Affordable housing project proposed for Lawrence-Austin parcel in Jefferson Park in 38th Ward
by BRIAN NADIG
A proposed 48-unit affordable housing project at the southwest corner of Lawrence and Austin avenues in Jefferson Park is pending approval of low-income housing tax credits by the Illinois Housing Development Authority, although the local alderman is pledging to fight the proposal.
The authority’s decision will be announced by Friday, July 17. The applicant is Full Circle Communities, which currently is building a 75-unit, mixed-income housing development at 5150 N. Northwest Highway in the 45th Ward.
The project, which would be located at 6001 W. Lawrence Ave., has been in the works since at least 2019 but appears to have flown under the public’s radar when compared to the Northwest Highway development, which generated a storm of controversy. That development gives a tenant preference to veterans and includes 30 Chicago Housing Authority-subsidized apartments.
Both projects are in Jefferson Park, but the pending one on Lawrence is in the 38th Ward, and its alderman, Nicholas Sposato, said Thursday that he was unaware of the proposal until this week. “Shame on me for not knowing about it,” but “I’m very disappointed that the project’s developer did not talk to me,” Sposato said. “Everyone does it, even when there’s no zoning involved.”
“How can I be supportive of something I know nothing about? You have to come to me and the community first. … There has to be a community input process,” Sposato said. “I will do anything I can to stop it.”
The city Department of Housing has issued a letter of support for the proposal to the state housing authority, according to a department spokesman.
The proposal can be built under the site’s existing RT-4 zoning, according to Full Circle. In 2016 the site was rezoned to RT-4 to accommodate a proposed townhouse development, but it never materialized.
The approximately 48,000-square-foot vacant parcel was once home to a Resurrection Medical clinic. In 2007, a four-story, retail-residential building was planned for the site, but the project was never built due to the economic downturn in the real estate market, and the developer turned the property over to the bank which had financed the purchase of the land.
Affordable housing units are offered at a below-market rate to those households earning up to 60 percent of the area’s median income. The proposal is listed by the housing authority as “non-elderly,” meaning that the apartments would be available to families and individuals of all ages.
Supporters of affordable housing argue that many families are rent-burdened, with too much of their income being spent on housing and leaving little for other essentials. At public hearings on the Northwest Highway project, supporters testified that Jefferson Park is woefully underserved in terms of its amount of affordable housing.
Financing for low-income housing developments is often contingent on the issuance of tax credits. Full Circle’s application received preliminary approval by the state and made it to the final round of consideration of what is considered a highly competitive process due to the high number of applicants.
The housing authority’s website lists 43 units on Full Circle’s preliminary application but 48 on its final application.
Editor’s note: please watch for updates on the “Nadig Newspaper” Facebook page. Full Circle has been asked to respond to Sposato’s statement that the company never reached out to him.
(Photo by William Swanson)