The Austin community has been part of Chicago’s west side for many decades and has experienced various stages of development and depression over the years. There are historic structures within the area such as Columbus Park and Austin Town Hall, as well as corner stores and community-based faith organizations. There are nearly 100,000 residents, 31 percent of whom live below the poverty line and experience an unemployment rate of about 20 percent.
The Englewood and West Englewood communities have a combined population of approximately 65,000 residents. In Englewood, nearly 46 percent of residents live below the poverty line and experience an unemployment rate of 36 percent. Thirty-eight percent of West Englewood’s population lives below the poverty line and experiences an unemployment rate of about 35 percent. Originally known for their connection to the railroads, these communities have experienced a severe lack of economic opportunity over the last several decades. However, the 2007 development of Kennedy- King College helped to stimulate the desire to revive the area.
The West Garfield Park community is located approximately five miles west of downtown Chicago. At one time, this neighborhood was bustling with railroad activity that created viable economic opportunity. Home of the Garfield Park Conservatory, one of the largest in the U.S., this neighborhood is also heavily impacted by poverty and crime. There are approximately 18,000 residents, nearly 50 percent of whom live below the poverty line and experience an unemployment rate of about 18 percent.
The North Lawndale community was settled in the 1800’s and was an area known for its economic opportunity made possible by companies such as Sears, Roebuck & Co. Its K-Town Historic District boasts one of Chicago’s most concentrated collections of historic homes and is on the National Register of Historic Places. During the mid-1960’s, the neighborhood underwent a series of economic and social calamities – riots ensued, businesses closed, and property values decreased. There are approximately 36,000 residents, nearly 50 percent of whom live below the poverty line and experience an unemployment rate of about 23 percent.
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