Reporting Bernie Tafoya
CHICAGO (CBS) – A non-profit group was out again today trying to make the city better looking–one abandoned building at a time.
The Neighborhood Foundation helps spruce up vacant buildings by putting decorative wood panels over window frames. Today, executive director Chris Toepfer was working on a building on 78th and May in the Auburn-Gresham community.
“A lot of times we do flower pots and I like to throw in some cats.”, Toepfer says.
Toepfer says it’s simple imagery. He avoids painting pictures of people or using words.
Neighborhood Foundation executive director Chris Toepfer says he’s seen a good response in the 17 years he’s been doing the board-ups in Chicago, Milwaukee and New Orleans. He says, “We’ve found that about 90% of the properties we’ve worked on have since been renovated and reoccupied…so it’s a pretty strong correlation.”
Toepfer says no one wants to live next to a vacant house and that, “anything you can do to make it better and more secure, people really appreciate it”.
He says his organization has been recently working with the Chicago Public Schools’ Safe Passages program by decoratively boarding up some abandoned buildings that are near schools.
A recent one he did was on 66th and Parnell and faced May Academy. Two of the board-up panels sport paintings of soccer balls.