The Resurrection Project’s mission is to build relationships and challenge individuals to act on their faith and values by creating community ownership, building community wealth, and serving as stewards of community assets.
In 1990, neighbors in Chicago’s Pilsen community began talking with new urgency about the blight, violence, and neglect they saw on their blocks.
Six of the community’s parishes helped residents turn the talking into action when they joined together and each contributed $5,000 in seed money to start a community organization to address these problems. The Resurrection Project, starting with one employee and a community full of concerns, was born.
TRP’s first steps in 1990 involved community organizing work that transformed community residents into empowered community leaders that stood up for their rights: rights to clean and peaceful streets, quality education, and safe, affordable housing.
Residents began winning small victories, successfully bringing Streets and Sanitation out for street cleaning and closing down bars that attracted gang violence. Then, they turned to the next issue: the lack of safe and affordable housing. TRP began to acquire lots and abandoned properties, and developed them into affordable homes for ownership and rent. Community residents also volunteered to teach financial education classes to neighbors, which had been another need identified by the community.
TRP’s Community Development initiative—three interdependent strategies that include Property Management, Real Estate Development, and Financial Services—had begun. Our mission had never just been about bricks and mortars projects and investments in tangible assets. It had been about creating healthy communities through a comprehensive approach that emphasized intangible assets—the community’s people—with equal importance.
What began as a small operation began to grow as TRP’s initiatives and capacity began to expand. The organization achieved a milestone success in 1999, when TRP was named the lead agency for Pilsen in LISC Chicago’s New Communities Program, a national comprehensive community development model advocated by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation. As lead agency for Pilsen, TRP convened over a dozen neighborhood organizations and agencies to form the Pilsen Planning Committee, whose Quality of Life Plan for Pilsen laid out a five-year revitalization plan for the community.
TRP’s real estate development efforts reached a new level of capacity in 2002 with the Casa Puebla project, a $14.8 million development project that created 74 units of affordable housing in Pilsen and Back of the Yards. In 2009, TRP completed Casa Morelos, a $14 million, 45-unit complex. A year later, TRP completed Casa Maravilla, a $20 million complex with 72 units of affordable senior housing. TRP’s latest highlight project is La Casa Student Housing, a $12.2 million college student dormitory designed to incrementally increase the percentage of Latinos earning bachelors degrees. All of these projects represented investments in our target neighborhoods that provided essential affordable housing while transforming the physical landscape.
Meanwhile, TRP’s departments, including Financial Services and Community Engagement, continued to invest in people by offering free programs and services to residents throughout the Chicagoland area. Financial Services was quick to respond to the foreclosure crisis by providing free foreclosure counseling services in addition to its financial wellness and home purchase assistance programs. Community Engagement continued to partner with other organizations to offer free programs in digital access, civic engagement, health and safety, education, and arts and culture.
Together, TRP’s departments work to empower residents and create the healthy communities envisioned by concerned neighbors back in 1990. Today, more than two decades later, TRP has turned their initial $30,000 seed fund into over $346 million in community investment in the form of homes for ownership, rental housing, and community facilities (including two child care centers) in its target neighborhoods of Pilsen, Little Village, and Back of the Yards. As the need for neighborhood revitalization grows in neighborhoods in the western suburbs, TRP will work with partners to implement our comprehensive community development strategy in new neighborhoods to help more of our neighbors.
What started in Pilsen in 1990 has now grown into an organization that will serve thousands of people across the Chicagoland region.