By LINDSAY WELBERS
Cleanslate will begin beautification on the entire 53rd Street Special Service Area (SSA) corridor as early as June 1, managing director Brady Gott said.
The organization helps people who are challenged by homelessness, poverty or incarceration to receive training for long-term employment.
While they are in training for a job they can keep for years, Cleanslate employs interns to remove trash, sweep streets and gutters, remove graffiti and perform general street maintenance work.
The 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing District employed Cleanslate to remove litter, clean sidewalks and maintain the street from 2009 through 2011. The TIF district ended its contract with Cleanslate after the TIF’s coffers were emptied to build Harper Court.
Harper Court currently employs Cleanslate to clean and maintain the area around the newly opened tower.
The SSA has agreed to spend $45,000 for Cleanslate to employ approximately five of its interns to clean the area two days a week. In 2010 the TIF spent $217,000 for Cleanslate to send 30 employees to Hyde Park.
Cleanslate will maintain the entire SSA footprint, which stretches from Woodlawn Avenue on the west, north of 52nd Street and Lake Park Avenue, south down to the 55th Street shopping center and its commercial corridor and as far east as 53rd Street and Harold Washington Park.
The SSA includes the entirety of Nichols Park.
The South East Chicago Commission, its sponsoring organization, will pay for Cleanslate at the outset by using a tax anticipation loan. The SSA will not have any money in its coffers until the 2014 property taxes are collected.
Cleanslate was started in 2005. In that time, Gott said, Cleanslate has helped 400 interns receive training and meaningful work in their communities. Cleanslate has a hiring office in Bronzeville that recruits potential employees from the neighborhood.
Of the people that Cleanslate helps to find meaningful work 75 percent are still employed one year later.