartment building.

In his comments, Mayor Rahm Emanuel highlighted the vital role infrastructure plays in creating an environment that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but functional. He praised the ceremony for bringing neighborhoods together and nurturing an environment of development for the city as a whole.

“I think we’re at an inflection point, upon reflection, where you cannot say anymore that because it happened in Roseland and I’m in Ravenswood, that it’s not your problem,” he said. “That means we’re going to start measuring up to who we can be.”