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Member spotlight: Garfield Park Community Council

Use this link to read full article in Chicago Cityscape or read below:

A couple of weeks after someone signs up for Cityscape Pro, they automatically get a “two minute” survey which asks them how they use the tools and features. Knowing the professions people are in and how they’re using Chicago Cityscape to help them in their work or to learn about new datasets is important to know because it’s used to guide development of new tools, features, and to prioritize which data to acquire.

Allen Bosbyshell is an Americorps/VISTA staffer at the Garfield Park Community Council and answered the survey this month. He works with GPCC’s Housing Specialist La Shone Kelly to increase affordable housing and prevent foreclosures and demolitions.

“We administer the City of Chicago’s ‘MMRP’ program. Part of my job is to find properties listed on MLS that qualify for the MMRP’s $15,000 downpayment assistance, and then find a buyer who will qualify.”

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 What’s MMRP?

The Micro Market Recovery Program is in designated parts of Chicago that was adopted during the recession to mitigate foreclosures and the impacts of foreclosures on tenants and homeowners in targeted neighborhoods.

All ten of them are mapped in Cityscape’s Maps Explorer.

“The Garfield Park Community Council tracks vacant housing in the neighborhood, by doing site visits as well as meeting down owners in housing court. We come up with a strategy for each troubled property through housing counseling or referring them to further city resources.”

Allen said he doesn’t need Cityscape to see if a property is in the West Garfield Park MMRP because its boundaries are so simple that he memorized them. What Allen uses Cityscape for is to look up property ownership and contact information—a feature for Cityscape Pro members like the GPCC. Cityscape Pro members can easily see detailed property information, including ownership information (blurred in this example).

Chicago Cityscape is able to provide that information to Allen in a simple map and spreadsheet, even narrowing down the properties to only show vacant lots in the West Garfield Park community area.

Additionally, the West Garfield Park Place page shows residents’ reports of vacant and abandoned buildings. Those calls to 311 and reports made via the Chicago 311 app appear on our maps daily. Not only that, but we’ve recently added people’s reports to 311 about flooding in their basements because of a member’s request.

Upcoming event

The Garfield Park Community Council and The Hatchery are hosting an indoor neighborhood market on Saturday, April 13. I went to the neighborhood market in February. Eighty percent of the vendors were small business owners from the West Side. This is a great opportunity to buy delicious pastries (and other foods) and see the inside of The Hatchery.

Posted in Housing