Millennials buy Englewood homes, help transform neighborhood

Terrell Brown Image
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Millennials help transforms Englewood
If there were a 4,000 sq.-ft. home that you could buy for 10,000, would you buy it Why not It's a bargain.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- If there were a 4,000 sq.-ft. home that you could buy for $10,000, would you buy it? Why not? It's a bargain.

But what if that home was in a neighborhood with some of the worst crime in Chicago? Some millennials are taking advantage of cheap property in Englewood.

ABC7 Eyewitness News Morning Anchor Terrell Brown visited the South Side neighborhood to take a closer look.

Quilen Blackwell and his wife, Hannah, moved into their new home eight months ago, right in the middle of one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago.

For us, especially as a young millennial couple with student loan debt, you can't afford to live on the North Side. So in Englewood, since it is such a depressed market, you can come in and pick up a two- or three-flat building, like this building. We paid $17,000 from Fannie Mae and then we had to fix it up," Quilen Blackwell said.

With a rehab loan, the couple paid $136,000 total for the entire building and the cost of the renovation - a big bargain. But at first, they admitted, there were doubts.

"Are people going to accept me? Am I going to stick out too much? It was actually the police who had more questions for me about why I was there than the community members. They just welcomed me in," Hannah Blackwell said.

"We feel very safe. We feel very, very comfortable. Part of the reason why we feel so comfortable is because it's been so easy to build relationships with our neighbors," Quilen Blackwell said.

Glen Fulton, head of the Greater Englewood Community Development Corportation, hopes other millennials will do the same.

"The millennials are that next longevity that we're looking for, that come to an area, be in that area for 40-50 years. That's how you change a community," Fulton said.

Fulton showed ABC7 home after home at rock bottom prices, like a four-story home just purchased for $30,000. Another home in Englewood, an 1882 Queen Anne-style house has all the original woodwork and stain glass still intact.

"A lot of people are rather surprised when they see what we have here. We've got some great graystones. We've got some great Queen Anne homes. Here's the opportunity for you to come right now to come into a community that in 5-10 years is going to be totally different. If you get in here at ground level now, you can see this change and make it happen yourself," Fulton said.

The Blackwells are changing their block. Since they love the outdoors and gardening, neighborhood kids are invited every day to their backyard to pick fresh fruits and vegetables.

There are chickens that produce fresh eggs, a fire pit to hang out and make s'mores and a small basketball court.

"It could give kids a sense of what's possible outside of street life," Hannah Blackwell said.

"Hannah's from Kansas. I'm from Madison, Wis. We're probably the last people you'd think would move into a neighborhood like this. But this is home and I love it, love the people. I really believe it's the people that make the place," Quilen Blackwell said.

For those interested in seeing some of the listings or buying a home in Englewood, visit, where Fulton's contact information is listed. He can send potential home-buyers information about available properties.