Revitalization plan offers free homes to City workers in ‘endangered communities’ where they work

CHICAGO -- A new proposal that will be introduced to the Cook County Board Monday would offer homes to City workers in what Commissioner Richard Boykin describes as "endangered communities."

Called the "Neighborhood Revitalization Act," Boykin's plan would offer a free home to first responders, police, fire fighters, teachers, and paramedics and EMTs in the communities where they work. If the worker agrees to live in the residence for five years, he or she will be given the property.

Boykin said the plan could help clean up and diversify Chicago communities in need on the South and West sides.

"These are the communities where we’ve seen a lot of gun violence, we’ve seen a lot unemployment and of course poverty. We’ve got to rebuild these communities," Boykin said. "If you have a policeman who lives on your block we believe that the chances for an individual dealing drugs go down, diminish greatly."

Targeting areas in Austin, West Garfield Park, Auburn Gresham, Englewood and Back of the Yards, Boykin said the program could also help tackle the city’s gun violence problem.

"Already nearly 200 people shot and we’re not even 23 days into the new year. 200 people shot, nearly 80 people killed already. Something is wrong in the city of Chicago and we must do something about it," Boykin said.

There’s also an economic component to the plan. Boykin says the homes that the workers would move in to would be new or rebuilt properties. He wants to provide tax incentives so that the construction companies hire young Chicagoans between the ages of 16 and 25.

"We will require developers to hire 30 percent of at risk children who live in those at-risk neighborhoods," Boykin said.

Boykin’s program will be introduced Monday as a County ordinance. Mayor Emanuel's office says the city is on board.