HUMBOLDT PARK — Hispanic Housing Development Corporation, the nonprofit developer behind the troubled veterans building, has big plans for the neighborhood — and ties to Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th).
The developer is now building an affordable housing complex with apartments geared toward families and seniors on the La Casa Puertorriqueña site at 1237 N. California Ave. It’s one of three major Hispanic Housing projects planned for the neighborhood.
Hispanic Housing has since bought the site at 1201 N. California Ave. for $1.2 million, according to Cook County property records. The sale was recorded in February. Roldan said the plan is to build 40 units of family housing on the site.
Roldan also told Block Club in November Hispanic Housing is looking to build an 111-unit senior housing center on part of Roberto Clemente High School’s parking lot.
It’s unclear how Hispanic Housing is planning to pay for these projects, though the developer has a lot of experience developing low-income housing in Chicago. Hispanic Housing has built or improved more than 4,100 homes, apartments and condos since its founding in 1976, according to the developer’s website.
Roldan and other Hispanic Housing executives have either ignored or declined interview requests following a Block Club story on the failings of their veterans building at 1045 N. Sacramento Ave.
In the story, several residents and the former property manager paint a picture of a building so riddled with problems that it hurts the veterans it aims to help.
Three years after opening, tenants don’t have on-site services or basic amenities and they were promised, like working computers. Many of the apartments have large cracks in the walls and some have mold, tenants say.
“Only difference from when I first moved in the building is I actually have a place to stay,” one veteran told Block Club.
“Other than that, I’m still drinking. I still have PTSD. Nothing’s really changed.”
Before the story was published, Roldan wrote an email to a Block Club reporter: “I have been in Colorado Springs since Wed. and won’t be back until next week. I look forward to your ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ article.”
Maldonado’s connection to Hispanic Housing
Maldonado’s 26th Ward includes the veterans building and the other two Hispanic Housing projects that are in the works.
Roldan, the president of Hispanic Housing, first donated to the Humboldt Park alderman a decade ago.
Roldan has donated a total of $9,000 to Maldonado’s campaign since Maldonado was elected alderman in 2009, according to Illinois Sunshine, a website that tracks such donations. Roldan hasn’t donated in recent years, however. The last donation he made to Maldonado’s campaign was in 2015.
In addition to donating to Maldonado’s campaign, Hispanic Housing has donated to a number of different alderman and politicians over the years.
It’s unclear where Maldonado stands on the troubled veterans building and Hispanic Housing’s role in the community. The alderman hasn’t responded to repeated requests for comment.
In January, when a judge approved the $1 million sale of the debt-ridden La Casa Puertorriqueña building to Hispanic Housing, Maldonado told the Tribune he was “very, very, very excited about the sale.”
“I think that this will be a great asset for the Humboldt Park community, which, as you know, has been under threats of gentrification for years. This would be one other block to be able to slow down, to divert and to correct the forces of gentrification,” Maldonado told the newspaper.
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