CITY HALL — A package of city subsidies and tax credits to build a 90-unit, six-story affordable housing complex designed to help senior veterans stay off Chicago’s streets is one step away from final approval.
The City Council’s Finance Committee unanimously endorsed the package (O2019-8065) to help A Safe Haven Foundation, a Lawndale-based nonprofit for veterans with substance use disorders at risk of homelessness, build the complex in a largely vacant area near Roosevelt Road and Sacramento Avenue.
Seventy-five of the units would be designated for veterans who qualify for federal rental assistance, while the other units will be leased to those earning less than 60 percent of the area median income. Two of the complex’s units would have one bedroom, while the rest would be studios, Housing Department Financial Analyst Barbara Taylor told aldermen.
Since most residents will be senior veterans, the apartments will be strategically located near Jesse Brown VA Medical Center and the VA Community Referral and Resource Center.
Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) said she was concerned that the units, which come fully furnished and with their own kitchens, were too small.
“We’re not putting our best foot forward,” Hairston said.
The complex would include common spaces including a gazebo, computer room and a lounge, officials said.
Ald. Jason Ervin, whose 28th Ward is home to the the project site, said the development would breathe new life into North Lawndale and the area across from Douglas Park.
“This area has long been vacant,” Ervin said. “This is an enhancement.”
The package set for final approval Wednesday includes $11 million in low-income housing tax credits from the Illinois Housing Development Authority; $1.7 from the city’s Low-Income Housing Trust Fund and approximately $403,000 in Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credits.
“I fully 100 percent support this,” Ald. Nicholas Sposato (38th) said.
The proposal also includes a $4.5 million loan from the Midwest Tax-Increment Financing District, which covers nearly 2,000 acres in North Lawndale and East Garfield Park. That loan is to be paid back during the next 42 years, records show.
In addition, Home Depot will donate $500,000 toward the project and Commonwealth Edison will contribute $133,600 to the development, records show.
In October, the City Council agreed to sell the foundation seven city-owned parcels for the development for $1 per parcel. The properties were appraised at $875,000, records show.
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, according to founder Neli Vazquez-Rowland.
Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said there are too many homeless veterans in Chicago.
“A lot of them just need a leg up to help them get started,” Burnett said, adding that he expected some of the residents to use the complex as temporary housing and move on to bigger apartments.
Burnett said the $21.2 million development would also spur economic activity on the West Side.
“I think it is a great thing,” Burnett said.
Lawndale native William Gross Jr. previously told Block Club 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.
Block Club reporter Pascal Sabino contributed to this report.