Jasmine Gonzalez: “It takes a village”

IL Latino News


Hogar, dulce hogar!

For many people of color in the U.S., the dream of homeownership can often feel out of reach. Despite advances in civil rights and anti-discrimination laws, systemic barriers and economic disparities continue to make it difficult for people of color to own a home.

In all states, Black, Hispanic, and Native American households have lower rates of homeownership compared to white households. Similarly, Asian households are less likely to be homeowners in every state except Hawaii. Although the extent of these racial homeownership disparities may differ from state to state, their prevalence nationwide highlights the necessity for coordinated efforts at both the state and federal levels to close these gaps.

Brighton Park Neighborhood Council is an intergenerational community-based organization dedicated to equity and racial justice. Its mission is to improve the quality of life for the working-class and immigrant populations of Chicago’s southwest side through grassroots organizing and the provision of free and accessible social services and quality programs for youth and adults.

Jasmine Gonzalez, the Housing Counselor with BPNC, was a guest on the program “3 Questions With…” hosted by Hugo Balta, publisher of IL Latino News.

Gonzalez explained the work that BPNC leads. “Our organization focuses a lot on violence prevention, housing stability, a voice for the youth, and many things that help the community grow as one,” she said. In regard to the campaigns the organization leads, BPNC states in its website: “We recognize that systemic inequalities and injustices impact our community members’ lives daily. Thus, we work to advocate for social and economic justice in Chicago’s Brighton Park neighborhood.”

Gonzalez also talked about the Court Based Rental Assistance Program (CBRAP) powered by the IL Housing Development Authority (IHDA)  which assists Illinois tenants and landlords across the state who have pending cases in eviction court. “This program aims to help renters who are in eviction; up to $25,000 in assistance , whatever is passed due or 18 months of rental payments,” she said in addition to educating them about their rights. If approved, Gonzalez said the funding goes directly to the landlord stabilizing housing for both the property owner and renter.

Born in Brighton Park, Gonzalez grew up seeing the struggle in the community, in schools, especially the lack of funding for after-school programs. “It was very much like, walk to school, come back from school, and figure out what to do,” she recalled about her experience in grade school. “(Now) it’s very humbling to see how grateful some people are,” she shared about existing resources making a positive impact in the community.

“My mom has shown me what hard work is,” Gonzalez said remembering coming up in a single parent household. She credits her mother and grandmother for inspiring her to a career in helping others. “It takes a village. These important women in my life; I’ve seen the struggle, but also the amazing strides. You work hard and you get what you deserve,” Gonzalez said.

“3 Questions With…” is co-produced by the Latino News Network (LNN) and CAN TV, Chicago’s hub for community-centric news, hyperlocal stories, and educational resources.

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