Our community members are our source of strength. I Grow Chicago is embedded in the Englewood and West Englewood, neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago with beautiful people facing serious barriers and challenges. While we recognize the chronic trauma and disinvestment in our hood, we also see resilience, love, and hope.
What We’re Up Against
Our community doesn’t need rescuing, it needs investment. Our neighbors don’t need saving, they need support. We need to connect with each other over our common humanity. There is no simple story or quick fix. To heal the root cause, we have to get messy. We get in proximity to the problem, and that isn’t short and sweet or easy to digest. We can’t throw labels onto an entire community or prescribe cookie cutter solutions and expect true healing or justice. Families live here. This isn’t “Chiraq.” This is a neighborhood where real people live, people who deserve celebrating and who deserve opportunity for the simple reason that they are human.
Below we share some of the barriers and challenges our community faces every day, but please know that the conversation must be so much deeper than statistics and figures. We present these numbers not to simplify the conversation, but to confront with honesty the disparities that exist in our city so that we may come together in love and solidarity.
West Englewood Community Statistics
- Median household income of $25,625 — half the citywide median income of $47,831
- Households below poverty level: 32.3%
- Unemployment rate: 37%
- No high school diploma: 30.3%
- Up to 700,000 jobs are located within a 30-minute train or bus ride from the Loop and North Side, while just 50,000 jobs are located within a 30-minute commute on public transit from the South Side of Chicago.
- Second most violent community in Chicago
- Population ever arrested: Male 59% Female 16%
- 81% of male residents report that racial or ethnic profiling by police is extremely or very common
- 35% of adults report feeling unsafe alone in neighborhood in the daytime
- 46% of adults feel unsafe alone in neighborhood in the nighttime
- 30 year disparity in life expectancy between downtown Chicago and Englewood
- West Englewood has the 2nd highest food insecurity rate and lowest income per capita
- Hunger Insecure residents: 33%
- Asthma rate: 22%
- 54% of male residents have been arrested or charged since the age of 18 — disrupting family units, compounding economic insecurity, and destabilizing the environment in which their children are growing up
Healing from the Root
In all of our work, we address the barriers to wellness and root causes of trauma and violence. Recognizing that people don’t lead single-issue lives, we are holistic in our approach and view people as unique and whole beings. But there are commonalities across the people we serve. We often see these barriers and issues in our West Englewood community, even among a single person:
- Housing insecurity
- Mental illness
- Substance abuse
- Limited access to fresh, healthy food
- PTSD from experiencing or committing violence
- Police brutality
- Fear of walking outside because of violence
- Sexual assault
- Lack of safe transportation
- Low educational support or attainment
- Illiteracy or partial literacy
- Child support and family law cases
- Poverty and joblessness
- Lack of healthcare access
All these problems weave together into a web that is hard to escape.
Think of it this way
If you get a job but can’t find affordable childcare, you can’t keep a job.
If you don’t have clean clothes and you’re hungry, you might make it to school but you won’t learn your best.
If you attempt to stem violence without providing opportunity, you’re planting a seed without watering it.
If you rally around children but not their caregivers, you provide temporary help.
If you come into a community without becoming part of the community, everyone misses out.
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