Three participants in this summer’s Or Tzedek Advanced Activism session were assigned as interns to the Latin United Community Housing Organization (LUCHA) in Chicago. LUCHA was founded in 1982 by residents of Humboldt Park, West Town and Logan Square to combat displacement and preserve affordable housing in the community.
Working on LUCHA’s campaign to develop 42 units of affordable housing in Humboldt Park with a wellness component, the Or Tzedek interns helped research the urban and community health of proposed sites.
By Natasha Madorsky, Elizabeth Barras and Hannah Kaplan
Or Tzedek Participants
(Cross-posted from the Or Tzedek blog)
LUCHA hosted us as interns for one week in June through a new partnership with JCUA. The three of us were participating in Or Tzedek, which brings teens together to work for social justice throughout Chicago.
During our week at LUCHA, we explored the Humboldt Park community to survey prospective affordable housing sites and speak to local residents about life in the neighborhood. At the end of the internship, we presented our findings and ideas to LUCHA.
Many of our suggestions for LUCHA incorporated the elements of health and wellness into affordable housing programs. We visited Simons Park (In the Humboldt Park neighborhood) and spoke to visitors, as well as the park supervisor, about the wide variety of sports teams, camps and cultural programs offered at the park and community center. We feel that if LUCHA were to build in that neighborhood, fostering a partnership with Simons Park would be essential.
Our internship at LUCHA was certainly an eye-opening experience. We had the pleasure to explore an unfamiliar but vibrant community not too far from our own homes in Wilmette, Evanston and Cleveland, Ohio.
Approaching local residents and hearing their thoughts and concerns allowed us to develop our community organizing skills, as well as gain an insider perspective of what it might be like to live in Humboldt Park. Everyone we met was friendly and welcoming, yet they were very honest with us about the problems and struggles that they face.
» A few spots are still open in the remaining Or Tzedek sessions July 15-22 and Aug. 5-12. Learn more and register here.
When our surveying work was done, we were able to visit the park and enjoy the beautiful lagoon and field house. We all feel lucky to have had the opportunity to work with such an exceptional organization within a unique and culturally rich community.