January 19, 2011. Home Liberation Day 1.
Liberate the South Side’s January 19th home liberation was a success! More than 30 South Side community leaders, neighbors, and a number of clergy met at the corner of 87th on Kenwood during an afternoon snow flurry before liberating a vacant home for a displaced family. Reporters, local news cameras, and photographers gathered around the group to document the rally lead by Pastor Vance of St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church and the new tenants of the liberated home. In the moments leading up to liberating the home there was so much joy and excitement, that participants barely noticed the cold brisk winds stirring.
The home had been vacant for two years and neighbors of the liberated home immediately welcomed the family onto their block. A group of neighbors presented the new tenant, a single mother of four, with housewarming gifts. Humbled, she stated to crowd “My name is Tene Smith. I am a single mother. I work two part-time jobs to support my family. I am an artist and welding student. The banks were bailed out and given a second chance. I believe that working families should be given a second chance as well, to have gainful employment and affordable housing. I want to say thank you to everyone for giving me and my family this chance.”
“Thousands of people are homeless in Chicago, while tens of thousands of properties in our city sit vacant,” says Rev. Thomas Gaulke of Trinity Lutheran Church. “The negligence and fraud of Wall Street should lead to the arrest and prosecution of bankers and the bankruptcy of the banks – not the homelessness for our people and blight in our communities.”
Several religious leaders from across Chicago and Northwest Indiana blessed the house, including Pastor Vance and Rev. Gaulke, before Tene hung a special painting she created for her new home.