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A new model for affordable housing

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Two single-family homes developed by Lawndale Christian Development Corporation sit along South Avers Avenue in Chicago in September. (Joshua Lott/The Washington Post)

Over the years, rows of two-story stone houses and small buildings have fallen into disrepair in the Chicago neighborhood of North Lawndale. The neighborhood was made famous in 1966, when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — hoping to turn the focus of the civil rights movement on housing inequalities in the North — moved his wife and four children into a dilapidated apartment there. 

Decades later, much has stayed the same in North Lawndale, where crime and poverty rates remain high. Last year, more than 2,000 empty lots dotted the neighborhood. 

But a group of local developers and activists are pushing to change things. They’re planning to build 1,000 standalone affordable homes for people who already live in the neighborhood as renters, so they can buy homes and start building equity and generational wealth through homeownership.

The approach aims to end poverty by focusing not on rental subsidies, but on finance classes and helping people buy their own homes. But according to reporter Kyle Swenson, it’s an approach that will need federal government buy-in to really succeed. 

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