Pullman row houses renovated for affordable housing

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Historic row houses in Chicago's Pullman community are being revitalized thanks to money from a settlement with banks involved in the mortgage crisis.

The homes will be turned into affordable housing opportunities for area families.

Some homes, built in what was to be a workers utopia, have fallen far short of utopia in recent years.

"It was drug-infested, gang-infested, but since the development has come through, things have really changed," said Reginald Hughes, resident.

On Tuesday, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced $1.5 million from the National Foreclosure Settlement with several banks would go toward renovating some of the historic Pullman homes.

"We are very, very proud to be part of the revitalization of one of the great neighborhoods in our country," said Madigan.

Thirty-eight homes had already been renovated by Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives and new families are moving in with affordable mortgages.

"Once I saw I fell in love, I was like, 'I have to try it, I have to do it.' Because I'm a first-time home buyer, I wanted something I could enjoy," said Aundrea English, resident.

Decades ago, the Pullman Palace Car Company was a huge draw for jobs in Chicago. Later, the Pullman porters would be catalysts for the great migration as African Americans fled the segregated South in search of peace and prosperity. Now the question becomes: what will Pullman symbolize in decades to come?

Perhaps the history and neighborhood will be preserved in a national park. Congress is currently considering that designation.

In the meantime, Judy LaBuda Rock hopes to preserve her family's history with a new service and culinary training facility. She lived here as a child and her family had a corner store during Pullman's heyday.

"It would be wonderful. I always feel like people kind of stray away from their roots. And I think that, I want to come back home to Pullman and feel safe," said LaBuda Rock.

The Pullman neighborhood that once inspired hopes and dreams continues to do so in a new era.

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