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Outstanding Non-Profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project

A nun’s memories of a thriving Englewood neighborhood surrounding the hospital where she has served for 25 years was the impetus behind Bernard Place Phase I, this year’s awardee for outstanding non-profit real estate project. In 1996, Sister Elizabeth Van Straten, President and CEO of St. Bernard’s Hospital, gazed upon the expanse of vacant land surrounding the hospital and said, “There once was a community here—there should be again.” That memory became reality through the St. Bernard Housing Development Corporation, a newly formed hospital subsidiary that developed the 50 single-family home and 12 two-flat project.

The bold housing development, spanning a four-block area around the hospital, is both attractive and affordable to a broad spectrum of buyers. Six of the homes have been sold at market rate, while the majority of the others have been sold below-market through a subsidy provided by the City of Chicago’s New Homes for Chicago Program. In addition, Sr. Elizabeth’s religious community, the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph, invested more than $800,000 in the project.

The homes have given new life to the street. Varied facades and rooflines recall the homes of days past and new structures and residents have encouraged companion housing and business developments in the area. As one longtime resident says: “It’s as if the faith of one small group of people has created a small miracle . . . a miracle we want to keep growing.”