Openlands TreePlanters Enhances Environment, Security at Affordable Apartment Community Near Obama Residence

Residents from the Greenwood Park Apartments and the Kenwood community joined volunteers from Openlands to plant dozens of new trees in open spaces, putting the finishing touches on a  renovation of the 46-year old, low-rise affordable rental apartment complex – the first substantial renovation in the buildings’ history. The tree planting last Saturday at the apartments was designed to enhance the environment, safety and well-being of its residents.

Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) acquired the 122-unit property just blocks from the Obama Residence in 2016 to ensure long-term access to quality affordable housing for working families and individuals in the affluent Kenwood neighborhood. Since acquiring the property, Preservation of Affordable Housing has invested more than $12 million to install new kitchens with energy-efficient appliances, new baths and HVAC systems. Preservation of Affordable Housing has also replaced all roofs and windows and undertaken major structural repairs across all 15 buildings.

An enhanced natural landscape designed to deter and reduce crime in comparable plant-less spaces is an essential component to the renovation and maintenance of all Preservation of Affordable Housing’s properties.    And the Greenwood Apartments site, once filled with healthy Ash trees that in recent years was decimated by the Emerald Ash Borer beetle. The trees were removed in 2016, leaving the site bare until now.

“Studies show that residents with nearby trees and natural landscapes reported 56 percent fewer crimes than buildings with low amounts of trees and vegetation,” said Bill Eager, Senior Vice President, Preservation of Affordable Housing Chicago. “Thanks to the Openlands TreePlanters Grant, Greenwood Park Apartments’ residents will have beautiful new trees that not only improve their environment, but also help make the community safer,” added Eager.

The Openlands TreePlanters Grants, which provide new trees to communities in Chicago and the south suburbs, encourage resiliency both through planting trees and creating or reaffirming a network of neighbors to work together. On planting day, the Openlands Forestry Crew and certified TreeKeepers provided tools, trees, mulch and training for volunteers.  For more information, email trees@openlands.org  or call 312-863-6256.

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