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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

Irving Park Will Be Home To The City’s First Affordable Housing For Native Americans

The development will include apartments, culturally sensitive social services and a rooftop for Native American cultural practices.

Horner Park and the Chicago River as seen from above the Irving Park neighborhood on Nov. 16, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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IRVING PARK — City leaders are backing Chicago’s first affordable and culturally tailored housing for Indigenous people and families.

The development will be located at 2907 W. Irving Park Road, where Irving Park and Albany Park meet, an area where the cost of housing has been increasing over the last several years. It will be close to Native American institutions such as the American Indian Center and the American Indian Health Services of Chicago.

The housing is among 24 affordable developments receiving $1 billion in city support, through low income housing tax credits.

The project was borne from a partnership between the Native-led nonprofit Visionary Ventures, and Full Circle Communities, an affordable housing nonprofit.

Shelly Tucciarelli, Visionary Ventures President and Oneida Tribal Member, said she tried to promote affordable housing for the Native American community for years before propose this project to Full Community Circles.

A University of Illinois Chicago showed three out of five Native American households are renters, and more than half of them are rent burdened, Tucciarelli said.

“Chicago has always been an Indian land and it has a vibrant Native community,” Tucciarelli said. “The community is facing unique housing challenges.”

Lindsey Haines, senior vice president of Full Circle Communities, said Visionary Ventures reached out to explore a partnership four years ago.

“This development will deliver long-awaited affordable housing, amenities, and wrap-around services while complementing the tremendous community development work happening in Chicago’s Native community,” she said.

The ground level will host a 3,500 square foot commercial space offer for a potential health clinic, on-site management, on-site supportive services, community room and kitchen, on-site laundry, tenant storage, and free on-site parking for vehicles and bicycles. There will be studio, one, two, and three-bedroom units.

There will also be a rooftop garden as a space for Native American cultural practices, Tucciarelli said. When not living in a reservation, she said, it’s harder to pass down the culture without space where the elders can continue their teachings.

“Being able to have like a circular ceremonial area where we can do drums and teach our youth to continue our cultural traditions, is very important,” she said.

The development will also serve as a communal and shared place for the Native Americans community, Haines said.

“The community is large, but is very dispersed,” she said.

Once the developer submits a formal proposal, it will undergo Ald. Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez’s (33rd) community approval process. Full Circle Communities is still in the preliminary stages of drafting plans of how tall the building would be, how many units it will have and what kind of remediation the empty lot will require, Haines said.

As a candidate and alderperson, Rodriguez-Sanchez has routinely pushed for affordable housing in the Northwest Side. The Irving Park project is the second development in her ward that has been awarded this type of tax credits. 

“We are very excited about about the possibility of having affordable housing in that area,” Rodriguez-Sanchez said. “I believe the 33rd Ward only has about 1 percent, I believe, protected affordable rents. This puts people at risk of displacement, which is something we’re very worried about and trying to counter.”

Developer Townes Glaser Development previously pitched a five-story mixed-use building featuring 30 condominium units and ground-floor retail space at the site but withdrew their plans last year, the firm said in a statement.

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