Courtesy Mercy Housing Lakefront

Mercy Housing Lakefront has completed a major renovation of one of its oldest permanent supportive housing communities in Chicago.

Residents at the Major Jenkins Apartments returned to updated homes, new and redesigned community spaces, and air conditioning and Wi-Fi internet throughout the building, both first-time amenities at the building. It’s also the first time that the nonprofit has included free Wi-Fi as part of the project scope, a response that grew out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting hardships faced by residents.

“It is a complicated deal with lots of funding sources, but at the same time it is a development that caters to the needs of the hardest hit of our community,” says Todd Wolcott, senior project developer at Mercy Housing Lakefront.

The Major Jenkins, with 156 single-room occupancy units, is home to extremely low-income residents, including many who had been chronically homeless. Forty units target residents earning 30% of the area median income and the rest serve residents at 50% of the AMI.

Courtesy Mercy Housing Lakefront

Their apartments have been updated with new appliances, furniture, lighting, and paint. Eight units were also remodeled to provide a private, in-unit bathroom, replacing Jack-and-Jill style shared bathrooms. Four other ground-floor units were reconfigured to provide space for new activity and fitness rooms.

The building’s history dates back to the mid-1920s and is comprised of two formerly separate apartment hotels. The buildings were joined together by their predecessor and last updated in 1993 to create one affordable housing community. After nearly three decades, it was time for a rehabilitation as well as a recapitalization.

In addition, to renovating the building, the team extended the property’s long-term affordability, including renewing its rental subsidies.

Financing for the $26.4 million included low-income housing and historic tax credits. The project also utilized the federal Rental Assistance Demonstration second component to convert half of the units to a new project-based rental assistance contract. The other half is covered by a separate Section 8 contract through the Chicago Housing Authority.