‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Roseland

Roseland was once known as the “jewel of the South Side,” but residents are now facing the challenges of disinvestment and violence, leading businesses in the area to shut down.

 Despite the neighborhood’s challenges, there has been an ongoing push to provide residents with resources and new opportunities.

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“Z” Scott of Chicago State University, has been the president for four years and says her goal has remained to help students from underrepresented communities attend college, even more now amidst the pandemic.

“In addition to getting our students through the pandemic we are providing better access to college,” Scott said. “For example, our freshmen can come to Chicago State for free in what we call our Rise Academy, it’s a comprehensive set of services that include technology, counseling. Really intensive advising focusing on the first-year experience and getting them into sophomore year.”

The university says it has launched programs and scholarships aimed at helping African-Americans and Latinos with their education and workforce preparation.

Scott says the last two years have been challenging and despite seeing a decline in enrollment, she says they’re rolling out resources to help students obtain their education.

“We have seen a decline in undergraduate enrollment, but we saw an uptick in our graduate enrollment and that’s across the nation,” Scott said. “We saw students who were thinking about this as an opportunity to rescale and really take another direction in their career.” 

The pandemic has also taken a toll on nearby Roseland Community Hospital. A few years ago, the hospital was struggling to stay afloat due to lack of state funding. The pandemic has exacerbated that need.

“And now with [COVID] cases decreasing, we need funding to cover expenses that COVID left behind,” said chief medical officer Dr. Khurram Khan. “We have an enormous debt and the need is dire.”

Video: Watch our full interview with Khurram Khan

More than 70% of their hospital patients are on Medicaid, according to Roseland Community health officials. Their efforts are also going toward making Roseland’s medical district stronger so patients don’t have to travel far from their community to receive health care due to being one of the few hospitals on the South Side.

When it comes to seeking change in the community, Andrea Reed, executive director at the Greater Roseland Chamber of Commerce, has been on the front lines.

Reed has worked on extending the CTA’s redline, helping to offer low fare rates and stop the violence that’s been taking a toll on businesses in recent years.

“We come from decades of disinvestment,” Reed said. “We can’t throw money at this situation; it’s more than just fixing up a building. There are challenges that we face that go beyond money. There are lives involved here and there’s people who have suffered from unresolved trauma. Hurting people, hurt other people.”

Leaders at Chicago Cred know all too well the obstacles people face in the neighborhood. The organization works to put an end to gun violence with face-to-face outreach while using their own experiences to help people in the neighborhood choose a different path.

Outreach supervisor Terrance Henderson says there’s a variety of obstacles the community faces involving drug abuse, the increase of military weapons in the area, and emotional trauma.

“One of the biggest things that I really think is affecting the community is the lack of expression,” Henderson said. “Many of these individuals are holding everything in that they did in their lifetime.”

Alderman Anthony Beale of the 9th Ward says he’s creating opportunities by renovating and bringing to life new projects for residents and youth.

One of those projects is a so-called “cop house” — a community-oriented policing home — to battle violence. It’s expected to open in the summer.

“It’s going to be a community house where people can go and learn.  It’s going to be a safe haven for the community. We’re working with Cred. We’re going to have the city bring all their resources, it’s going to be a one-stop shop,” Beale said. “We’re putting it in one of the most troubling areas in the community because we are going right to the heart of the problem. Once you get that done, I think you’re going to see it spill out.”

Meanwhile, Diane Latiker, founder of Kids Off the Block, has been focusing her efforts on helping youth from Roseland for the last 19 years. She offers a safe space from her home in Roseland, while offering tutoring, mentoring, leadership training and more to help decrease violence in her community.

Latiker recently wrote “Kids Off the Block” in hopes of inspiring others.

“I wanted to inspire people to know that I’m nothing special,” Latiker said. “Whatever issues they care about, they can do the same thing. You just need to have the will.”

Video: Watch our full interview with Diane Latiker.

Further down on Michigan Ave., a doughnut gem has remained open for decades.

82-year-old Brutt Bulloch has been running Old Fashioned Donuts for nearly 50 years. He works six days a week and says his shop has become a place to decompress and indulge in a moment of sweetness.

“I like making people smile and they keep coming back,” Bulloch said. “They come every morning on the way to work and on the way home they stop by for more doughnuts.”

Community Reporting Series

“Chicago Tonight” is expanding its community reporting. We’re hitting the streets to speak with your neighbors, local businesses, agencies and leaders about COVID-19, the economy, racial justice, education and more. See where we’ve been and what we’ve learned by using the map below. Or select a community using the drop-down menu. Points in red represent our series COVID-19 Across Chicago; blue marks our series “Chicago Tonight” in Your Neighborhood.

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