Interview with Elvy

I’ve lived in Chicago pretty much all of my life—so 40 years. I’m working with Stone Temple this year, we’re going to set up a community garden here. I’ve been in North Lawndale about eight years. We are getting more people moving in from different parts of the city. I myself came from further east into the neighborhood. Recently more people are looking at this neighborhood and seeing some of the really nice buildings—there’s a lot of graystones around here, there’s a lot of history to this area—and right now people might be able to afford something here that they can’t afford in another neighborhood.

I used to live in Pilsen years ago and I got pushed out from the pricing, so it makes me a little uncomfortable because I don’t want to see the community change so drastically, but it’s all part of how people come into a neighborhood. If you come into a neighborhood and you don’t try being a neighbor, if you’re just like isolated in your little house…that’s not the way to be part of a neighborhood. There’s ways of being a neighbor, and I think more people should consider that before they move into a community, like are they willing to become part of a neighborhood?

After the late ‘60s riots, the entire west side was left alone by the city, so there was a lot of slum lords around that let buildings go into massive disrepair. The communities were considered completely unsafe. They still have that reputation unfortunately but it was even worse then. But the families that lived here decided that’s not how they wanted to see their communities and they did something about it. It’s part of our history, it’s part of the history that people kind of scooch past because they don’t want to talk about the uncomfortable stuff that goes around it, but we should talk about how the city left certain neighborhoods to fend for themselves, here on the west side and the south side.

But all of a sudden the central part of the city isn’t as affordable anymore. We’re starting to feel the pressure here…but the city hasn’t done enough to stabilize affordable housing in the city. They should focus on building affordable housing so that it stays as amazing and as diverse a city as it is. We have people from all over the world in the city because they could find a neighborhood to lay down roots, and I think we need to keep that.

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