State expected to okay low-income housing tax credits for Full Circle’s 48-unit Lawrence-Austin project in Jefferson Park
by BRIAN NADIG
The Illinois Housing Development Authority is expected to approve low-income housing tax credits this week for the proposed 4-story, 48-unit affordable housing project at 6001 W. Lawrence Ave., where rents for a one-bedroom apartment would cost between $475 and $1,300 a month.
Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th) said that IHDA officials told him Monday that they have recommended that the project be approved at the authority’s July 17 board meeting. The project’s developer, Full Circle Communities, also is building a 75-unit mixed-income development at 5150 N. Northwest Hwy. which the state approved for tax credits in 2019. That development caused a storm of controversy on the Northwest Side under the former alderman of the 45th Ward.
"The community has absolutely no say about it," Sposato said of the Lawrence proposal. "It’s shameful."
The application for the tax credits was filed with the state about 7 months ago, but Sposato said that he first learned about it on July 1 when contacted by Nadig Newspapers.
The issuance of tax credits are considered key for the financing of low-income housing.
"They said that (Full Circle) had checked all the boxes, and I said, ‘What about the box for input from the local elected official and the box for a traffic study?’ They said those boxes aren’t part of it. That’s a dangerous intersection (Lawrence and Austin avenues) and now you’re putting 48 units," Sposato said.
The project has been endorsed by the Lightfoot administration, as the city Department of Housing sent the state a letter of support, but "no one from the mayor’s office" contacted Sposato to discuss the project, and Full Circle has not provided details of the proposal, the alderman said. Full Circle and Sposato are scheduled to meet for the first time to discuss the project on Wednesday, July 15.
Sposato said that the housing authority told him Monday that the units would be intended for households earning between 30 and 80 percent of the area’s media income and that the largest apartments would have three bedrooms, with rent up to about $1,700.
A preference would be given to veterans, but no information was available on whether there would be a guaranteed minimum number of units for veterans, the alderman said. He added that the Chicago Housing Authority would not be subsidizing the four-story development, unlike Full Circle’s complex on Northwest Highway, where some families will be chosen from the CHA waitlist.
The site’s existing RT-4 zoning can accommodate the proposed 48 apartments. It was rezoned to RT-4 in 2016 for a 24-unit townhouse development, which was never built, Sposato said.
"(Residents) were worried about parking for 24 units, with two-car garages. Now there’s going to be 48 units," Sposato said, adding that he has not been told the number of planned parking spaces.
On July 8 Sposato sent the housing authority a letter stating that he was not supporting the project.
"I would like the opportunity to meet with the developers and to have a chance to present their proposed project to my community. While I am in support of any project that is beneficial to the community, it is premature for me and my community to make a decision on this parcel," the letter stated.
Sposato and state Representative Lindsey LaPointe (D-19) met on July 13 with a group of residents and merchants who reportedly were concerned about Full Circle’s plans.
LaPointe said in a statement that she recently reached out to Full Circle to learn more details about the project. "I welcome additional housing options, in particular a fully accessible elevator-served building with a preference for veterans and people with disabilities. I have met many seniors in the area on fixed incomes who struggle to pay housing costs and need accessible housing as they age due to the older and inaccessible housing stock on the Far Northwest Side. This proposal will fill a need in our area and aid in economic development," LaPointe said.
Supporters of affordable housing argue that many families are rent-burdened, paying too much of their income toward housing expenses. Those who are opposed to affordable housing argue that such developments may bring their property values down.
The housing authority board meeting will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, July 17, and public comment can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. Thursday, July 16, and those submitting a comment are asked to include their name, addresses, telephone number and name of any business or organization they are representing. Those submitting a comment will be acknowledged at the meeting and be asked if they want to speak.
Those wishing to speak at the meeting but are not submitting a written comment should contact Maureen Ohle, general counsel for the IHDA, at email@example.com by 10:30 a.m. Friday.