The Force Behind Woodlawn’s Resurgence
In 2011, with the help of a strong coalition of community-based organizations and stakeholders, POAH and the City of Chicago received a $30.5 million HUD Choice Neighborhoods Initiative grant. This grant supports new and renovated housing, new programs and services for residents and a bigger investment in community schools, public safety, infrastructure, and job training. In less than five years, the initiative helped POAH develop more than 800 new units of quality affordable housing.
Among the Choice partners POAH is working with is the Woodlawn Resource Center, which opened in June of 2012. The Center offers job placement, education and career training for Woodlawn residents. Case managers, employment specialists and financial literacy coaches help residents with job training and money management skills. In its short existence, the Woodlawn Resource Center has helped more than 400 people find jobs. Today, the Woodlawn Resource Center team is focused on recruiting and preparing local residents for the nearly 500 jobs created by Woodlawn's new full-service grocery store, a 50,000 square-foot Jewel-Osco opened in March 2019 on POAH's Woodlawn Park footprint at 61st and Cottage Grove.
Established in 2009, The Woodlawn Children’s Promise Community (WCPC) brings together a university, the Chicago Public Schools, and one of the city’s largest churches - Woodlawn Apostolic Church of God. WCPC focuses on improving the quality of instruction and leadership in schools, expanding support for youths and families, and directing family and community assets on positive educational outcomes.
Together with its partners, POAH is working on a shared neighborhood vision to revitalize Woodlawn.
This is exactly the kind of development HUD had in mind when the Choice Neighborhood Program was created - a mix of incomes and land uses that anchor schools, new businesses and a safe environment that are the hallmarks of a sustainable community.
-HUD Secretary Julian Castro, The Burnham groundbreaking, August, 2014