The Five Communities
The Smart Communities program serves five digitally underserved communities, each with its own assets and challenges. They all share, however, a need for increased investment and opportunities for residents and local businesses. Working across the city provides an excellent opportunity for the program to build solutions that work in different neighborhoods and to foster communication and collaboration through designing and implementing technology solutions.
Auburn Gresham is an African-American, moderate-income neighborhood that rebounded in the late 1990s after two decades of residential flight and commercial disinvestment along 79th Street. New facilities, programs, housing, and businesses have opened through the joint efforts of the alderman, the city, local churches and community leaders. Auburn gresham has approximately 53,300 residents, with a large number of seniors.
Chicago lawn is a multi-ethnic working class community determined to create an attractive, safe and inviting place to live for families from many backgrounds. From 1990 to 2005, Chicago Lawn’s population grew by 23 percent, to 62,100. The area has also become more diverse as the African-American population has reached more than 50 percent and the Latino population has grown to 40 percent.
Englewood, once home to the city’s second-busiest shopping district at 63rd and Halsted streets, in recent decades has struggled to reverse a long decline in population and economic health. But new development in this largely African-American community, including the Kennedy-King College campus, has begun to breathe life into the neighborhood and attract additional investments. Englewood’s population was 36,700 in 2005, from a peak of 97,000 in 1960.
Humboldt Park is home to 62,600 residents and is anchored by the 207-acre green space of Humboldt Park. Always an entry point for immigrants, the community today has a large Puerto Rican population to the east, a sizable African-American community to the west, and a growing influx of Mexicans. Recent years have seen commercial and residential development along the Division Street Paseo Boricua (Puerto Rican Way) and new revitalization strategies for the Chicago Avenue commercial district.
Pilsen has been a center for Mexican-American culture in Chicago for more than 50 years. Four miles south and west of the Loop, it has excellent access to transportation and major job centers. Thanks to decades of organizing, Pilsen has made substantial progress in housing, education and economic development. Its population of 45,200 is 95 percent Latino and about 42 percent non-citizens.
Data from Digital Excellence in Chicago, Karen Mossberger, July 2009