Welcome to the Southwest Organizing Project’s (SWOP) new website. We are glad you are here. We hope that this website will give the institutions, leaders, and residents of the Southwest Chicago community the opportunity to connect with one another, tell their stories, and build power for change in the community.

Leaders Celebrate Success of Reclaim Southwest Chicago Campaign

On Thursday, August 18th, more than 300 hundred SWOP leaders joined with members of United Power and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to celebrate the successes of the Reclaim Southwest Chicago Campaign.  Starting on the steps of St. Rita’s Church, the crowd heard Imelda Salazar of SWOP and Nick Brunick of United Power tell the story of how the groups had met in the same place four years ago to push for a program to address the plague of foreclosed homes in the community.  They heard Father Tony Pizzo talk about how we were not rehabbing houses, but we were building homes.

With SWOP and United Power leaders and Lisa Madigan in the front, the group headed out for a tour of the community to see the transformation that was underway.  The visited homes rehabbed by Brinshore Development and the Inner-city Muslim Action Network (IMAN).  Participants saw recently rehabbed homes where Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) had helped local contractors buy and renovate vacant properties.  They saw other homes that will be rehabbed soon.  The people on the walk learned how the community has gone from more 90 vacant homes to around 20 now; and soon, there will be none.

Along the way, the people on the tour saw the physical improvements in Morrill School with their new playground.  They learned how all the schools in the community have moved from being rated level 3 schools to being rated level 2 schools; with Morrill moving to a level 1 school.  They heard how the number of crimes committed in the area had been cut in half in the last four years.

After the walk, the group filled the gym at Fairfield Academy.  The room was hot, but filled with hope and a sense of happiness at what is being accomplished, as speaker after speaker talked about the importance of coming together to work for a stronger, healthier community.  Attorney General Lisa Madigan addressed the group and expressed her pleasure in being back in the community after four years and her respect for the process of renewal underway. She said the group may have brought here her to say thanks, but really she was the one that needed to thank all the people in the room for their efforts to transform the community.

The event wrapped up with a call to spread the work of Reclaim Southwest Chicago to other parts of the community and to other sections of the city.  While the work in SWOP’s target area has been incredibly successful, there is still much to do in other parts of the community and the city.

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