The proposed mixed-use, mixed-income development at 5150 N. Northwest Highway has sparked a lot conversation, both online and off, about what the project actually will entail. More information regarding this project will be provided at the community meeting at 7 pm on Thursday, February 9 at The Branch Community Church, 6125 W. Foster. However, I would like to offer some answers to common questions about the development ahead of the community meeting.
What does mixed-income housing mean?
Mixed-income housing includes diverse types of housing, including apartments, townhomes, and single-family homes for people with a range of income levels. Mixed-income housing is determined by market rates with a percentage allocated for low- to middle-income families.
Mixed-income development is a direct response to past challenges with public housing. Mixed-income provides lower-income families the opportunity for self betterment by integrating them into a diverse socioeconomic setting. It creates an opportunity to connect lower-income families to services, employment opportunities, quality schools, and more.
Is this a Section 8 housing project?
No, this is not a Section 8 housing project. Section 8, or the Housing Choice Voucher Program, provides private landlords with rental assistance from the federal government, as well as local housing authorities. Many landlords in Jefferson Park already accept housing choice voucher tenants. Furthermore, it is illegal for any landlord to deny tenancy based on whether or not a person qualifies for the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
This project is not a public housing development, but is privately owned by Full Circle Communities. This means Full Circle Communities will be responsible for the maintenance and operation of the property.
Full Circle Communities became interested in the Jefferson Park neighborhood for a number of reasons. These factors include availability of a suitable site, proximity to public transportation, and demand for affordable housing. Furthermore, there are approximately 30,000 jobs within a 2-mile radius of this site, with easy access to job centers like O’Hare and Downtown without need for a car.
The rental market is extremely tight in Jefferson Park. The demand in the neighborhood is on the rise, but production of housing isn’t keeping up. There has been only a 1.2% increase in units in Jefferson Park since 2010. Jefferson Park is a neighborhood with a mix of homeowners and renters across the income spectrum. However, 41.5% of Jefferson Park are rent burdened. That means that they are paying more than 30% of their take-home income on housing. In addition, Full Circle identified several hundred veterans living in Jefferson Park, which helped determine the direction of prioritizing veterans for this development. This development will help address that burden by providing a range of quality affordable options to individuals, families, veterans, and people with disabilities.
Finally, a closer look at the student demographics on the Northwest Side indicates a demand for affordable housing. The majority of students at local area schools come from lower-income families (Beaubien – 50.5%; Prussing – 63.5%; Hitch – 57.5%; and Farnsworth – 63.2%;). A Harvard study found that children who come from lower-income families and live in economically diverse neighborhoods are more likely to attend college, have substantially higher incomes as adults, live in better neighborhoods as adults, and are less likely to become single parents.
How many units will be affordable?
The proposed development would have 100 units. The breakdown will be as follows:
- 60 units will be made available to households earning at or below 60% of Area Median Income (AMI), which is $46,140 for a family of four per HUD. 20 of those units will be veterans and families from the “Moving to Work” program from the CHA;
- 20 units are affordable to households earning at or below 30% AMI, or $24,300 for a four person household. These units will serve disabled renters and veterans;
- 20 units will be provided at market rates;
- Veterans will be prioritized for 50% of the total units.
How does the veterans’ housing piece work?
As stipulated by a grant source they are seeking, Full Circle is reserving 20 units for veterans, meaning they will be held vacant until occupied by an eligible veteran or veteran family. Beyond that, the entire project will have a preference for veterans specified in the tenant selection plan, meaning veterans are kicked to the top of the waiting list. Full Circle aims to provide quality housing for as many veterans as possible, with a goal of least 50%. Organizations, including A Safe Haven and Thresholds, will be engaged in matching veterans to this quality affordable housing.
What is the tenant application process?
Full Circle has a rigorous and formalized application process. They will create interest lists for the property throughout the construction process. Approximately 120 days before construction is complete, they will reach out to interested parties to begin the formal application process. Applications will be available in person or online, and applicants will be placed on the waiting list on a first-come, first-served basis. Veterans and persons with disabilities will be given preference on the waiting list.
All household members (not just the head of the household) are required to complete a rental application and attend an in-person interview. Full circle reviews all applications, performs a rental history reference check (looking back 5 years), credit check, and criminal background check for each applicant. They automatically reject residents with convictions for felonies, property crimes, violent crimes, drug offenses, and prior eviction(s). Full Circle is obligated to document reasonable credit and sufficient income to pay rent for all rent levels.
The criteria outlined above applies to every single household regardless of their income level, referral source, or any other factor. In order to maintain their funding, Full Circle is required to recertify their tenants on an annual basis.
Who will live here?
The development consists of market rate apartments, apartments priced for working families, and supportive housing units geared towards veterans. 20 of the units will be absolutely reserved for veterans, referred from providers like A Safe Haven, Thresholds, and the City of Chicago’s Rent to a Veteran initiative. However, all of the units have a preference for veterans, so we expect that even more than 20 units will have veteran tenants (Full Circle’s goal is 50%). 30 of the units are either accessible or immediately adaptable for persons with disabilities as well.
What will the impact be on the community?
When any development is proposed, there are a number of anxieties and concerns that surface, which is a normal reaction. We all want to ensure the livelihood and well-being of the neighborhood. For this reason, I do require all developers to complete a packet that defines the project before considering any project to move forward to a public meeting. I have rejected more projects at this stage than have progressed and every project that has been approved
Joanna Duke of Arizona State University studied existing literature on mixed-income housing projects and found that, for the most part, the negative impacts that residents fear have not occurred. All existing research indicates that the key to a successful mixed-income development lies in the management of the project (source, source, source). A study conducted in Park City, UT found the perceived correlation between decent affordable housing and crime is non-existent. Rather, what does cause crime is divestment from the community, lack of jobs, and lack of community services.
In addition to providing low-income families with better opportunities, a study conducted in Richmond, VA found an increase in home prices in areas near the study site compared to other parts of the county/city. In addition, the assessments and home prices of nearby single-family homes did not suffer an adverse impact with the presence of nearby mixed-income, mixed-use developments. Nygun’s research in the Journal of Planning Literature identifies four determining components of successful affordable housing, which can lead to benefitting neighboring property values:
(1) affordable housing is sited in healthy and vibrant neighborhoods,
(2) the structure of the affordable housing does not change the quality or character of the neighborhood,
(3) the management of affordable housing is responsive to problems and concerns, and
(4) affordable housing is dispersed. That is, affordable housing is successful when lower-income families are integrated into an economically diverse area.
How will this impact the schools?
On Wednesday, February 1, Mayor Emanuel and I unveiled a $36 million plan to address school overcrowding on the Northwest Side.
The plan includes a $24 million plan to renovate Prussing School, 4650 N. Menard, and add a permanent eight-classroom annex to address the chronic overcrowding issue there.
The plan also includes a new pre-kindergarten center at the old St. Cornelius School, 5252 N. Long. The new center will open up space in the regions’ elementary schools, including Beaubien, Hitch, Prussing, and Farnsworth.
CPS reports that enrollment is at its lowest level in the last 12 years, and kindergarten classes this year were the smallest they had been in some time. This trend is expected to continue.
I am proud to usher in these improvements to our schools and to continue to collaborate with the Mayor and CPS in developing comprehensive plans to address overcrowding on the Northwest Side.
Who is Full Circle Communities?
Full Circle Communities’ mission is to expand access to quality affordable housing through preservation and development, thoughtful design, and the provision of significant and targeted supportive services to their residents and the surrounding communities.
Full Circle utilizes 75% of all of their resources to provide services to residents. They currently own and manage 855 units in three states, and this year they will spend or reserve $850,000 of their own proceeds for services for those 855 units. Two of their existing development are located on the Northwest Side: Milwaukee Avenue Apartments in Avondale, and 2611 N. Sawyer in Logan Square. These developments have allowed people at risk of being pushed out of their communities due to gentrification to remain in their neighborhoods.
Who will be responsible for the management and maintenance of the property?
Full Circle Communities will privately own and manage the property. Full Circle Communities will have on-site management including a property manager. Management will be on site for at least 12 hours a day. In addition, there will be security cameras at all entrance and exit points that will be connected to Full Circle’s central office, as well as a private security firm hired by Full Circle Communities. Residents will have electronic keycards to access the building. There will also be an on-site case manager and service coordinator to assist residents with their needs.
Will the project create jobs?
This $30 million project is expected to generate 120 construction jobs, all of which will comply with the City’s local hiring and wage requirements. As for permanent jobs, the project will have a property manager, assistant manager, case manager, and maintenance supervisor and assistant, all of whom will have competitive salaries and benefits. Full Circle would happily accept local referrals of individuals with appropriate qualifications and experience to fill these positions.
Will the project help local businesses?
There are many stores within walking, biking or a short bus ride of this project. These Stores cater to almost all of the basic needs of a working family household. These lists are far from comprehensive but illustrate the abundance of shopping opportunities nearby.
Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Walgreens, Produce Center, Andy’s Deli, 7-Eleven, Jewel Foods, Shop & Save, Ellengee Marketplace.
King Gyro, Subway, Elly’s Pancake House, Paterno’s, Gorilla Sushi, McDonald’s, Popeye’s, Jefferson Grill, Gale St. Inn, Highway House, Smoky’s BBQ, Moy Lee Chinese, Mother Cluckers, Brandy’s, Phil’s Pizza D’Oro.
Associated, Chase Bank of America, WinTrust, Liberty Savings,
Health and Wellness:
Immediate MD; ATI Physical Therapy; Grateful Dental; Cesar Lau Optical; Oasis Dental.
Habetler Bowl, Gift Theater, Copernicus Center, Filament Theater, National Veterans Art Museum, Portage Theater, Artorium.
Beaubien School (CPS), CPS Early Learning Center (opening 2018), Pope Francis Academy, St. Edwards School, St. John’s Lutheran.
Does the project pay taxes?
Yes! Although Full Circle is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, this project will generate a projected $70,000-$80,000 in real estate taxes annually.
Life Storage will pay about the same in real estate taxes annually. Making the completed project adding $140,000-$160,000 per year. Or $1.4-$1.6 million over the next 10 years.
Does the property use TIF?
No. This development is not located in a Tax Increment Financing District and is not using Tax Increment Financing as a source
What features/amenities are included on-site?
61 covered on-site parking, an on-site staffed management team of four people, on-site resident service coordinator, library, community room, business center, and laundry room. Outdoor amenities on the second-floor deck above the retail space include a play area, community garden, picnic area, and dog run. Unit amenities include condo quality finishes, dishwashers, balconies/patios, Energy Star appliances, and some units will include in-unit washer and dryer. The building will be either LEED or Enterprise Green Communities Certified, and 30 of the units will either be accessible or immediately adaptable for persons with disabilities.
Is the infrastructure in this area able to support 100 additional units?
As any project moves through the City of Chicago’s review and permitting process, all City Departments provide project feedback. Full Circle has communicated that they anticipate including a stormwater vault beneath the parking lot to comply with the City’s stormwater management ordinance. In addition, they have budgeted for anticipated street, sidewalk, and water improvements as required by both the Department of Transportation and Department of Water Management.
What is the project timeline?
Full Circle is early in the process, seeking community input before they even apply for financing. If successful, financing would be in place in August 2017, with construction to begin in Spring 2018, and completion in Spring/Summer 2019.