Homan Square Art Walk

Spring has sprung! Please join us on Saturday, May 1 from 10AM-12:30PM for an Art Walk with Homan Square neighbors and ArtWest Gallery founder, Alexie Young. We will begin at 3300 W Flournoy at 10, walk to 3439 W Flournoy at 10:45 and walk to 3654 W Lexington at 11:30.

The Art Walk will include:

  • Discussion with Alexie Young on her paintings installed on vacant lots around the community
  • Sunflower planting with NLCCC GROWSS
  • The opportunity to decorate your own community tile
  • And conversations with the architects of the upcoming housing project on the lots

Additional information will be posted to the Foundation for Homan Square Instagram Page. Please reach out to Kevin Sutton (ksutton@homansquare.org) or Lydia Collins (lcollins@iff.org) with any questions.

Homan Square Art Walk Flyer

The Carol Shaw Woodard Fund

Created in memory of Carol Shaw Woodard (1958 – 2021), the oldest daughter of Charles H. Shaw, the founder and guiding force of the development of Homan Square. Like her father, Carol lived with both humility and purpose, applying all her intellect, diligence, and empathy toward a fairer and more peaceful world for all. Your donations will support the Foundation for Homan Square helping families in need and increase opportunity and hope on Chicago’s West Side.

  • To learn more about Carol’s legacy, click here.
  • To donate in Carol’s honor, please click below and select “The Carol Shaw Woodard Fund” from the drop-down.

Public Art Project Launches in Homan Square

This spring, keep your eyes open for vibrant artwork displayed on vacant lots around our community. The Foundation for Homan Square is partnering with ArtWest Gallery founder and artist, Alexie Young, to showcase her 2020 School of the Art Institute of Chicago residency project, “Lawndale Love Letters”. This public art project is the first installation of the FHS Vacant Lot Campaign. 

The FHS Vacant Lot Campaign is a public art project that brings arts and culture activation to currently vacant lots in Homan Square while the lots are being prepared for permanent developmentThe vision for this project is born from the FHS Community Advisory Council, who has emphasized the importance of positive activation on vacant lots while the team of community-based developers from the Foundation for Homan Square and IFF prepare the lots for new homes. Managing the project, FHS and IFF are joined by United Front, a group of SAIC Arts Administration students who provide program support. 

This spring, we are kicking off the Vacant Lot Campaign on three lots in Homan Square – 3654 W Polk; 3439 W Flournoy; and 3300, 3308 W FlournoyStarting Fall 2021, IFF and FHS will develop these lots into 21 units of new construction affordable and disability-accessible housing. However, construction isn’t planned to start until Fall 2021, so while the team assembles all the pieces necessary to build the housing, Alexie Young’s “Lawndale Love Letters” will spread the word about the project as well as her art. 

 The signs will display existing work, as well as new work that is inspired by conversations with Homan Square residents. Via a QR code, the signs will also include information for residents on the upcoming housing developments on the lot. The team will reveal the signs during late-spring virtual and in-person community events. This project will increase a sense of place, walkability and safety in Homan Square by activating vacant lots with bright artwork reflecting the pride of North Lawndale.  

This project is made possible by generous support from Elevated Chicago, a cross-city a collaborative focused on racial equity, arts and culture, climate change resiliency, and public health in Chicago’s neighborhoods. 

Click here to see images: Art Renderings


New Permanent Supportive Housing Project

The Foundation for Homan Square (FHS) is excited to announce the launch of the upcoming Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) development in Homan Square. The project will include the development of 21 new units of affordable and accessible units across three vacant sites in the community, with a focus on providing safe housing seniors and residents with disabilities. The PSH development also links with the start of the FHS Vacant Lot Campaign public art project.   

FHS will be working with development partner, IFF, to use IFF’s successful Home First housing model for this projectIndividuals with disabilities face major barriers when transitioning out of nursing homes and other large institutions to affordable homes in communities of their choice. IFF’s Home First initiative provides an alternative by creating accessible, scattered-site housing specifically for people with a broad range of disabilities. Experienced developers at IFF with long-term commitments to the Homan Square Community will be overseeing the day-to-day design and construction activities, while the Foundation for Homan Square will continue to be the land steward and community liaison. 

The need for affordable and accessible infill housing was elevated by the FHS Community Advisory Council during the 2018 community planning process, when residents emphasized the need for affordable housing for seniors and people with disabilities. The Foundation for Homan Square, which has built 383 units of housing in Homan Square, also maintains a waiting list which numbers over 150 families, demonstrating the need for this projectSince the fall, IFF and FHS hosted six outreach meetings to gather feedback from the Homan Square community.  

The project will increase the stability of the neighborhood and ensure that long-time residents of Homan Square can remain while other development comes to the community. The stability of the Homan Square campus signals to investors and partners the potential for success in developing additional surrounding assets, all critical to equitable housing, education, and healthcare. 

Construction is scheduled to begin in Fall 2021, with expected move-in for residents to begin in June 2022. Employing Local and Minority Business Enterprises hire is high priority for FHS and IFF, with goals of exceeding City of Chicago threshold requirements. Updates on job fairs and hiring opportunities will be posted to the FHS website as well as local construction channels.  

This project was made possible by the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s Permanent Supportive Housing grant.  

New York Times: Former Sears Complex Returns as a Beacon in a Chicago Neighborhood

When Sears filed for bankruptcy last fall, many Chicagoans found themselves reminiscing about its glory days, particularly in North Lawndale, on the city’s West Side, where the retailer’s original headquarters still stand.

Built in the early 1900s, the site was the nerve center of Sears’s national mail order business. One of the largest and grandest industrial complexes in the United States, it was where products were made and the store’s catalog was printed. Features included an elaborate garden and a 14-story neo-Classical tower that broadcast the company’s radio station, WLS, which stood for World’s Largest Store.

continue reading on NYT website

Stronger, Together: Letter from the Executive Director

Dear Friends,

Chicago is going through challenging times. The city’s place in the national spotlight is often focused on our worst moments. Despite the well-publicized problems, there are good things happening in every neighborhood. The story of Homan Square stands out as a time-tested example of how much can be accomplished in collaboration and community. We are clearly stronger together.

Over the past year, we have relied on our solid foundation while creating a new infrastructure for the Foundation for Homan Square. IFF (formally Illinois Facilities Fund) has assumed management of all the properties on the campus after years of dedicated stewardship from the Shaw Company. A new board and new plans are in place and the future for Homan Square looks exceedingly bright.

Our campus partners continue to amaze with their innovative and insightful programs. Whether addressing the needs for first-time home buyer assistance or providing computer training for young people, our providers and their team members are bringing people together to reach their full potential and enrich their lives.

As we explore future community development opportunities in and around Homan Square, several truths guide our work. First, the efforts of dedicated and generous supporters from across Chicago that made Homan Square possible have stood the test of time. Homan Square is permanent and impactful. Second, we know we are stronger together and that community residents, allies, partners and supporters from near and wide can continue to build on this legacy for the betterment of North Lawndale.

Homan Square was developed from a vision of compassion and community that together we can make the world a better place than we found it. Thank you for sharing and building that vision with us.

Kevin Sutton
Executive Director, Foundation for Homan Square

2018: New plans, partners, and momentum

With a new board of directors, dedicated partners, and a timely strategic plan, the Foundation for Homan Square (FHS) is on strong footing to build from our many successes. We have completed the transition of property management teams from The Shaw Company to IFF (formally Illinois Facilities Fund, now serving the Midwest from six regional offices), a well-respected community development financial institution. The Greater Homan Square Strategic Development Plan has been created to focus FHS and our community partners on a shared vision for development that contributes to an income inclusive, healthy community.

“The Shaw Company has done an amazing job for the past twenty years helping us manage our properties at Homan Square,” said Kristin Dean, Chairperson of the Foundation for Homan Square Board. “IFF will be a great and resourceful partner as we work to inspire economic development in the broader Homan Square community.”

“The remarkable, 25-year transformation of Homan Square is rooted in the vision and commitment of community leaders, the Foundation for Homan Square and Shaw Development,” said Kirby Burkholder, President of IFF’s Social Impact Accelerator. “The FHS-IFF partnership honors that incredible legacy and looks to build on it by committing IFF’s full suite of resources — our financing, real estate tools, and research capacity—to further realize the Homan Square community’s vision.”

The new strategic plan developed with the Community Advisory Council and Homan Square Leadership Council has several key goals:

  • Explore opportunities for development within an expanded Homan Square footprint;
  • Develop quality housing across the spectrum of affordability;
  • Develop mixed-use and commercial projects that provide space for community programming and local businesses; and
  • Inspire potential investment in specific projects within the larger Plan.

These goals will guide the work of IFF and FHS as they work to extend the original vision of Homan Square and meet new challenges and

Homan Rails Farm nurtures collaborations

Since the first seeds broke through the soil, the Homan Rails Farm has inspired collaborations for work, education, and healthy eating. The latest partnership has developed as Gardeneers becomes the new manager of Homan Rails Farm. Gardeneers is a Chicago nonprofit providing full-service, customized school garden programs. Their partnership with DRW College Prep has earned a $40,000 grant from The Noble Network of Charter Schools that will be used to provide a farm to table food program for the North Lawndale community.

With this support, Gardeneers will develop and implement with DRW a curriculum focused on food production and entrepreneurship. Students will help harvest fruits and vegetables and provide affordable, healthy food options to the North Lawndale community through a farm stand and community workshops facilitated by Gardeneers.

”We will increase programming and use the Homan Rails Farm as an integral part of the DRW science curriculum,” said May Tsupros, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Gardeneers. “This grant helps us to activate this very large farm space across the street from the school for students to grow thousands of pounds of food for the school and the community each season.”

A farm stand managed by DRW students and a Gardeneers Farm Manager opened this Fall. Produce will be made available for community members for free once a week after school until the end of the Fall harvest.

Family Focus Forever

No organization has been a stronger or longer-lived partner at Homan Square than Family Focus Lawndale. Family Focus is an original partner at Homan Square and has consistently partnered with other Homan Square providers to promote the well-being of children from birth by supporting and strengthening their families in and with their community.

Family Focus offers after-school activities, doula services for expectant mothers, early childhood home visits, support workers for families involved with DCFS, and a Power of Fathers program that helps fathers develop positive parenting skills.

The Foundation for Homan Square sponsored the Family Focus year-end picnic for program participants. The Family Focus-Homan Square partnership continues to thrive. Special thanks to Bev Hayford for her generous support.