Past winners

The Polk Bros. Foundation Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Award

When the Edgewater neighborhood’s Hollywood House Apartments affordable housing complex went up for sale in 2008, the senior citizens residing in the building feared what the future would bring. Built in 1963, the building was subject to code violations. It could have been a prime candidate for a full rehab and conversion to condominiums, pushing many residents out.

But Heartland Housing, Inc., worked with the building’s owner, using the Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit to negotiate a below-market acquisition price, and bought the property. In addition, it repaired and renovated the building without displacing its residents. In the 13-story, 197-unit building, 90 percent of the units were preserved as affordable housing, and 127 are now targeted to seniors earning 60 percent or less of the Chicago median income.

Heartland worked with building residents throughout the process, from soliciting their opinions on design to helping them move into temporary apartments within the building while their units were being rehabbed. Heartland also made use of community resources, partnering with the Jane Addams Senior Caucus to engage residents, and securing help from Designs for Dignity, a non-profit group, to furnish the building’s common areas.

The project also resulted in the establishment of a TIF district, providing a source of capital for other redevelopment efforts. Heartland managed not only to preserve affordable rental housing for seniors, but to deepen the connections between residents and their building and between the building and the neighborhood.

For this reason, Heartland Housing, Inc., has been awarded The Polk Bros. Foundation Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Award for Hollywood House Apartments.