By Center for Community Investment
Woodlawn, Chicago, Illinois
The Woodlawn neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago has a rich history and a bright future. Flanked by Jackson and Washington Parks and in close proximity to the University of Chicago’s South Campus, Woodlawn was home to the 1893 World’s Fair and was later a cultural hub with landmark jazz clubs. Like too many thriving and racially diverse urban communities, Woodlawn’s population peaked in 1960 and the following decades brought population decline and disinvestment, attributable in large part to racist policies and practices. Today, growth on the University of Chicago’s South Campus and the planned Obama Presidential Center have attracted new attention to the area and new concerns about further displacement of longtime residents. However, a strategic and comprehensive approach to both preservation and revitalization has helped ensure that longtime residents can thrive in their communities.
In 2008, Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) was invited by the community to acquire Grove Parc Apartments, a 504-unit Section 8 development that was slated for closure. The physical condition and design of Grove Parc was not conducive to healthy, long term preservation, so POAH instead started down a path of using the subsidy from Grove Parc to help create a community of over 1,000 new rental homes that would serve current residents, meet new demand, and create a vibrant home for longtime residents. This redevelopment was accomplished without displacement. All residents of Grove Parc were guaranteed new homes in Woodlawn.