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 UnBlocked Englewood 

Press Resources

View and download press resources below. To request an interview, please email Angela Pauldine, Director of Communications, Chicago Bungalow Association at

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 UnBlocked Englewood is an innovative art project stabilizing one Greater Englewood block, offering free critical home repairs and block beautification to combat the harm of historic racist housing practices and restore denied equity to legacy homeowners. 

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UnBlocked Englewood aims to demonstrate what it takes to uplift a block after decades of disinvestment by tracing and addressing present day issues triggered by racist housing policies in the 1950s and 60s.

The creator of UnBlocked Englewood is social justice artist Tonika Lewis Johnson, lifetime Englewood resident and creator of the Folded Map and Inequity for Sale projects. Johnson’s Inequity for Sale project, which served as the catalyst for UnBlocked Englewood, draws attention to the history of racist Land Sale Contracts in the 1950s and 60s, and the generations of disinvestment and present-day inequities resulting from this practice. Over the two decades studied, the amount of wealth Land Sale Contracts stole from Chicago's Black community was between $3.4 and $4.3 billion dollars.

The block of 6500 South Aberdeen Street in Englewood, Chicago is the target of UnBlocked Englewood:

  • 22 vacant lots, 24 residential buildings, and approximately 75 residents

  • Direct descendants of families impacted by Land Sale Contracts


The goals of UnBlocked Englewood are to repair and uplift in three ways:

  1. Provide block residents with access to home repair funding and technical support.

  2. Create arts-based physical improvements on vacant lots, co-created with block residents.

  3. Generate public engagement around the work on the block, and what it takes to undo the harmful effects of racist housing policies. 


The vision is that this transformation, which is driven by direct input from residents on the block, will contribute to an upward trajectory for the stability of the neighborhood and the wealth-building capacity of its residents. As the initiative unfolds, it not only addresses the immediate challenges faced by Englewood but also underscores the pivotal role art funding can play in addressing the legacy of historic racism before comprehensive national redress is established.

Achievements to Date

Johnson teamed up with Chicago Bungalow Association as a fiscal sponsor to secure $420,000 in grants for repairing homes and artistically revitalizing the South Aberdeen block. Grant funds to date are as follows:


Currently, 19 residential units in 10 buildings on the block have been rehabbed through these grants.

In addition, weatherization improvements were made available by Chicago Bungalow Association in collaboration with ComEd and Peoples Gas through the Home Energy Savings offering that provides free energy-saving products and services to qualifying customers.

A donation from of outdoor power equipment has been used to maintain vacant lots and sidewalks year-round on the block; a resident on the block is earning a monthly stipend through the Chicago Bungalow Association to maintain the lots.

To date, more than $8,000 to be used for home repairs and artistic revitalization of vacant lots has been raised from individual donors.

What's Next

After successfully rehabbing and weatherizing 10 buildings, the project is set to evaluate and complete work on additional homes on the block requiring urgent rehabilitation, and to continue to update the first 10 homes with cosmetic improvements such as new siding, new appliances, and repainted interiors. UnBlocked Englewood is working to secure between $500,000 to $1 million through grants and partnerships to complete the work.

Englewood Arts Collective is managing artistic beautification on the block. With the help of Alderman Stephanie Coleman’s office, community meetings are being held with block residents to brainstorm and make plans for beautification projects, including a block club sign, gazebo, seating areas, and planters.

Digifé is producing a documentary about the history of Land Sale Contracts on the block and the UnBlocked Englewood project, and a premiere is being planned for June 6, 2024. 

A block party is being planned for June 2024.


January 5, 2024

Repairing homes as a form of public art, Tonika Lewis Johnson helps Englewood reinvest in the disinvested

By Darcel Rockett

Chicago Tribune

January 15, 2024

Project Aims to Repair Englewood Homes, Combat Disinvestment Through the Arts

With Brandis Friedman

WTTW Chicago Tonight

January 25, 2024

How An Englewood Artist And Activist Is Helping Black Families Keep Their Homes

By Atavia Reed

Block Club Chicago

February 26, 2024

Social Justice Artist Fights to Keep Black Families in Chicago Homes

With Adrienne Broaddus

NBC News Now

March 1, 2024

UnBlocked Englewood Repairs Homes to Help Rewrite Decades of Housing Discrimination

ABC7 Chicago

April 10, 2024

A public art project is repairing the damage of racist housing practices in Englewood

By Carrie Shepherd

Axios Chicago

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