The Daily Northwestern

Community Partners for Affordable Housing works to rehabilitate third Evanston house

Volunteers with CPAH demolish the backyard of a foreclosed and vacant house on Hartrey Avenue.

Volunteers with CPAH demolish the backyard of a foreclosed and vacant house on Hartrey Avenue.

Stephanie Kelly/The Daily Northwestern

Stephanie Kelly/The Daily Northwestern

Volunteers with CPAH demolish the backyard of a foreclosed and vacant house on Hartrey Avenue.

Stephanie Kelly, Reporter

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Eighteen months ago, a 31-year-old Lake Forest resident and her husband bought a house from the Community Partners for Affordable Housing that otherwise would have been too expensive for them to buy.  On Saturday they helped demolish a foreclosed and vacant Evanston house so another family would have that same opportunity.

“People did that for us when we wanted to move back into the neighborhood,” Margaret Allen said. “They worked on our house, and, frankly, I think it’s a solid program.”

CPAH buys foreclosed or vacant houses and resells them at a more affordable price. Volunteers worked at the site on Hartrey Avenue on Saturday for CPAH’s service day and will continue their work on May 31 to complete the demolition.

From there, a contractor will be hired and supervised through CPAH to fix the building.

The nonprofit, which also works in Lake Forest and Highland Park, decided to partner with Evanston last spring. This is the third house in Evanston that CPAH has rehabilitated.

“We go in, we buy houses, we fix them up and we have a really good track record,” said Amy Kaufman, director of community relations at CPAH. “After some conversation, the city decided they wanted to partner with us to work on (affordable housing) efforts.”

Kaufman said there was pressure to get as much work done as possible Saturday because the rented dumpster was so expensive. In the end, the volunteers did not finish as much work as they wanted to, Kaufman said.

“Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs,” Kaufman said.

Most of the work done Saturday was in the site’s backyard. After splitting into groups at the beginning of the day, the group of about 20 took down the pool structure, the shed and rotted wooden structures and cleared broken glass around the lot. They worked for about three and a half hours.

Among the volunteers was Evanston Township High School football player Rei Gaines.

“Coach wanted to find a couple of guys who could come out and give a couple of hours early in the day, so I decided why not,” the junior said.

Gaines said not only would he do it again for the community service, but as a way for the team to bond.

Allen and her husband volunteer whenever they can because Allen said the organization exemplifies what the community is all about. As a homeowner of a CPAH house, Allen said she’s seen what the organization supports.

“It’s just a really nice way to be a part of the community when you otherwise couldn’t afford it,” Allen said. “They really seek people who are interested in the community values, in being a part of the community.”

Twitter: @StephanieKellyM