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That's Not Code for Gentrification

By Alicia Dorr in News on May 23, 2007 6:06PM

murala.jpgIt's hard not to love Chicago's MacArthur Foundation because even when they cut funds for something you cherish, they continue to support tons of other amazing services, community programs, and on and on. The newest rabbit with a hat up its sleeve is a boatload of money for sixteen ailing Chicago neighborhoods the Local Initiatives Support Corporation* is concentrating on with its New Communities Program.

In what someone (but who?!) calls "the nation's largest community and economic development effort" the foundation more than doubled its first $21 million investment, this time offering up $26 million for the neighborhoods, which include Chicago Lawn, East Garfield, Englewood, Humboldt Park, Little Village, Logan Square, North Lawndale, South Chicago and Pilsen, among others.

The city has spent the initial funds have been spent on keeping families in their homes despite redevelopment, street festivals, establishing commercial areas in some communities and myriad other things. It really does seem that what's been done with the money is fairly straightforward — allocating funds for community groups who can reccommend best what the area needs and then implement the changes.

Call us cynical (which we know is the least of what you'll call us), but we still have a few questions. Maybe it's because everything sounds so good — to the point that part of the mission seems to be guarding neighborhoods against gentrification. A closer look at the New Communties mission gets us a little excited, because the idea of people determining what their community is instead of being told is positive. We do hope that everyone in these "struggling" communities knows about their chance to be a part of keeping it interesting. Sometimes people just need a little nudge out of the door.

*Thanks Laura!

Image via The Methods Reporter.