Town Hall Apartments in Chicago is one of the nation’s first affordable housing developments built with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender seniors in mind.
Developed by Heartland Housing, a local nonprofit, and Center on Halsted, the Midwest’s largest LGBT center, the new, 79-unit project has made a huge impact in the lives of its residents.
“All of the units have project-based rental vouchers, so they are extremely affordable,” says Nadia Underhill, director of real estate development at Heartland. “Only a few of the people who live there now previously had affordable housing. People were in financial stress. There are also many people in the LGBT community who did not feel safe in their former housing. This community is a safe place.”
An estimated 40,000 LGBT individuals over the age of 55 live in Chicago, with one in five living in poverty. The new development is located in the Lakeview neighborhood, the heart of the city’s LGBT community. More than 400 people indicated interest in Town Hall during a two-day event last year.
Town Hall is also notable for the adaptive reuse of a historic police station in the project design. Developers repurposed the decommissioned station into a new senior center for Center on Halsted. Several decades ago, the station was a symbol of intolerance and evoked fear in the gay community, but it has now become a source of pride. Open to the larger community, the facility offers a variety of programs and services, including a free lunch program.
The housing is located in an attached building, creating a unique project that blends both old and new structures.
Financing for the $23.7 million development includes 9% federal low-income housing tax credits and the Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit, with investor Citi Community Capital and syndicator National Equity Fund.