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Raul and Beth

July 20, 2010 by Jeisson

For the fourth week of Shadelab’s continuing endeavor the team met up with two faithful members of the LUCHA team, Beth and Raul. As mentioned before, LUCHA, is a non-profit organization put in place to help the Humboldt Park residents afford their houses and make good financial decisions.

Beth and Raul, began the congregation by giving us a short presentation about what they find LUCHA is all about. First, Beth told us of the organization’s goal to provide affordable housing to the people of Humboldt Park, and their day-to-day battle to keep houses available for the community. Later, Raul explained of how the organization’s first steps involved initializing community involvement and how exactly they managed to do this. They told of how their goals were explained during meetings held by the Chicago Police Department, and how they stirred the neighborhood with facts such as how the 2000 Census revealed that while the unemployment rate in the city was 10%, the unemployment rate in Humboldt Park is an unearthly 18%. They then called up the people who showed interest in their cause and held meetings where they explained the problem and asked the residents what would be the best way to fix it.

As an example, the residents had identified all of the abandoned lots in the neighborhood, which were mostly owned by people or banks, but said people were not willing to do anything with them because they were waiting for the lots to go up in price so they could make a large profit from the land, which left the current residents with a loss of houses, and a lack of stimulation to their neighborhood’s economy. In order to alleviate this, they first raised awareness, one of the ways being a paper with a map showing all foreclosed homes as kinds of cysts on the landscape, showing a visual, yet accurate representation of the density of those types of homes, increasing the impact of the information’s effect on people.

After their introduction, we moved on to talking about Shadelab’s goals and aspirations. Raul and Beth began writing our goals on a board and helped us find ways to achieve them. One helpful tip was regarding how to approach the community and ask them for their help. We found that we would need to not only capture their attention but also accommodate to their schedules. They explained that we would need to have a way to keep their kids in a safe haven while the meetings occur, so we would need activities for the kids to do. They also provided tips on how to approach the alderman, as well as highly advising that we give the members of the community roles in our cause so that it is clear that it is a group effort, and that they are the focus of our project.

The meeting was an astounding success, with many ideas thrown about the room, and plans set in motion. Raul and Beth, clearly defined LUCHA’s core values, such as to empower the community, respect diversity, and strive for excellence.