Uplifting Voices in the North Lawndale Community

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsOut of the need to bring salient issues affecting residents in the North Lawndale neighborhood to the forefront, the Lawndale Christian Development Corporation (LCDC) was born. Established in 1987 by the Lawndale Christian Community Church, LCDC has been at the forefront of addressing social issues, eliminating disparities, and building community wealth in North Lawndale. Under the visionary leadership of Executive Director Richard Townsell, LCDC has championed transformative initiatives, including affordable housing development.

“One of our main goals is truly to address the housing disparity in the North Lawndale community,” said Whittney Smith, LCDC deputy director and counsel. “We want our residents to know they have a space here and not feel like they are being pushed out of the community due to the housing market. Our organization is here to help our residents achieve their goal, becoming a homeowner.”

Throughout the LCDC history, it has grown the North Lawndale Homeowners Association. There are 250 people in the organization and it is made of people who live in North Lawndale and are part of other Homeowners Associations. That collective has been able to band together and get the city of Chicago to put $2.2 million in the Chicago Public Library at Homan and 13th.

It also has been able to get land for new single family homes in North Lawndale, which is part of the organization’s mission to build 1,000 single family homes in the community. Over the past few decades, LCDC has developed more than 200 units of affordable housing and overseen around $120 million of residential and commercial redevelopment in North Lawndale, like building the Carole Robertson Center and local Lou Malnati’s.

As part of their ongoing vision, LCDC created Lawndale United: Development for a Stronger Community initiative as a means to place the power back to the residents. “Sometimes we think we are not in control of what happens in our communities,” said Smith. “This initiative is a way to give the power back to the residents and encourage them to ask questions about upcoming projects, to vocalize what they would like to see in their community, and really create a collaboration between our organization and residents.”

Lawndale United: Development for a Stronger Community initiative aims to bring community members, stakeholders, and LCDC together to collaboratively envision the future of North Lawndale, with the last two sessions being held at North Lawndale College Prep and the Sinai Community Institute. Through interactive activities, discussions, and engagement, participants will contribute their ideas, aspirations, and feedback, fostering a sense of collective ownership in shaping the community’s destiny. “Our goal is to host these sessions on a monthly basis,” said Smith. This year, LCDC plans to build up to another 50 of these homes and is hoping to soon scale to constructing around 200 a year.

LCDC offers a homebuyer education course that educates people on the process of becoming a homeowner. There is also a financial coach to help people repair and improve their credit while they are on the path to homeownership. If you are interested in learning more about the LCDC or the next Lawndale United session, visit www.lcdc.net.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

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