On Saturday, November 12, 54 people from 16 member organizations of United Power for Action and Justice (UPAJ) and a handful of allies gathered in 36 degree weather and blessed the land, marking the beginning of construction of new Nehemiah homes in North Lawndale.

UPAJ has a commitment from Mayor Lori Lighfoot to donate vacant lots owned by the city in four areas: North Lawndale, Back of the Yards, Roseland and Chicago Lawn where UPAJ will build 2,000 Nehemiah homes for first-time Black and brown homeowners.

To date: UPAJ has raised $32.55 million from private and public sources to begin building the first 250 homes.

The inspiring mix of speakers was one of the highlights of the day- two pastors from Lawndale Community Church that have been on the periphery and were engaged and two new leaders from the Homeowners Association, just to name a few. A leader from UPAJ, Shangwe, gave a good overview of where the project stands today and what lies ahead for the project.

The day ended with a call and commitment from each institution to come back together on December 15th to plan a strategy to engage the key power players as the next year begins.