Barber Shop Show preview: North Lawndale rising

Barber Shop Show preview: North Lawndale rising

This week on the Barber Shop Show we're going hyper-local: we're taking a close look at the neighborhood that surrounds Carter's Barber Shop - the neighborhood of North Lawndale.

North Lawndale has a tough reputation in the city, and it's not hard to see why. It's been called "an industrial slum without industry." Poverty, violence and unemployment are pervasive.

The area has the highest chronic youth unemployment rate in the nation.

It's not better for older folks. Thirty-six percent of those over 45 are chronically unemployed. The median income is a mere $18,342, and the poverty rate is 42.5%, according to the Steans Family Foundation.

Between 2000 and 2008, the median income went down by nearly $5,000 a year, according to census data, and the number of families who couldn't afford their rent or mortgage increased by 40-50 percent.

But while there's a lot to be fixed in North Lawndale, there's also a lot of people creating change.

Those change-makers will be our guests this week, outlining their efforts to improve the neighborhood and make it a place where residents can thrive.

We'll be talking to Charles Leeks, director of Neighborhood Housing Services in North Lawndale, a nonprofit that's striving to help renters and homeowners in the neighborhood. Since 2008, NHS North Lawndale has invested over $12 million in the community, helped 108 families avoid foreclosure and made 45 new homeowners.

This weekend, NHS North Lawndale will host its annual Neighborworks Day that will include a community fair to help residents access local services.

In addition, we'll be talking to folks from North Lawndale's Green Youth Farm, located just a short walk from the shop, and the ReBuilding Exchange, which helps divert building materials headed for the landfill into new projects.

What do you think needs to change in North Lawndale? How can that happen? Tell us your thoughts, and tune in on Friday at noon to the Barber Shop Show on Vocalo, 89.5 FM or at

Missed last week's show? It was our monthly news round table with local journalists Claudia Garcia-Rojas and Whet Moser.

© Community Renewal Society 2012

Photo credit: David Schalliol

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