NORTH LAWNDALE — A largely vacant area in the 2900 block of West Roosevelt Road is set to be transformed into an affordable housing development serving veterans.
The apartment complex will be built by A Safe Haven Foundation, a Lawndale-based nonprofit that supports veterans struggling with homelessness and substance use disorders.
The building will be a six-story development overlooking Douglas Park to the south with 90 single room occupancy units. Seventy-five of those units will be designated for Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing voucher recipients, while the remaining 15 will be market rate.
A Safe Haven Foundation founder Neli Vazquez-Rowland said she envisions the building to be a contemporary design that can beautify Lawndale while also providing affordable housing.
“The last project that we did, it was a veteran housing project, won architecture awards,” Vazquez-Rowland said. “So we’re very conscientious of making sure that everything we do just really gives dignity and inspiration to everybody in the community.”
Vazquez-Rowland also hopes the apartment complex will help to anchor the neighborhood and draw future investment to the area. The foundation is planning to host public meetings with the support of Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) to engage the community on the development that will be coming to their area.
“It’s just a super, super huge opportunity to be able to bring something that’s going to bring tremendous value and be a great resource for the community, especially for military veterans that desperately need it.”
The land where the apartments will be built is currently vacant, except for a three-story residential building at 1149 S. Richmond Ave. The building will be demolished to clear way for the new apartments. Some of the vacant land at the site was donated by the city to A Safe Haven Foundation for the purposes of veteran housing, Vazquez-Rowland said.
The project is financed by a portfolio of public funders including the City of Chicago and Illinois Department of Housing Authority tax credits, as well as private donors such as Home Depot.
Since most residents will be senior veterans, the apartments are strategically located near Jesse Brown VA Medical Center and the VA Community Referral and Resource Center.
Donald Young is a veteran involved with programs at A Safe Haven Foundation. He said the city is in need of more permanent housing options for veterans like the one that will soon be built.
“They working kind of hard to make sure that we have housing, affordable housing, the subsidized rent, especially for seniors,” Young said. “We want to secure a place to live, you know? No, gangs, no drugs, no nothing. Just live out your life.”
Lawndale native William Gross Jr. said there are many veterans in the area that struggle with problems like substance use disorder, homelessness, depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He hopes areas like Lawndale will see greater investments in the future supporting veterans.
“We seem to have been overlooked, or just taken for granted for, you know, some reasons that really don’t make sense. … I think this is positive for a lot of reasons,” he said.
Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.
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