HUMBOLDT PARK — As some homeowners look forward to rising property values along the Bloomingdale Trail in Humboldt Park and Logan Square, low-income residents can expect affordable apartment options near the massive park as well.
Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) voiced his support for ten buildings dubbed Tierra Linda ("beautiful land") during a meeting Tuesday night at Envision Unlimited’s Westtown Center, 1801 N. Spaulding Ave.
The Latin United Community Housing Association (LUCHA) is pushing for a zoning change in order to bring Tierra Linda to the neighborhoods along the planned trail by 2017. Forty-two units are planned for the development in two design types: six 3-flats and four 6-flats ranging from 2-4 bedrooms for each unit.
Tuesday's meeting was the last of at least three public forums on the development, which has been in the works since 2011. Though prior meetings were contentious, most of the 130 people gathered Tuesday supported the project, which will be partially funded through $9 million in city tax credits.
"I go into this as a supporter,” Moreno told the crowd, later adding that he grew up in affordable housing as a child and recently sponsored an ordinance to provide more oversight on public housing in Chicago. “It’s is good for our community and good for the diversity of our ward.”
But not everyone was on board.
“I think what [LUCHA] is doing is terrific. What I don’t like is the rezoning,” said Marjorie Klepadlo, a 30-year resident of the neighborhood whose home sits almost directly across from one of the proposed sites. She said the height of the buildings will reduce the amount of sunlight on her home.
“There’s too much affordable housing already,” Zach Abel, a member of Armitage Neighbors Together, told the crowd. “I know I’m not popular here but that’s how I feel. I know there are other neighborhoods who could use this but that’s not here.”
Supporters of the development told stories of their own financial struggles with a lack of resources and shelter over the years. Several spoke of how affordable housing stabilized the lives of their families long enough to find employment and further their education.
Several others noted how rising rents in Logan Square and Humboldt Park have affected their lives and the lives of their friends, family and, in some cases, their tenants.
“Prior to living at [another LUCHA property] we were living in a two-bedroom apartment in Avondale. The apartment was slowly falling apart around us and I decided it was time to move to a better place,” said Sandra Franco, a mother of two and recent college graduate who plans to obtain her masters.
“We are not what people think of as affordable housing. Talk about breaking stereotypes,” said one supporter, a homeowner whose husband is a disabled veteran. “Once you say 'LUCHA' or 'affordable housing' there’s a stigma, but there’s nothing affordable unless it’s intended. If we’re not intentional then we don’t have it.”
LUCHA’s proposal includes 3-flat buildings at 1812 N. Drake Ave., 1757 N. Drake Ave., 1822 N. Sawyer Ave., 1802 N. Sawyer Ave., 1929 N. Drake Ave., 1858 N. Drake Ave; and 6-flat buildings at 1749-1751 N. Drake Ave., 1649-1651 N. Drake Ave., 1834-1838 N. Sawyer Ave. and 1808-1810 N. Kedzie.
The project will cost a preliminary total of around $17 million — including the $9 million in tax credits — according to Juan Linares, executive director at LUCHA.
"The challenge is always to reduce costs, however we want cutting edge environmental design," Linares said.
Rent at the affordable housing units, not to be confused with public housing units, will range from $750-950 and residents will be required to maintain an employment income during their lease.
“Our aim is to build beautiful buildings that fit within the fabric of the neighborhood,” Linares said. “This is wealth generation for our community."
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