'Opportunity to have access': Englewood residents get land to build dreams for the community and themselves
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CHICAGO (CBS) —  It is a one-of-a-kind gift that is helping strengthen and beautify one Chicago neighborhood.

CBS 2’s Steven Graves introduces us to one lucky winner and his plans to pour love into his community.

As Dr. Marlon Haywood walks down Loomis near 62nd street in Englewood…

“I had family that stayed in that house, I had family that stayed in that building.”

There are sweet moments of his childhood spent with Grandma come to mind.

“She had a candy store on the block with the candy and the icy cups.”

It’s also where a dream developed.

“I used to walk past the abandoned buildings when I was younger and would say ‘who’s going to be the one to make that change?”

Now at 35 years old, he is a part of that change, walking on his newly owned lot, only feet from where he grew up with his grandma. 

He won the 3,720 vacant parcel this past Sunday, completely free. The Resident Association of Greater Englewood or R.A.G.E. teamed up with the Cook County Land Bank to celebrate Juneteenth. Winners had to own property on the block where the vacant lot was.

“They have the opportunity to have access, just having the opportunity to own something on their block,” said Acquisition Specialist Elisha Sanders.

A standard sized lot of 32-50 square-feet in Englewood can run someone up $3,500.

“At the end of the day, we want people to be able to pass along something to their families that’s worth value,” said Aisha Butler of RAGE.

While this is initiative is focused on filling vacant land, there is also a push to address the issue of vacant homes. RAGE estimates almost 50% of housing stock in Englewood is vacant. They help tackle the problem through their Re-UP campaign and other giveaways.

Haywood, a youth mentor, said he plans to bring trailers into the empty lot and convert them into a safe space for young people.

Giving back and building a positive legacy.

“When you come back five years later, you’re going to say ‘wow.’ There is a movement I feel like is about to take place and change this Englewood community.”

In all, 11 parcels of land were handed out for free. The Cook County Land Bank Authority plans to guide new owners in developing the land.

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