Pilsen, Melrose Park Receiving a Housing Boost Through Neighborhood Stabilization Program

Alex Morales-Aponte Photo

Alex Morales discusses Pilsen's housing situation during a visit to a DePaul University graduate journalism class. (Photo by Luz Garcia Cubillos)

By Matt Bailey

The housing stock around Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood is about to receive a $13.5 million boost.

Beginning this month, The Resurrection Project will put money from the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program into action.

Earlier in the year, suburban Melrose Park received a $4.5 million award through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program with the purpose of, “purchasing foreclosed homes and make them affordable,” according to Alex Morales, the resource development project manager for The Resurrection Project.

The larger allotment to the New City community area (which includes the Back of the Yards neighborhood that borders Pilsen) and subsequent rehabilitation will benefit those individuals and families earning 50 percent, or less of the Area Median Income.

The Resurrection Project has been involved in the affordable housing business for more than a decade, and Morales said it has earned the trust of Pilsen residents through its support.

“We have turned $30,000 [their initial funding grant] into $100 million in community reinvestment,” he said.

Morales said it’s common knowledge that economically deprived people were the ones who most suffered during the recent recession, which started with the subprime crisis in late 2008, and that they were victims of cynical and predatory lenders.

Morales reeled off a list of banks, including Bank of America and Deutsche Bank, that he said were most responsible for selling deceitful loans in his community.

As a landlord, The Resurrection Project gets 50 percent of its funds from rent collection. The other half comes from grants, foundations and private donors. If people do not pay their rent they will be evicted, Morales said.

“Our eviction process has improved but we’re not low-income housing,” he said. “We’re affordable housing.”

In Latino culture, property ownership is “very important,” said Eileen Alcala, who lives in Edison Park but is a self-described member of the Chicano Power movement.

“Latinos are devout believers of the American Dream,” Alcala said. “They see property ownership as the first step to wealth and acceptance.”

Video: Morales discusses how Pilsen must preserve the Latino culture.

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