If ever there was a community in need of economic development, it’s West Englewood.

It’s riddled with vacant lots. Those that aren’t turning to swamps or being used as fly dumps are littered with rubble, broken glass, plastic bottles, and piles of soiled clothes. Since the beginning of 2008, more than 1,300 properties have been foreclosed on here, and countless homes are boarded up, vacant, or clearly occupied by squatters. The roads and sidewalks are crumbling; on the side streets you can hear cars rattling over potholes a block away. On the major thoroughfares, like Damen or 63rd, most of the storefronts still standing are boarded up, gated off, or both—even the liquor stores and churches. At the corner of Damen and 62nd, an abandoned car is parked at an abandoned service station.

The city of Chicago has a program to eradicate blight and stimulate new development. Between 2004 and 2008 it spent about $1.5 billion in property tax dollars on communities Mayor Daley and his aides designated as needing a shot in the arm.