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Humboldt Park's Huge New Homeless Facility Gets $3.5 Million In City TIF

By Mina Bloom | May 25, 2017 3:41pm
 A 2016 rendering of La Casa Norte's new project, which will include 25 affordable housing units.
A 2016 rendering of La Casa Norte's new project, which will include 25 affordable housing units.
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HUMBOLDT PARK — A huge new Humboldt Park development aimed at helping the homeless will get $3.5 million from the city's tax increment financing fund, according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office.

The five-story facility at 3527 W. North Ave. will serve as the new hub for Humboldt Park-based nonprofit La Casa Norte, which has been providing housing and services for families and youth facing homelessness since 2002. The project has been in the works for more than six years.

A food pantry, teaching kitchen and a health and wellness center are planned for the first floor. On the second floor will be a community meeting area, art gallery and administrative offices.

The top three floors will offer a total of 25 apartments, a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom units, all of which will be reserved as affordable housing.

At the end of June, crews are expected to begin building the facility, which will sit in an area of West Humboldt Park that hasn't seen significant investment in years, according to Sol Flores, executive director of La Casa Norte.

Flores said the facility, which stretches across 4½ city lots, should open by August 2018.

In total, the project is expected to cost $20.5 million, according to the mayor's office.

In addition to the TIF money, the city is contributing a $4.2 million loan and $288,000 in donations tax credits. The rest of the funding will come from the Illinois Housing Development Authority ($1.2 million); New Markets Tax Credit equity ($6.7 million); private donations; and a $1.1 million loan, the mayor's office said.

"We feel really proud and excited that we've worked with the community to get to this place," Flores said, adding that she and her team had to build relationships with the mayor's office, as well as public and private donors, to secure the necessary funds.

"We've been in the neighborhood for 15 years. We will continue to be here for another 50 years as long there is a need for the type of housing and services we provide," she said.

La Casa Norte bills itself as "providing access to stable housing and deliver comprehensive services that act as a catalyst to transform lives and communities," according to its website. The new facility is replacing one of the nonprofit's sites at 3533 W. North Ave.

Right now, La Casa Norte serves 3,000 people every year. The nonprofit said it expects that number to jump to 5,000 within the first two years of the new facility, and 8,000 within five years.

TIF districts capture all growth in the property tax base in a designated area for a set period of time, usually 20 years or more, and divert it into a special fund for projects designed to spur redevelopment and eradicate blight.