Despite Mortgage Crisis, The Resurrection Project Continues Outreach in Pilsen

Photo by Rima Thompson. Alex Morales speaks about The Resurrection Project at Depaul.

Alex Morales of The Resurrection Project (TRP) described a scene at a recent housing foreclosure fair.

It was held in the neighborhood of Pilsen where the community development organization was founded and continues to focus most of its resources.

A group of local homeowners seated at a table were joined by a mortgage lender from a major bank.

Morales said, “the lender was pretty happy to be there,” but when he sat down, all of the homeowners “left their seats with angry faces.”  Although Morales appeared to sympathized more with the residents than the lender, the story illustrated the residual pain resulting from the mortgage debacle.

“With the housing market conditions and consumer confidence down, it’s pretty difficult to sell a home or for some people to find the credit to purchase a home,” Morales said.

He claimed that sub-prime lenders offered adjustable rate mortgages to unqualified buyers without verifying income.  The result was a high number of Pilsen homeowners sitting on “ballooning” mortgage payments and limited options.

In response, The Resurrection Project – the Pilsen neighborhood community development organization – began the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which established partnerships with organizations certified to re-negotiate loans with the goal of keeping residents in their homes.  They also purchased homes from struggling families and allowed them to rent with the potential of future ownership.

“We were reacting to the problem,” Morales explained.

The Resurrection Project’s own financial situation was also affected by the  housing crisis.  In response to a growing number of vacant lots in Pilsen, they began investing in properties.  They created affordable homes, some that Morales now claimed they were “stuck with.”  Nevertheless, the organization boasts several successful ventures in affordable housing including Casa Morelo and Casa Maravilla.

Although The Resurrection Project still makes 50 percent of its revenue from rental income, Morales explained that “holistic development” in human capital will be a central focus in the years to come.  It appears that the homeowners at the foreclosure fair won’t be the only ones walking away from mortgage lenders in Pilsen.

Perhaps in response to the housing mess, Morales explained that they were changing direction.

“We are looking not to brick and mortar, but human capital,” he said.  “We are investing in people.”

Although The Resurrection Project continues to work on loan modifications and affordable housing, two career development programs will have Morales looking to a more promising future.  In cooperation with Mujeres Latinas En Accion, The organization will help single mothers go to school and pursue successful careers.

They have also built La Casa – an affordable dorm for college students in the predominantly Latino neighborhood.

Morales hopes this dorm will help “create the next wave of community leaders.”


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