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New program will curb violence, beautify vacant lots on South and West sides

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“Grounds for Peace” will restore 50 city-owned lots and provide job training for at-risk individuals

The new initiative would restore empty residential looks in neighborhoods including North Lawndale, Woodlawn, and Englewood.
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On Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Grounds for Peace, a new program designed to beautify 50 vacant city-owned lots on the city’s South and West sides.

In addition to eliminating neighborhood blight, which can often contribute to crime, the program will employ and rehabilitate 50 at-risk individuals by providing hands-on job training in the field of landscaping and property maintenance.

“Today, we’re bringing life and opportunities back into community spaces that have been left empty for decades,” said Mayor Lightfoot in a statement. “Transforming our vacant lots into beautiful, open green spaces not only fosters safer streets and stronger communities but also contributes to a cleaner and healthier Chicago.”

For Grounds for Peace, the city partnered with Heartland Alliance’s READI (Rapid Employment and Development Initiative) program and the Urban Growers Collective. The organizers hope the initial $250,000 pilot will become a model for fighting blight and violence in other parts of the city.

The program will bring new landscaping and gardens to lots in Chicago’s North Lawndale, Woodlawn, and Englewood communities. According to the city, these sites were selected based on their proximity to communities with violent crime and high concentrations of city-owned land.