Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ald. Tom Tunney and other dignitaries joined Heartland Housing Executive Director Michael Goldberg today to formally open Town Hall Apartments, the first and only lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ)-friendly affordable housing complex for seniors in the Chicago region and only the third to open in the U.S.
The $23.7 million project, developed by Heartland Housing Inc. and located at 3600 N. Halsted St. in Lake View, includes 79 studio and one-bedroom apartments for LGBTQ residents 55 years or older. To ensure that units remain affordable to seniors, rents will be capped at no more than 30 percent of a tenant’s income. The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) is providing PRA assistance for all 79 units. Using CHA-managed site-based list for the first time, the development was able to reach full occupancy within two weeks of opening.
“This project represents more than just another new building on the North Side. There are more than 40,000 LGBTQ seniors in Chicago and one in five live in poverty. This is unacceptable. Town Hall not only provides affordable housing to dozens of Lake View seniors but it is a safe and comfortable place to live as these residents grow older,” Mayor Emanuel said.
The six-story complex connects with the Landmarked Town Hall Police Station originally built in 1907. The Police Station was donated by the City and incorporated into the complex as part of a City of Chicago Request for Proposals (RFP). The two-story, Classical Revival-style station was operated by the Chicago Police Department until 2010, when it was replaced by a larger, modern police station nearby. The RFP for the station and adjacent land specifically sought an affordable housing complex for seniors that targeted the LGBTQ community.
The project was able to move forward following a $5 million loan from the City of Chicago and $1.5 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits that generated $14.5 million in equity for the project.
"This is an historic day in Lakeview and for Chicago’s LGBT Community. As a community, we need to address the needs of all our citizens at every stage in their lives,” said Alderman Tunney. “More buildings like this are needed, both affordable and market-rate, to meet the needs of our LGBT seniors, to allow them to age with dignity and respect. This is also a great example of innovative adaptive re-use of our landmark Town Hall police station. This has been a dream of mine since before I took office in 2002 and I am thrilled that all the players came together to create this amazing space."
The Town Hall Apartments complex also includes approximately 4,500 square feet of commercial space and 20 parking spaces. A variety of resident- and community-based services will be offered to tenants by the adjacent Center on Halsted, which will relocate its existing senior services program to the first floor of the complex.
“Town Hall Apartments is a safe, welcoming, and affordable place for seniors to call home in a community that embraces and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation,” said Michael Goldberg, executive director of Heartland Housing, a division of Heartland Alliance, the Midwest leading anti-poverty organization. “Affordable housing for all residents is critical to the success of any city. Town Hall is an example of how good design, development and collaboration can fulfill a critical need while improving the surrounding neighborhood.”
Town Hall Apartments is the culmination of nearly a decade of research, advocacy and community relations by Heartland Alliance, which conducted a study of Chicago’s LGBTQ senior community to determine its need for an amenity-rich affordable housing development. The dialog clarified the importance of common and outdoor spaces, a strong connection with the rest of the neighborhood, an interest in maintaining social activity and physical fitness, and the sensitivity required regarding property management for transgender residents.
“Town Hall Apartments directly addresses the disparities amongst our LGBTQ older adults,” said Modesto “Tico” Valle, CEO of Center on Halsted, the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ community center. “More frequently and proportionally this generation lives in isolation and experiences housing and healthcare discrimination than their straight counterparts. With more than 50,000 seniors who identify as LGBTQ in the Chicagoland area, Town Hall will act as model, both locally and nationally to address these issues.”
Designed by Gensler architects, the complex is expected to achieve a LEED Silver rating for its many sustainable elements, including high-efficiency fixtures and appliances, recycled building materials, green roof, and an energy efficient heating and cooling system.
Additional funding includes Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credit equity and an Energy Efficiency Grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, along with generous support from Citi Community Capital, the National Equity Fund, Enterprise Community Partners, the Illinois Department of Human Services, and LISC Chicago.