CHA issues early pledge to fund ‘5150’ housing
by BRIAN NADIG
The Chicago Housing Authority Board of Commissioners at its March 19 meeting approved a preliminary commitment to award an estimated $21.5 million of project-based housing vouchers over 30 years for the planned seven-story, mixed-income housing complex at 5150 N. Northwest Hwy.
The vouchers would be for 30 of the building’s 75 apartments, with 10 vouchers being used for homeless veterans and 20 for families on the CHA waitlist.
The remaining 45 apartments are expected to include a mix of market-rate and affordable housing units, the latter of which would be targeted for those earning no more than 60 percent of the area’s median income. A preference would be given for families with a veteran or someone with a disability.
CHA spokeswoman Molly Sullivan said that the developer, Full Circle Communities, would have to return to the CHA for formal approval after additional financing is obtained for the project. She added that the CHA had issued a preliminary commitment for the project in 2017 and that the authority’s recent vote represents a renewal of that commitment.
Full Circle also is seeking low-income housing tax credits from the state and in the past has sought financing from the city. The Illinois Housing Development Authority rejected Full Circle’s tax credit request in 2017 and 2018.
Sullivan said that the Northwest Highway proposal fits in with the housing authority’s affordable housing goals, adding that there is a need for more affordable housing on the Northwest Side. She added that it is still early in the funding process and that city tax dollars are not used for the vouchers since they come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Alderman John Arena (45th), who recently lost his re-election bid to Chicago firefighter Jim Gardiner, has been a strong supporter of the project.
Some supporters have said the site’s proximity to the Jefferson Park CTA Transit Center would give the building’s tenants better access to job opportunities and that the project would represent a step toward desegregating the area.
The housing plan has generated a storm of controversy on social media for more than 2 years, and Arena has filed complaints against dozens of city workers who he claimed made racially charged comments on social media about the housing proposal.
The developer has said that all 75 units would be either accessible for those with disabilities or can be converted to be handicap-accessible. Marketing efforts would target local residents, but a preference cannot be given based on an applicant’s proximity to the development site, according to Full Circle.
Original plans called for only a storage facility on the parcel, but Arena had the property downzoned to stop that plan. LSC Development, which owns the property, subsequently sued the city, and a settle agreement called for a dense residential development on the south end of the parcel and a storage warehouse on the north end. The warehouse is currently under construction.