Chicago-based nonprofit Full Circle Communities is providing accessible and adaptable housing and targeted supportive services to accommodate individuals and families with disabilities as well as other low-income households in its Milwaukee Avenue Apartments.
Completed at the end of December, it is the first new construction development for the nonprofit, which acquired its first affordable housing project in 2002.
“We built these 32 units knowing that there are hundreds of thousands with disabilities in Chicago or the metro area,” says president Joshua Wilmoth.
One-third of the units serve households earning 60% or less of the area median income, one-third serve people on the Chicago Housing Authority’s wait list, and the remaining units are reserved for residents with disabilities identified through Illinois’ Statewide Referral Network.
Wilmoth says instead of the different populations being segregated, they have formed a tightknit and supportive community. “It has been heartening to see it come together that way.”
The development is located in Chicago’s Avondale community between Logan Square, an area drawing urban hipsters starting families, and Irving Park, an affluent established neighborhood, catching the fringes of gentrification from both sides. More than 500 applications came in for the 32 units, demonstrating the need for affordable housing in the area, and the development was fully leased by the end of March.
The one- and two-bedroom units are all universally designed to accommodate persons with disabilities and feature adjustable cabinets and countertops, adjustable closet organizers, roll-in showers, and audio-visual entry and alert devices. The development also features a computer room, a library room, a community room with a TV and a kitchen, resident storage, and a resident garden.
Recognizing that housing is not always enough, the nonprofit prioritizes significant targeted services for its residents, dedicating 75% of its cash flow and developer fee to pay for them.
“The residents are really directing us to their service needs and their participation,” says Wilmoth. “Our model does not start by saying what services can we provide, here is your menu. It starts with having a service coordinator on site who meets with residents on their request to address any and all of their concerns and needs and who then creates community linkages.”
On-site services are provided by Over The Rainbow Association, which also coordinates at the macro level with six different local service providers.
The $9.8 million development was financed through low-income housing tax credits allocated by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) and purchased by National Equity Fund, a permanent supportive housing grant from IHDA, tax-increment financing from the city of Chicago, a green design grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and developer equity. Construction financing was provided by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
The development received Enterprise Green Communities and Energy Star certifications. Additional partners include architect Cordogan, Clark & Associates, general contractor Joseph J. Duffy Co., and civil engineer Manhard Consulting.
More new development is in the nonprofit’s future. It is nearing completion on a seniors development in Marion, Iowa, and recently held a construction celebration ceremony for a seniors development in Richmond, Ill.