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Outstanding Non-Profit Neighborhood Real Estate Project: Claretian Associates, Inc. for New Homes for South Chicago

South Chicago is one of the city's oldest and most historic communities. Once a bustling mix of working class families, its prosperity was always tied to the local steel mill, the immense South Works. When the steel industry collapsed, and South Works closed, the fortunes of the community took a disastrous turn. Unemployment led to increased crime, abandoned homes and disappearing services.

But South Chicago is nothing if not resilient, and with the enlightened leadership of Claretian Associates and its development team, South Chicago Workforce and Sam Marts Architects and Planners, a turnaround is well underway. A two-year community planning process gathered neighbors to envision a new community. When it was complete in 1998, the plan called for new affordable homes on the neighborhood's empty lots, big enough for large families. Claretian Associates responded with New Homes for South Chicago.

Built in three phases, the 17 new single-family homes and 8 two-flats have transformed the mostly vacant lots of the area between Brandon and Mackinaw, just west of the South Works from 88th to 92nd Street. A local, community-based contractor hired and trained neighborhood labor and the entire project was assisted by the New Homes for Chicago Program.

Claretian Associates committed themselves to building homes that were affordable both to buy and to maintain by including a variety of energy efficiency features. All mechanical systems, appliances, windows, and lighting represent the newest in green technologies. The houses were constructed with Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) that provide strength and high insulation values. Some of the homes also come with rooftop solar panels, providing 1.2 kilowatts of electricity to the household. This makes New Homes for South Chicago the largest residential solar project in Illinois.

Despite a host of construction challenges, including lots below street level, Claretian Associates and their general contractor, South Chicago Workforce, remained focused, and today the large homes on oversized lots are complete and occupied.

This project sets South Chicago on course for a bright future and earns Claretian Associates, Inc. the 2005 Outstanding Non-Profit Real Estate Development Award.