Philanthropic Investments Allow 180 Properties to Continue Expansion within the Lake Michigan Region

Darnella takes a break from working for a picture with the crew superintendent
Darnella takes a break from working for a picture with the crew superintendent

With almost $1 million in philanthropic support over the past twelve months, 180° Properties has been able to expand property preservation services throughout the Lake Michigan region, including Gary, Chicago, and Milwaukee.

With this expansion, 180° Properties has now created 49 jobs and has completed 24,982 work orders to protect and maintain 5,970 homes throughout the region.  The enterprise now provides property preservation services in 18 counties: Cook, DuPage, McHenry, Lake IL, Will, Kane, DeKalb, Grundy, Kankakee, Livingston, Iroquois, Ford, Lake IN, Newton, Kenosha, Racine, Walworth, and Milwaukee.

180° Properties seeks to turn around both houses and people.  Darnella Phillips, one of the first employees, has taken advantage of the opportunity.  “I made a 180 degree turnaround,” she says.  “I am not going back, no matter what.”

Like many of her colleagues, Darnella works to overcome her past in order to create a better life for her children.

“I came from the streets, rough areas, crime, and I grew up in it,” she said. “I have four daughters and don’t want them to grow up the way I did. I want them to prosper and do much, much, much greater things than I could possibly imagine.”

180° Properties was launched by two not-for-profit organizations, Mercy and The Cara Program’s employment training Housing Lakefront and The Cara Program, in Chicago.  The enterprise benefits from Mercy Housing Lakefront’s property maintenance expertise.  Together, the partners have created a premier property preservation enterprise dedicated to community revitalization and job creation.

The program hires difficult-to-employ individuals to clean-up and maintain rental and vacant homes.  Crew members paint, provide lawn care, board-up broken windows, clean out trash and provide many other services to maintain these homes and revitalize neighborhoods.

“When the economic crash hit, people and neighborhoods were devastated,” said Cindy Holler, president of Mercy Housing Lakefront.  “We knew we had to respond to provide opportunities and rebuild healthy communities.”

Darnella believes the company is turning around communities.  “I know lots of people who appreciate what we do when we go into these properties and board them up, and clean them out. The neighbors, especially the more established ones, are so grateful.”

While 180° Properties is a self-sustaining social enterprise, expansion requires capital.  Each new three-person crew must be hired, trained, and equipped with a van, tools, and supplies before they can begin to preserve homes and generate revenue.  As a result, 180° Properties’ regional expansion would not have been possible without philanthropic support.

Over the past twelve months, almost $1 million in philanthropic support was provided by several organizations, including Founding Funder JPMorgan Chase Foundation.  “This is a high impact venture,” said Ron Zinnerman, Vice President of Global Philanthropy for JPMorgan Chase & Co.  “We are proud to support an initiative that creates a way forward for people and communities.”  Additional philanthropic supporters include Bank of America Foundation, Citi Foundation, Deutsche Bank, Denis B. Pierce, Enterprise Community Partners, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Helen Bader Foundation, Housing Partnership Network, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, State Farm, U.S. Bancorp Foundation, and Wells Fargo.