Building Community Data Capacity: The Southwest Organizing Project

Blog post by Chris Silber
August 2021

Institute for Housing Studies   (Chicago)

For a decade, the Institute for Housing Studies has provided data and technical assistance to the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) to provide a variety of data and inform the organization’s programs, initiatives, and outreach in southwest Chicago. SWOP is a broad-based organization of 45 faith institutions, local schools, and other institutions in the Southwest Chicago communities of Chicago Lawn, Gage Park, West Lawn, West Elsdon, and Ashburn. This blog describes how IHS data has helped SWOP target and rehabilitate vacant buildings after the Great Recession, distribute aid during the COVID-19 pandemic, and conduct targeted outreach to Southwest Chicago residents.

As IHS continues to partner with SWOP, we hope to continue learning about issues SWOP identifies and developing tools to help the organization support its community. In the process, these tools will help us identify changes in community housing dynamics across the region. “It's really helpful to have folks who both have a 30,000-foot view of what's going on in the housing market in Chicago, but also have the knowledge and data about what's happening in our own community and work with us and talk to us about that,” said Chris Brown, the Director of Operations at SWOP.