Our mission is to create a viable, mixed-income community in West Haven without the displacement of low and moderate income residents.
Since 1988, the Near West Side Community Development Corporation (Near West) has been organizing and providing supportive services to low and moderate income residents in the West Haven community. Our longstanding work in West Haven gives us a deep understanding of the problems residents face as well as the solutions necessary to improve their quality of life. Near West implements the following services to residents:
1) provides programming in the areas of job preparation, life skills training, and financial literacy
2) offers social services to residents in public housing
3) maintains and develops the area’s commercial corridor
4) offers permanent housing to residents who would otherwise be homeless
5) implements youth programming focused on athletic, artistic, and academic activities
In addition to offering wrap-around services, Near West promotes civic engagement among community members as the lead agency for the New Communities Program under the Local Initiative Support Corporation/Chicago. Near West works with residents to develop, design, and execute sustainable strategies for the comprehensive development of the community. Over the past 10 years, Near West has carried out strategies in rebuilding the neighborhood’s social infrastructure, improving the physical and aesthetic identity, improving access to education for everyone and attracting more jobs to the area.
Near West was born out of West Haven residents’ desire to organize against a proposed plan to build a new Bear’s football stadium in the community. Residents succeeded in their efforts, preventing the displacement of over 1,500 people and the destruction of hundreds of homes. In 1988, the group of community members formally banded together to establish Near West as a not-for-profit organization working to improve the quality-of-life for all residents.
As an organization, Near West began by focusing on community-based strategic planning that resulted in the development of affordable housing, sustainable economic development initiatives, and comprehensive social services. One of Near West’s original programs is Small Accessible Repairs for Seniors (SARFs), which provides minor home repairs to improve senior accessibility as well as ramps for persons with disabilities. In 2000, Near West formed the Home Visitors Program (HVP) to promote personal and economic self-sufficiency for families moving under the Chicago Housing Authority’s Plan for Transformation. HVP became Near West’s social services branch, providing counseling and case management service. In 2001, Near West became the lead agency for the Local Initiatives Support Corporation/Chicago (LISC) in West Haven through the New Communities Program (NCP). As a lead agency, Near West has facilitated two resident-led processes for the comprehensive development of the community, such as working with families to implement community-wide events and programs. In 2007, NCP boosted Near West’s efforts to establish a retail development initiative which included a Chamber of Commerce. In the same year, Near West also began offering baseball to 30 local youth during the summer. Now in its fourth year, Youth Zone Chicago serves over 700 youth annually with structured programming focusing on a variety of academic, athletic, artistic and mentoring activities.
Board of Directors
Near West Side Community Development Corporation (NWSCDC) is an organization with a diverse leadership team. It’s Board of Directors is comprised of community residents, business professionals, and non-profit leaders. The following is a list of current members:
Laura Hassen, President
Howard Pizer, Vice President
Shirley Chappell, Treasurer
Willie Wright, Secretary
Edwin R. Dunn