Chicago's largest philanthropic organization, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, announced it will invest $26 million in 16 low-income neighborhoods — Auburn Gresham; Chicago Lawn; the quad communities of Douglas, North Kenwood-Oakland and Grand Boulevard; East Garfield; Englewood; Humboldt Park; Little Village; Logan Square; North Lawndale; Pilsen; South Chicago; Washington Park; West Haven and Woodlawn. — over the next five years.
It's great news for neighborhoods that need help.
City Hall scribe Fran Spielman writes, "New Communities Program was tailor-made to revive downtrodden communities, give a shot in the arm to those on the edge and prevent gentrification from destroying the diversity of other neighborhoods."
The cynic in me wonders why these communities were selected. And how the money will be used to "prevent gentrification from destroying diversity" when the real estate market is already rolling in that direction thanks to speculators, a growing influx of high-priced condos and skyrocketing property taxes that follow.
Logan Square -- Gentrifying.
Kenwood-Oakland -- Gentrifying with an exploding real estate market.
Humboldt Park -- Gentrifying.
Pilsen -- Gentrifying (on the east side).
Washington Park and Woodlawn -- Could host Olympics, (residents fear gentrification.)
North Lawndale, West Haven -- A prime location for gentrification as development shifts westward from the West Loop.
Of course, the McArthur Foundation's heart and pocketbook is in the right place. I don't mean to criticize too much. Five years from now, I hope my cynical view is completely off base.
I guess I just wish there was more money to help build-up downtrodden Chicago neighborhoods that are plagued by gangs and drugs and lacking commercial development, but aren't on the gentrification track. They're worth saving, too.
What do you think?