Saving South Bend
By Rachel Stewart
South Bend, Indiana, like other small cities across the country, has faced its share of hardship. A drive through its historic neighborhoods hints at the once prosperous residents who built homes during the economic boom of the last century. But time, factory closings, company relocations and circumstance have taken a toll on the northeast Indiana community. Once grand houses now stand empty and crumbling, waiting for the wrecking ball.
But residents of South Bend have refused to let their community fall into disrepair. Many are dedicated to restoring the grandeur of the city by buying old, rundown houses, fixing them up and then renting or selling them. Unlike real estate speculators or house flippers, the residents aren’t looking to make a quick profit.
Chapin Park, Inc., formed in 1972 to preserve the historic integrity of its neighborhood, has taken on a new mission of rescuing abandoned properties from demolition. The group relies heavily on volunteer labor, and citizens of the community scrub, hammer, spackle, polish and paint until the houses are reconditioned and ready for the market
While other cities struggling to undo the damage of the housing and foreclosure crisis, tear down abandoned, blighted properties, the ordinary citizens of South Bend have come together to save their community from the wrecking ball.