ENGLEWOOD — St. Bernard Hospital is eyeing an expansion of its 70-unit affordable housing development Bernard Place once the local housing market improves.
"We still own several vacant lots in Englewood around the hospital, with the goal of building more affordable housing units," said Derek Michaels, a spokesman for St. Bernard Hospital, located at 326 W. 64th St.
"Recognizing the blight of the area, we wanted to have a positive impact on stabilizing and revitalizing the neighborhood, which is why Bernard Place was built."
Bernard Place homes are concentrated between 64th and 67th streets from Yale to Harvard avenues, with other residences as far west as Stewart Street. Bernard Place was built under the city’s New Homes for Chicago Program, which is an affordable home-buying program for first-time buyers, Michaels added.
The program specifies income requirements, sales price and amenities for the buildings, and the program makes available subsidies for qualified buyers depending on their income levels.
To date, there have been five foreclosures at Bernard Place, according to Michaels. The average home at Bernard Place has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, an unfinished basement and a parking spot in the rear.
St. Bernard Hospital is used to thinking outside the box to service residents in an economically challenged community it has called home for more than 100 years. Michaels added that the medical institution's pediatric dental clinic is one of only three in the city that treats special-needs children, such as those with autism. The other two dental clinics are located at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center and Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.
Residents said their new neighbors have been nothing but good since moving to the area.
"I have had no problems with none of them. They [Bernard Place homeowners] are very quiet, stay to themselves and [are] friendly people," said Emmanuel Gozman, 21, who lives in 6400 block of South Yale Avenue. "Every now and then I run into them but mostly they are good people, who work and spend time with their kids. This is the most quiet block around here."
Located next door to Gozman's home is the Beloved Community Christian Church, whose pastor is U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, (D-Chicago). According to the longtime congressman, some of the Bernard Place families are members of his church.
One Bernard Place resident who moved across from Gozman a year ago said things there have been good there, despite some unfortunate incidents this past summer.
"Someone broke into my car and stole my radio, and three weeks later someone stole all four of my rims off my car," said Tane Cooper, 34, who previously lived in south suburban Alsip with his wife and four children, of the alleged July thefts. "Other than those two incidents, I have had no problems with the area or with my new home"
Adrienne Carr, 45, said she has lived in Englewood "for nearly my entire life" and welcomes more Bernard Place homes.
"Maybe I could get one," she said. "The homes are beautiful and the families there seem nice. And it has made the block look better and more middle-class."