HUMBOLDT PARK — A plan to use Tax-Increment Financing (TIF) money to renovate Humboldt Park Residence, a single-room-occupancy building that hasn’t seen any upgrades since it was built nearly 25 years ago, is moving forward.
The 65-unit building at 1152 N. Christiana Ave. is on track to receive $3.8 million in TIF dollars. City officials earlier this week approved the allocation. It moves to the full City Council next for final approval.
In total, the renovation project is expected to cost about $13.4 million, according to the city’s Department of Housing.
Juan Carlos Linares, executive director for LUCHA, the nonprofit housing group that oversees the building, said his organization is partnering with tax credit equity partners to help make up the rest of the funding.
LUCHA constructed the building in 1995 using tax credits, according to Linares. Once its tax credit life expired, the building began to suffer from deferred maintenance.
“The building has aged well, but it has aged,” Linares said.
Under the renovation project, the building will get new lighting and plumbing systems, among several other upgrades. The community room will also be expanded.
“The building is coming into modernization and we’re preserving affordability for our tenants,” Linares said.
Linares said the latter is especially important in gentrifying Humboldt Park.
“The area has been facing housing pressures for a very long time,” he said. “What we see is affordability has become a real issue in the area.”
Betty Cooper, 61, has been living in the building for about five years. Cooper regularly participates in activities held in the community room and helps out her neighbors when she can.
“It’s a real community over here, you know?” she said of the building.
“I like the way they have it set up. It’s affordable. It’s close by transportation. They offer a lot of programs.”
Though Cooper is looking to move into a bigger place to accommodate her extended family members, she said she’s glad to see the building undergo renovations.
“It needs to be renovated. … The rehab is going to make it better,” she said, pointing to individualized bathrooms as a perk. Many of the rooms currently have a jack-and-jill bathroom configuration. Under the renovation project, residents will get their own bathrooms.
Single-room-occupancy buildings are typically made up of one-bedroom units geared toward low-income residents.
In 2014, the city moved to preserve SROs with an ordinance after several of them were being bought and converted into luxury housing.
Under the ordinance, property owners looking to sell must negotiate with affordable housing developers first before entertaining offers from for-profit developers.
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