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Hazel Winthrop Apartments: Polk Bros. Foundation Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Award

For its dedication to preserving affordable rental housing and its resilience in creatively financing and renovating Hazel Winthrop Apartments, Chicago Community Development Corp. and Voice of the People of Uptown are the winners of the 2014 Polk Bros. Foundation Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Award.

Uptown, a port of entry for immigrants from around the world, has long been an ethnically and economically di- verse community with a rich history and cultural fabric. But that diversity is under pressure. The number of affordable homes and apartments has declined as federal housing contracts have expired, multi-family building owners allowed their holdings to deteriorate, and others were lost to foreclosure and abandonment. It’s become increasingly difficult for very low-income residents to re- main in the neighborhood that they had long called home.

So when Hazel Winthrop Apartments (HWA) fell into disrepair, a consortium of groups led by Chicago Community Development Corp. and Voice of the People (VOP) sprang into action to preserve and renovate 30 afford- able apartments in four vintage scattered-site buildings.

VOP, which has long worked for quality affordable housing and improved community services, sought the input of neighbors and building residents through a series of community meetings to define the scope of renovations. The vast repairs ultimately included the installation of new kitchens, windows, appliances, security systems and state- of-the-art technology labs and fitness centers.

To keep the development affordable, the city provided an assortment of funding mechanisms, including HOME, TIF, Tax Exempt Bonds and 4% Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. HUD later extended the Section 8 rental assistance contract while providing mortgage insurance. Through the process, VOP and the Chicago Community Development Corp. served as co-general partners, maintaining ownership interest in the development.

The Polk Bros. Foundation Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Award is given to a for-profit developer or a non-profit community development organization for a real estate project that serves as a model for preserving affordable rental housing that is at risk because of expiring subsidies or physical deterioration.