Skip to main content

The Chicago Community Trust Outstanding Community Initiative of the Year

When Claretian Associates developed the 53-unit Villa Guadalupe Senior Apartments in the early 1990s, it was both an answer to the need for affordable housing and a strong statement of faith in the future of Southeast Chicago, which had suffered great disinvestment in the wake of the departure of ‘big steel.’ For well over a decade, Claretian Associates has built a web of relationships and activities that have affirmed the wisdom of that faith.

Continuing their housing development activities in a targeted 12-block area where they have created a total of 126 affordable homes and apartments, Claretian Associates has simultaneously worked with other community partners to undertake housing development projects and services that have enriched lives in the entire Southeast Chicago area. In the process, they transformed a geographic area into a community.

Understanding the need for open spaces, Claretian Associates created a coalition of organizations and block clubs that has successfully preserved and developed park spaces, most notably “South Chicago People’s Park,” which has become a focal point of community gatherings and activity. Similarly, Claretian Associates was the catalyst in the opening of the South Chicago Arts Center, now an autonomous organization, that offers free art programming for children, provides art curriculum for local schools and manages a community garden. Addressing the needs of a diverse and relatively poor population, many of whom are immigrants with limited English skills, Claretian Associates recently created a bilingual financial literacy program to aid families in taking control of their financial futures and building individual and community wealth.

For its creativity, accomplishments and exemplary leadership, Claretian Associates is the recipient of The Chicago Community Trust Outstanding Community Initiative of the Year Award.