03/22/2017, 11:38am

Neighborhood centers a key to ending city violence

I applaud former U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon for his ideas to make Chicago a “better place” with respect to violence.  And I am especially supportive of his notion that creating new youth pathway centers deserves to be a vital part of the mix. The Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives and our partner Roseland Youth Center have been working to raise funding to jumpstart construction of such a center on the far south side. The benefits from having a safe, supportive alternative to the streets to acquiring new skills and experiences necessary for new opportunities can only accelerate the renewal Pullman is experiencing.

We view community centers as essential building blocks for neighborhood renewal. They attract people to the community and serve as valuable economic development tools. Investment in these centers and the additional opportunities they spark have been instrumental in reducing crime and reversing population flight. But actually building these centers requires more than bricks and mortar; it depends on strong public/private partnerships between the neighborhood and community developers. And if I could add one thing to Mr. Fardon’s open letter, it would be that. It’s only when communities get actively involved and invest in their future that “afflicted neighborhoods” can start on the road to good health.

David Doig
President, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives

Former U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon, in a letter he released after stepping down from his post, noted that brick-and-mortar community centers can be part of the solution to Chicago's high crime rate. / Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times