Since 1991, Claretian Associates has developed over 130 affordable homes and apartments within a 12-block area in South Chicago, returning more than 75 vacant lots to productive use. While providing a range of resources from utility assistance to weatherization programs to affordable, stable, and safe apartments for more than 3,000 families a year, Claretian Associates also supports community empowerment by teaching leadership and connecting residents to jobs, schools, financial literacy workshops, tax preparation services, home buyer education, energy programs, and arts programs. Over 35,000 individuals have benefitted from these services since Claretian Associates opened its doors.
Claretian Associates transforms dilapidated buildings and vacant lots into new multi-family apartments, for-sale single-family houses, and green, open space. Their new homes showcase energy efficiency and green products in a community often known for environmental challenges. In addition to building green homes, Claretian Associates also unites thousands of local residents at their annual Green Summit to raise awareness about environmental issues and solutions for the community.
In addition to high-quality housing options, Claretian Associates offers a range of social services for families in need. They work to unite local and city-wide partners to address issues such as crime, unemployment, housing, arts, and education while creating safe havens where local youth can travel to school without fear of violence. They also create healthy alternatives for families through nutrition programs, gardening, and sports programs.
Claretian Associates creates possibilities for wealth-building through free tax services and financial literacy classes. Their bilingual financial literacy program works with economically disadvantaged families and individuals to educate them about their financial affairs so that they can make the best decisions and be empowered to make lasting changes in their lives. Through a series of workshops, outreach events, and information fairs with topics including credit repair, understanding credit reports, budgeting, building assets, and more, Claretian Associates reaches hundreds of local residents each year.
In 2004, Claretian Associates opened Casa Kirk Apartments to 29 families in need of safe, affordable housing. Claretian Associates developed Casa Kirk in partnership with the Interfaith Housing Development Corporation of Chicago. The project is named for the late Fr. Marty Kirk, CMF, a Claretian priest and one of Claretian Associates’ founders who was dedicated to the unity and revitalization of South Chicago.
Another key project completed by Claretian Associates' Clean and Green Committee is South Chicago People's Park, which is located in three previously blighted lots in the neighborhood. For many years, the site was used as a dumping ground and became overgrown while a leaking water line transformed the area into a virtual swamp.
In 2000, after three years of work, 3,000 resident volunteer hours, and 200 cubic yards of garbage removed, the lots were successfully transformed into the South Chicago People's Park, a community gathering place with flowers, trees, a stage, decorative park benches, and a mosaic mural created by community youth. South Chicago People's Park won the 1999 Chicago Botanic Garden's “Garden of the Year Award” and was awarded the John Deere "Seeds of Hope Award" in 2001—one of only eight parks nationwide to be honored.
Stay up-to-date with the latest news from Claretian Associates, and please consider making a donation to Claretian Associates so that they, along with other tCI programs, can continue to build healthier, safer communities for people of all ages.