18 of the 24 developments in Chicago’s affordable housing plan are eTODs

The six-acre property at 18th/People in Pilsen, near the Halsted station, which the city is buying from a private developer to build affordable housing, looking south. Photo: Steven Vance
The six-acre property at 18th/People in Pilsen, near the Halsted station, which the city is buying from a private developer to build affordable housing, looking south. Photo: Steven Vance

Today Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Housing commissioner Marisa Novara announced what they say is a $1 billion investment in affordable housing, the largest in the our city’s history. They say 24 new developments will create or preserve more than 2,400 affordable rental units across Chicago. An encouraging aspect of the plan is that three-quarters of the projects are equitable transit-oriented developments, which means residents will have good access to public transportation, and therefore education, jobs, healthcare and retail. (The city defines eTOD as “development that enables all people regardless of income, race, ethnicity, age, gender, immigration status or ability to experience the benefits of dense, mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented development near transit hubs.”)

Lightfoot and Novara say that this year DOH more than doubled the number of developments and essentially doubled the number of units that were awarded Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. While 11 developments, representing 1,083 units and $398 million in funding garnered the tax credit in 2019, this year 24 developments, accounting for 2,428 units and $1 billion in investment, were awarded LIHTC.

“Investing in affordable housing is a critical component to creating an equitable, strong city,” said Lightfoot in a statement. “I am thrilled that we’ve been able to expand our investments in affordable housing to move us closer towards that vision for our city. I look forward to seeing these developments come to life and provide more affordable, safe housing options on our South and West sides.”

Lightfoot also announced today that the city is buying over six acres of vacant land at 18th and Peoria streets in Pilsen, currently owned by the real estate firm Property Markets Group, that will be used for building affordable transit-oriented development. The site is two blocks from the Halsted station on Metra’s BNSF line. It’s unusual for cities to buy land from real estate companies in this manner.

The location of the PMG-owned land at 18th/Peoria in Pilsen. Image: Google Maps
The location of the PMG-owned land at 18th/Peoria in Pilsen. Image: Google Maps

The city says this is the single largest parcel of vacant developable land in Pilsen. The purchase of this site, which is expected to include at least 280 affordable units and more than $100 million in development activity, comes in the wake of two anti-displacement measures passed by City Council earlier this year.

“Today’s announcement has been more than six years in the making with the people of Pilsen standing shoulder-to-shoulder, demanding affordable housing, and that collective fight was for the social fabric of an entire community that stretches beyond this intersection,” Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) said in a statement. “Thanks to our city and to our community, this is how we stop displacement together.”

Lightfoot and Novara say the 24 selected LIHTC developments reflect “DOH’s commitment to conduct the Department’s work through a racial equity lens.” Over the course of 2020, staff conducted the country’s first Racial Equity Impact Assessment of the LIHTC program through a process that examines data by race and focuses on the experiences of impacted populations.

The city says that research informed new expectations in the 2021 Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP), including for the first time ensuring that developers of color benefit from LIHTC, “a focus on access to housing for particularly marginalized groups,” and prioritizing developments with transit access and other strategies to facilitate wealth-building by residents.

The housing department received 51 total applications. The projects that were awarded are a mix of new construction, preservation, and rehabs including “Chicago’s first development in partnership with and for indigenous populations,” and overhauling a former Chicago Public School building to create housing for people reentering society after incarceration.

In addition to 18 of the 24 projects being eTOD, the city says other attributes of the awardees include:

  • Sixteen of the 24 are located on the South and West sides (67 percent.)
  • Ten of the 24 developments are POC-led. All 24 projects will have participation from POC-owned firms.
  • The list includes five Chicago Housing Authority developments, with 566 total units, of which 426 are affordable.
  • Eight of 24 developments are located within INVEST South/West neighborhoods.
  • A total of 684 units will be family-sized units with two-, three-, and four-bedroom units
  • 394 units will be affordable to households earning 30 percent of the Chicagoland area median income.

“Low-Income Housing Tax Credits are the largest funding source we have for the creation of affordable rental housing, a process we have made more equitable through our Racial Equity Impact Assessment,” said Novara in a statement. “This year, made possible in part by the Chicago Recovery Plan [using American Recovery Plan federal stimulus funds], we also have the opportunity to more than double our impact with the largest tax credit investment in this City’s history.”

Total development costs for the 24 projects are estimated at $952,775,414 and include all public and private resources: $18.6 million in 9 percent Low Income Housing Tax Credits and $13.9 million in 4 percent LIHTC to generate an estimated $308.6 million in private resources and equity; and an estimated $208 million from public loans, Tax Increment Financing and the Chicago Recovery Plan.

The 2021 LIHTC Awardees are:

  • 2907 W. Irving Park Apartments, Irving Park
  • 4715 N. Western Apartments, Lincoln Square
  • Lathrop Homes Phase 1D, Lincoln Park
  • Prairie District Apartments, Near South Side
  • 43 Green Phase II, Grand Boulevard
  • Austin United Alliance, Austin
  • East Morgan Park Commons, Morgan Park
  • Imani Village Senior Residences, Pullman
  • LeClaire Courts A, North, Garfield Ridge
  • Legends South A3, South Chicago
  • The Regenerator, Englewood
  • Thrive Englewood, Englewood
  • 1237 N. California Apartments, West Town
  • Boulevard Apartments, Humboldt Park
  • Parkside 4 Phase 3, Near North Side
  • Winthrop Argyle Apartments, Uptown
  • Albany-Gaines Redevelopment, South Lawndale and East Garfield Park
  • Archer Avenue Senior, Bridgeport
  • Churchview Supportive Living Facility, Chicago Lawn
  • Island Terrace, Woodlawn
  • North Town Village 1, Near North Side
  • Prairie District apartments, Near South Side

The next steps for these proposals are project underwriting, design review, zoning approvals, and City Council approvals for any public subsidy. Closing on these projects is expected in the next eight to eighteen months. A complete list of the 51 proposals received for the 2021 funding round is available on the city’s Qualified Allocation Plan 2021 website.

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