CHICAGO (CBS) — Some buildings in the Chatham community sit abandoned, but some colorful paint has made all the difference.
As CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reported, the murals represent a possible solution to a problem plaguing many Chicago neighborhoods.
The vacant corner storefront at 79th Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive had been an eyesore.
“The windows were broken there was trash,” said Lori Burns. People were just kind of hanging around.”
And the storefront remains vacant, but it’s been beautified with a mural.
“To see this now is just wonderful – something to be proud of,” Burns said.
Burns is a South Sider who volunteers for the Neighborhood Foundation, a nonprofit that beautifies abandoned properties – including that very storefront.
She is also a friend of Clifola Coleman’s. Coleman helped CBS 2 expose the chronic blight and problem properties on the 7100 block of South Champlain Avenue.
Burns and Coleman both attended community meetings Wednesday at a South Side library. One of the hot topics was abandoned buildings and the issues we investigated.
“People are trespassing in there doing God knows what, and that’s what we want to eliminate,” a police officer said at the meeting.
And those in attendance gave Coleman a new nickname – the “abandoned buildings queen.”
“Clifola Coleman was on Channel 2 News talking about the abandoned buildings on her block,” the meeting organizer said.
The organizers implored people to call 311 about problem properties. But even then, it could be years before a building is cleaned up or demolished.
So the question is, what do you do in the meantime?
If you’re like Burns, you get your hands dirty. Just in the past few years, her neighborhood foundation worked on two vacant properties near the Henry O. Tanner Elementary School at 74th Street and Evans Avenue.
“Nobody wants their kids walking past that on the way to school, and when you’re looking out the window, you want to see something that’s inspiring, not something that’s depressing,” Burns said.
So maybe a little paint and a few hours of time can solve an ugly problem.