On Sunday, January 19, IMAN mobilized close to two dozen of its key leaders and organizers to be part of a larger direct action organized by United Power for Action and Justice. Packing Ascension Church in Oak Park, organizers put forth three major policy-related asks to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who was also in attendance. IMAN joined the action as a member organization of the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) and in order to continue its long time organizing commitment to confront the issue of foreclosures in low-income neighborhoods such as the one IMAN is situated in. One of the three policy-related asks that day centered on the housing crisis in our Marquette Park neighborhood.
Over the years, IMAN has invested a tremendous amount of time and resources in confronting the consequences of this issue and proposing creative, viable and community-based solutions to it. Both the Multifaith Housing Reclamation Campaign that IMAN convened with the Jewish Council of Urban Affairs and its Green ReEntry program emerged out of the thrust to offer organizing and programmatic responses to this complex and pervasive challenge faced by low-income communities in Chicago and in other urban centers around the country.
One of the culminating moments of that day in the Church centered on a powerful testimony that IMAN leader and Project Restore Industries president, Rafi Peterson, offered about our collective effort to acquire, rehabilitate and repopulate vacant and vandalized properties in and around the IMAN community. The Governor pledged to invest three million dollars in the state’s work with major organizations in the area to further develop and rehabilitate these properties. IMAN is hoping to work with SWOP and leverage some of these resources to increase its Green ReEntry work, as needed to meet the scale of the housing challenge in the area.