Making A Difference

1,000 Vacant and Abandoned Homes Transformed by Cook County

The effort was spearheaded by the Cook County Land Bank Authority in the wake of the 2008 housing crisis.

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The Cook County Land Bank Authority is celebrating its 1,000th home transformed, a project completed on Chicago's West Side by a local developer.

"We came from the projects; we didn’t live in something like this. To come from what I come from, to be able to do things like this is kind of unheard of in some of these communities," said Henry Shelton, a local developer.

The Greystone is just an example of why this project is so meaningful, organizers said. A once-abandoned property gets transformed, a new family gets to move in, and the neighborhood gets new life pumped into it.

Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board president, believes this project is long overdue.

"African American and Latino communities throughout the city have been disinvested in for a very long time. And it's important for government, since government was complicit in that disinvestment, that government assists in the redevelopment of our neighborhoods,” Preckwinkle said.

It's taken 14 years to complete 1,000 property transformations, but the project is not done. Officials with Cook County believe the work needs to continue to help lift marginalized communities and allow them to catch up.

"The consequences not just of the housing crisis of 2008 but decades and centuries of bad government policy and extraction of our Black and brown communities," Preckwinkle said.

Officials with the Cook County Land Bank Authority told NBC 5 their commitment to revitalize neighborhoods remains strong. While they celebrated their 1,000th house, the organization is already looking forward to the next 1,000.

"These are neighborhoods that are vibrant and strong and have strong community, and we are building on that strength," said Eleanor Gorski, executive director of the Cook County Land Bank said.

To learn more about this initiative follow this link.

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