State okays low-income housing tax credits for Jefferson Park project; 3-bedroom rents $660 to $1,854
by BRIAN NADIG
The impact that the planned 48-unit development at 6001 W. Lawrence Ave. could have on desegregating Jefferson Park was briefly discussed at the July 17 meeting in which the Illinois Housing Development Authority approved low-income housing tax credits for the project.
“Our neighborhood is a wonderful place to live, (and) specifically families of color” should have more access to the area, resident Rachel Galan Blundy told the board. She added that the development site has been “a large patch of overgrown weeds” for more than 10 years.
Northwest Side Housing Center director of community organizing Julio Rodriguez saiid that the project will help reduce segregation, which in turn provides a boost to the city’s economy.
“The number one issue people have is not being able to pay their rent and knowing where they’re going to live,” Rodriguez testified.
Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th) countered that there is no guarantee the project will address racial segregation.
“This affordable housing has nothing to do with someone’s color of skin,” Sposato testified. He said that preferences will be given to veterans and those with a disability and that project officials informed him that tenants are not chosen based on their race or where they currently reside.
Sposato also testified that tenants will be selected based on their annual income, with their savings and possibly some of their investments not being factored in. “You could have a million dollars in the bank, so you’re not really helping the people who need help,” he said.
Tenants will have their annual income checked each year, and their rent could change based on changes with their earnings, and in some instances they may no longer qualify to live there, Sposato said.
The housing board, which awarded $1.5 million in federal tax credits for the project, received 75 letters in support of the project and 20 against. The issuance of tax credits plays a key role in financing affordable housing developments.
Sposato unsuccessfully argued that the board should delay its vote because the community has had less than two weeks to review the project and that it would be “premature” to make a decision. There reportedly was miscommunication between Sposato and the project’s developer, Full Circle Communities, which led to a delay in the alderman learning about the tax credit request. A zoning change is not required.
Neighbors for Affordable Housing representative Georgette Foss told the board that there was “open hostility” toward another Full Circle affordable housing project in Jefferson Park and toward the people who will be living there.
However, she said that the development at 5150 N. Northwest Hwy. was eventually approved and will be constructed by the end of 2020. She said that there is a strong need for “affordable and accessible housing” in the area.
The Lawrence development will consist of three studio apartments, with rents ranging from $444 to $780 a month; 17 one-bedroom units, with $475 to $1,337 rents; 16 two-bedroom units, with $570 to $1,604 rents; and 12 three-bedroom units, with $660 to $1,854 rents.
Fifteen of the apartments will be for households with annual earnings of $20,000 to $28,000 (30 percent of the area’s median income), 14 units for those earning $35,000 to $55,000 (50 percent AMI) and 19 units for those earning $55,000 to $75,000 (80 percent AMI).