CHICAGO — A new pilot program aims to beautify 50 vacant lots on Chicago’s South and West sides while also training workers for future jobs.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot kicked off the Grounds For Peace vacant lot beautification project Tuesday. Working with Heartland Alliance’s READI Chicago program and the Urban Growers Collective, the project will target city-owned residential lots.
“Today, we’re bringing life and opportunities back into community spaces that have been left empty for decades,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Transforming our vacant lots into beautiful, open green spaces not only fosters safer streets and stronger communities but also contributes to a cleaner and healthier Chicago.”
The program is designed to “engage community members in reclaiming spaces that have contributed to violence,” according to the city. It was inspired by successful programs in other cities.
READI Chicago (which stands for Rapid Employment and Development Initiative) offers therapy, jobs and support services to hundreds of men from communities highly-affected by gun violence. About 50 of its participants will have the chance to be trained to landscape, plant and provide maintenance for lots in North Lawndale, Woodlawn and Englewood through Grounds for Peace.
Urban Growers Collective will give landscape training, supervision and “expertise on urban land interventions” as part of the $250,000 greening pilot, according to the city.
“Lot-by-lot, we’re restoring the vitality of our blocks by rejuvenating once-empty space with blossoming plants, grass and flowers,” Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) said.
Sites were selected based on proximity to violent crime and in communities with large concentrations of city-owned vacant lots. A map of the lots is below:
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