AUBURN GRESHAM — A new housing complex for low-income veterans is under construction thanks to a $3.3 million loan from the city of Chicago and financial backing from a South Side nonprofit organization.
On Wednesday the City Council approved the financial incentives for the 54-unit complex at 8132 S. Racine Ave., including $660,000 in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.
The independent living center will be located adjacent to New Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church, which is spearheading the project through its New Pisgah Service organization, according to Stanley Smith, chief operating officer for the nonprofit organization.
A completion date has not yet been determined for the proposed $14 million complex, but Smith said rent would be based on a veteran's income.
The four-story, 34,000-square-foot complex would be made up of studio apartments and would include a computer room, classrooms and a library. Other services would include career counseling, computer training, substance-abuse treatment and referrals to other social services available to veterans.
The need for more low-income housing for veterans has grown over the years, said Nancy Hughes, president and CEO for Volunteers for America Illinois, a Chicago nonprofit organization spearheading the Hope Manor II development in Englewood for low-income veterans. Completion of that complex is expected in June 2014.
Veteran Elroy Madison, 69, looks forward to the new housing complex. He is currently homeless but said he grew up in Auburn Gresham.
"This is where I was raised and this is where I choose to stay. I could go to a shelter but I'd rather stay in my own neighborhood," said Madison, an Army veteran. "It's warm now, so finding somewhere to sleep is no longer a problem.
New Pisgah already operates and manages the 62-unit New Pisgah Haven Homes for seniors at 8005 S. Racine Ave. The independent living development is where Fontella Dixon has called home for the last seven years. As the oldest resident at 107 years old, Dixon said she enjoys living there but looks forward to moving on to better place.
"I have enjoyed my time here but I welcome the day when I get to move 'upstairs' with God," Dixon said. "It's important that veterans have a place to live that's clean and supportive like this place. [Veterans] did a lot for this country regardless if they are seniors or not."
The mother of three, grandmother of 17, great-grandmother of 27, and great-great grandmother of seven will celebrate her 108th birthday Monday.
"I heard there's a party being thrown for me. Hope to see everyone there," added Dixon.
One person who will be there is her 86-year-old daughter Lorraine Martin, who lives in St. Paul, Minn., but came to Chicago to "party with my mom," Martin said.