North Lawndale residents say mortgages, loans still out of reach in some African American communities

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Residents of the North Lawndale neighborhood shared their modern day struggles of getting a mortgage.

On Martin Luther King Day, many are reminded of his work in Chicago to address unfair housing practices.

Even today we see how some are fighting to stay in North Lawndale, a neighborhood Dr. King once called home.

MLK Jr.'s fight for affordable housing continues in Chicago's predominately African American neighborhoods
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It wasn't until the 60s when Chicago's discriminatory rental practices got the attention of Dr. Martin Luther King, who once called North Lawndale on the West Side home.

Princess Shaw still watches out for her neighbors. She grew up in her grandparents' home on West Grenshaw Street.

"I am a third generation Lawndalian," she said.

Shaw now rents in another part of North Lawndale, but wants more and has been trying to buy a home.

"It's been heartbreaking, it's been devastating," she said.

The mother of two works a full-time job, but said over the past five years she's been turned down at least 10 time for mortgages on North Lawndale homes.

"Every time you go you get your hopes up like, 'Yes, I'm finally going to make it. This is it, this is the one,' just to be let down," Shaw said.

Shaw said the lenders look at the addresses and often suggest moving out of the neighborhood.

"They don't care about the simple fact that the people who are going to move in actually care that's already been here," she said. "Some people don't care about their history, but I do."

Dr. Martin Luther King is part of that North Lawndale's history. In 1966, he and wife Coretta moved into an apartment at 15th and Hamlin to draw attention to unfair housing practices.

In 1966, King Jr. and his wife Coretta moved into an apartment at 15th and Hamlin in Chicago's Lawndale neighborhood.

In 1966 thousands of African Americans came to Chicago during the Great Migration. Most of them were renters because of a practice called redlining, which made owning a home nearly impossible for them.

The term got its name because of the federal agency which governed home loans shaded areas of the Chicago map in red to indicate predominately African American neighborhoods. Lenders were then advised to refuse loans in those red shaded areas.

The red on Chicago's map indicated predominately African American neighborhoods, known as redlining.

North Lawndale was among the areas packed with black and brown residents living in dilapidated apartments.

Redlining is illegal now but some say the hurdles to homeownership still remain.

Apriel Campbell tried for nearly three years to get a mortgage as a first time home buyer.

"I think the institutional racism or redlining just manifests in a different way," she said. "It's just upgraded to a 20th century way."

Campbell is a millennial with a full time job and her own business. She said she was also urged to move out of North Lawndale, but persisted.

She said a local realtor advised her to get better documentation to prove her solid finances. Eventually she found a lender that understood the potential in the neighborhood and wasn't going to steer her away.

She recently moved into her newly purchased home.

"I have a bathroom in my bedroom. I don't think I ever could have imagined that. I feel empowered, I feel like I'm breaking generational curses," she said. "I grew up in this neighborhood. I attended schools in this neighborhood. I'm not just gonna talk about it, I'm gonna be about it. I planted my roots, bought a condo here. I'm ready to fight for North Lawndale, to revitalize it."

As for Shaw, she said she's going to keep fighting for her community as well.

"I'm not going to give up. As my grandmother would say, 'Where there is a will there is a way.' I'm going to keep trying," Shaw said. "Something is going to come through. I'm really positive about that."

RELATED: Building A Better Chicago: Affordable housing resource guide

Shaw said each time she applies for a mortgage, there is a credit check and those credit checks have an impact on lenders considering her for a loan.

What worked for Campbell was finding local people to help her through the process.
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