Grove Apartments pre-applications are being accepted

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

The Grove Apartments at Madison Street and Grove Avenue won't be ready for occupancy until about Oct. 1, but those interested in living in one of the renovated 51 one-bedroom units should get their names in now.

Acceptance of the priority pre-applications for residency began on Feb. 1 and will continue until March 1. Forms must be returned by mail and received by that date to be considered in the first round. Applications will be place in a random order with each preference category; applications after the March 1 date will be placed in order based on when they are received.

Ed Solan, executive director of the Oak Park Housing Authority, said the group has received roughly 50 applications so far. The staff, however, hasn't determined yet if all applicants are eligible.

The Grove Apartments complex, site of the former Comcast building, is a collaborative project between the Interfaith Housing Development Corporation and the Oak Park Housing Authority. The project faced some community opposition, but leaders have spoken about the importance of providing housing opportunities to those who want to live and work in Oak Park.

Solan said the location of the Grove Apartments is desirable due to the proximity to shopping and public transit. It offers a less expensive option than other one-bedroom properties in town, plus the units are all new construction.

He said in past interviews with Wednesday Journal that the building will make an important contribution to Oak Park's affordable-housing commitment. He also believes it will have a positive impact on commercial development along Madison Street.

In order to be eligible for occupancy, applicants must be a single adult with annual income below $25,800 or a single adult with no more than one child below 18 years of age and annual income not exceeding $29,450.

The development will also give preference to applicants who are legal residents of Oak Park, those who work in Oak Park 20 hours or more per week, or those who have been hired to work in Oak Park 20 hours or more per week. Applicants who both live and work in Oak Park, or are hired to work in Oak Park will receive a higher preference.

Pre-application forms will be available at and at the office of RC Management Services Corporation, 21 South Blvd.

Update: As of press time, the number of applicants reported to The Journal was around 50. That number has been updated and is now up to 76 applications.

Email: Twitter: @AnnaLothson

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Posted: October 1st, 2013 10:23 PM

Single woman with one child moves in. Woman gets pregnant, gives birth to second child. Is she then evicted?

OP Transplant  

Posted: October 1st, 2013 3:13 PM

Reality Check-Please spare me the lectures. Any stereotypes I harbor about people in low-income housing come from the years I lived in low-income housing. Single moms with one kid? Yeah, they won't let their boyfriends stay. That never happens. They'll live like nuns, because of their respect for the occupancy requirements. And, even if their boyfriends do stay, they're sure to be stand-up guys, because the kinds of guys who have baby-mamas in low income housing are real community assets.

Ok from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 1st, 2013 1:32 PM

Reality...if you look back you'll see a supporter resurrected this. On the rules being enforced, so far they haven't as it relates to construction disruption so the team responsible is 0 for 1 out of the gate. Not exactly confidence building...

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: October 1st, 2013 1:10 PM

Reality - do you live anywhere near Madison and Grove? Would you like work security in the building?

Reality Check  

Posted: October 1st, 2013 1:08 PM

Resurrecting an 8 month old thread just to bitch about the poor? You people are pathetic.

Reality Check  

Posted: October 1st, 2013 1:06 PM

It appears that a side benefit to having lower middle class people (we're not even talking about actual "poor" here) living in OP would be to bust open wide the stereotypes that all the bigots posting in this thread have. Good lord you people are tedious. Get the hell away from me. Move to Hinsdale where your prejudices will be welcomed.

OP Transplant  

Posted: October 1st, 2013 10:55 AM

I don't know what type of enforcement will keep low-income single moms from having their boyfriends stay over indefinitely, but it has "reality TV show" written all over it!

Worked for me  

Posted: October 1st, 2013 10:50 AM

Well, maybe the key to success lies in enforcement of rules. The Y did not allow overnight guests or alcohol. Intrusive, but I think it kept the place in order. Lifestyle restrictions also serve as an incentive for the occupant to move on eventually.

OP Transplant  

Posted: October 1st, 2013 10:39 AM

I think #778 is pointing out that the primary job of the OP Housing Authority is to perpetuate the existence of the OP Housing Authority. We are surrounded by communities that have affordable housing, and we have multiple public transportation options. The west suburbs have gotten by just fine without these 51 units, so it's clearly more of a want than a need. Again, multiple potential problems with no upside. Women don't get to be single moms by sleeping alone. I foresee occupancy issues.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 1st, 2013 9:57 AM

Not sure about the analogy but thought they would have the data available detailing affordable housing needs in our community. If you have a better source to reference;please share.

OP Resident #778 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 1st, 2013 8:58 AM

Jim - asking the Oak Park Housing Authority whether there is a need for affordable housing in the community is on par with asking the Department of Defense whether there is a need for stealth bombers.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 11:24 PM

That's how I heard it too. Tenants are not expected to continue leasing at the Grove Apartments on any long term basis. A few years at the most. Once their income limit is exceeded, they are expected to seek housing they should be able to afford.

Worked for me  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 6:14 PM

So I see the units are for single adults with maximum of one kid. I think this is the key. It is not intended as a place to raise a family. It is intended as a stop along the way.

Worked for me from Oak Park  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 6:10 PM

I am curious as to what the project's target market is. I thought I read that the number of occupants per unit is limited. Are the units designed for singles or families? Something modeled after the Y for low-income singles, whether old or young, would serve a need. My dad once lived at the Y, along with disabled Vietnam vets and other down on their luck. I lived in low-income housing when I first got out of college, because my first job paid so little. Not all low-income housing is bad.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 5:13 PM

I did contact Oak Park Housing Authority today and left a message asking that someone from their offices provide accurate information on affordable housing needs in our community and how the Grove Apartments will address the problem. Let's wait and see if they are willing to get involved in this a discussion and comment on some of the concerns that have been expressed.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 5:02 PM

Jim- I grew up in low-income housing. That's where I got most of my misinformation. I wish I'd had you there to tell that I was misinterpreting my experiences. My fears seemed less misguided when I was there, but I didn't have the village's data to comfort me. Why is it that the less people know, the more certain they are of their opinions. Jam a bunch of poor households into a small space, and things tend to go badly.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 4:46 PM

According to the data presented to the Village Board, there is a need for affordable housing in Oak Park. Perhaps a current trustee or the Wednesday Journal would be willing to share that information. Please hold off on predictions based upon misinformation and misguided fears. The Grove Apartements are not going to be a halfway house or an extended stay motel. Prospective tenants will be properly screened and required to sign a lease. We're talking about people who currently live or work in Oak Park. They are our neighbors or folks we interact with throughout our daily lives. Nothing to be frightened about here.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 4:11 PM

There is ZERO upside to the village in regards to this project. There is no affordable housing need and I predict the it will be rife with the same issues that affect housing projects, section 8, etc because it does nothing to change the pathology associated with low income communities, in particular baby's mamas.

Real List  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 3:15 PM

I think Uncommon and I are linked telepathically. But seriously, I think this project promotes transience over community. Folks living there will have low income, no spouse, and one child. Career and lifestyle changes will force most of these folks to move at some point. To me, Grove seems more like a halfway house or extended stay motel. Seems to me once folks don't fit the Grove requirements, they will be in a limbo state...not making enough to live in OP but priced out of their home. Not good

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 3:13 PM

Jim-You refuse to lower your rose-colored glasses. Fifty-one households, one building, low income requirement, busy commercial street...there are a lot of ways this can go wrong. And there's virtually no upside for the village. We can all cross our fingers and hope for the best, but that shouldn't be the village's housing policy. This crazy village wants more low-income people, and, at the same time, more high-end retail. There is no big-picture planning.

Real List  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 3:07 PM

@Jim-OK, maybe not the best comparison, but the scales are surprisingly similar (15K Cabrini population in a city of 3.5M back then not that much more % wise than 75 in 50K village). Principles are similar too...low-income housing concentrated in one or multiple medium density buildings. The surrounding communities offer a variety of affordable housing choices. Not sure why OP has to pick up the check here.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 3:04 PM

Jim, what data do you have that shows there is a need for affordable housing in Oak Park? One can easily get apartments in Austin, Maywood, Melrose Park, Elmwood Park, Forest Park, and Berwyn at reasonable cost. Please elaborate.

Open Up Your Homes from Oak Park  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 2:50 PM

Maybe we could all open up our nice Oak Park homes to the least fortunate, and allow these people to live among us, free of charge?

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 2:29 PM

Cabrini-Green was built to provide housing for 15,000 people. The Grove Apartments complex plans are limited to 50 units. I don't think it is appropriate to call this building a social experiment. There is a need in this community for affordable housing for current residents and this development begins to address the problem. The trustees have previously pledged to study how to best serve people with disabilities who require some specialized construction to allow them to live independently. Let's get that issue back on the table!

Bob from Oak Park  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 11:05 AM

I understand the need for low income housnig for single mothers (which seems to be the main reason for this building), but the qualifications necessary seem to be a disincentive for these women to ever get married. Bottom line, get married, lose your housing. Stay single, keep your benefits.

Real List  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 10:19 AM

Cabrini Green was once a shiny new development teaming with potential and pride. I thought the concentrated low-income housing model was dead and replaced with the mixed-income model? Low-income housing done smartly can benefit all. We won't know the true result for years to come. But once again OP is called to fund another social experiment. How about a state income tax rebate? Or an Oakbrook / Hinsdale surcharge for those villages keep their distance? Some one always pays...sadly, it is us.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 10:10 AM

Jim, there is a reason housing projects are being dismantled all over the country. We have 50 years of hard data and experience to show it simply doesn't work. There is plenty of affordable housing and transportation in the area (austin, maywood, elmwood park, melrose park, etc), so I don't understand the need of this development.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: September 30th, 2013 9:04 AM

"Jesus would advise us to judge others not by what's in their purse but in their hearts. " But Jesus isn't gonna help me pay my tax bill.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 29th, 2013 10:29 PM

That's not all I've got! The development will not be plagued with overcrowding. It's unhealthy living situation for tenants, landlords don't allow it and Oak Park strictly enforces occupancy limits. I was not aware "many residents" have sold their "nearby homes". May I assume that you've already checked the county recorder's records and are able to share those facts?

OP Resident #778 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 29th, 2013 9:55 PM

"Landlords don't like overcrowding because it will cost them more for the utilities they provide"? Is that supposed to be reassuring, Jim? Is that all you've got? Are you taking this seriously? A decision was made. A decision that many neighbors disagree with and that has pushed many to sell their nearby homes. If you want facts then check the county recorder's records. They speak volumes. I hope this works as promised but the weak defenses and excuses are wearing very, very thin.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 29th, 2013 6:05 PM

From your lips to God's ears, Mr. Coughlin.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 29th, 2013 5:42 PM

Code enforcement will address those concerns. Inspectors look for evidence that the unit's occupancy limit is not being exceeded. Landlords don't like overcrowding because it will cost them more for the utiities they provide. There's too much at stake for all of the parties connected with this project to allow it to be anything than a community asset.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 29th, 2013 10:48 AM

I've seen the space and I'm picturing 51 separate households. Also, enforcing occupancy is notoriously difficult, when boyfriends/girlfriends and grown kids show up. It will start off fine, then suffer the inevitable creeping of undesirable elements that is the scourge of all low-income housing. I understand the good intentions behind this project, but I've watched this process happen before. If you've found a solution to this, please tell every other low-income housing development in the US.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 29th, 2013 10:37 AM

It's not an issue. People are not being crowded in to this development. Occupancy limits are stricty enforced and the property is subject to regular inspection of selected units and all common areas. The new units will provide housing for residents and those who work in our community. That's a benefit.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 29th, 2013 10:10 AM

Jim-It's likely that we do see things differently, although it's hard to say. I don't know how you see things. I continue to ask how it is expected that these new apartments will benefit the village. Neither you nor anyone else seems willing to answer. Crowding low-income people into limited space at a location nobody else wants has not always proven to be sound housing policy. I want to be wrong. Please explain why I'm wrong.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 29th, 2013 12:30 AM

We'll just have to agree that we see things differently.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 28th, 2013 11:17 PM

Jim-I still can't see how this development benefits the community in any way. I'm not judging the prospective residents. It's simply not in the best interest of any community to increase its number of low-income households. I've lived among low-income people. Don't imagine that poor people have particularly good hearts. I'm sure you're a nice man, but you sound naive. Live for a few years in a complex with dozens of low-income households. Then decide if this is good for Oak Park.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 28th, 2013 9:56 PM

There are not going to be 50 low income families living in crowded conditions in the new development. The Village of Oak Park enforces strict occupancy limits and I expect the property manager to follow the rules. I don't see any threat to the community posed by our new neighbors. These are folks who are either current residents or work in Oak Park and wish to live here. Jesus would advise us to judge others not by what's in their purse but in their hearts.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 28th, 2013 10:46 AM

Jim-Of course there are people of modest means residing in Oak Park. That doesn't make it a good idea to increase the number of low income households by 50. Are you suggesting that increasing the number of low-income households will somehow benefit the village? The links between household income and educational achievement and crime rate are established. I don't see the plus side of crowding 50 new low-income families into the community. Please explain it.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 28th, 2013 10:23 AM

OP Transplant, do you really think there are not any people of modest means, like those earning $25,800 to $29,450, currently residing in our community? How have they had a negative impact on life in Oak Park? Where's the statistical evidence that supports your position that ties them to local crime rates and school achievement?

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 28th, 2013 8:13 AM

Jim-If you're serious, Google "median household income and school achievement" and "the relationship between poverty and crime." But I think you already know what you'll find. You can also get your own unreliable anecdotal experience by living in low-income communities for twenty-five or so years, like I did. You can also get a graduate degree in a social sciences field. I did that too. But, hey, don't read the research or listen to people who have been there. Go with your heart. It's Oak Park!


Posted: September 28th, 2013 8:02 AM

"...the renovated 51 one-bedroom units..."? Renovated? This was a commercial building to which was added to more floors. The increased density was one of the major arguments by neighbors and others why this should not have been "built".

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 28th, 2013 8:02 AM

Jim-Are you truly claiming not to understand the relationships between median household income and both crime rate and school achievement? Is that honestly the argument you're going with? This is the first you're hearing of it? You didn't know that Hinsdale is considered a more desirable community than Austin because it is safer and has better schools? You yourself live in Oak Park instead of Englewood by sheer accident? At least debate honestly.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 11:19 PM

OP Transplant, please explain the disadvantages of living among people of low incomes. Personal experiences are generally ancedotal in nature and too often don't offer any verifiable details. Statistical analysis would be most helpful to support your position and provide important information.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 8:21 PM

Leah-I never said public housing; I said low income. The requirement to apply is, in fact, a low income. Please enlighten me on the advantages of living among people with low incomes. Keep in mind though, that I spent much of my life living among people with low incomes. I'm in no hurry to go back.

Leah from Forest Park  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 7:18 PM

The Grove is not public housing and the apartments are affordable but not particularly cheap. There are many hard working people such as teacher assistants, CNA, retail employees and group workers who earn under $27,000 per year. There are also many people who are receiving disability and have difficulty climbing stairs. It is insulting to say that the folks applying are not hard working or just receiving a hand-out. I grew up working poor as my unionized father could only get seasonal work.

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 2:47 PM

fred - Like you, I grew up with little money and spent years in the military, college, and grad school to be in a position to live in a community like Oak Park. It bothers me to see that which my wife and I worked so hard for just given away to people who haven't worked for it. I think, though, that this way of thinking is difficult to understand for those who grew up in relative affluence, and for whom living in a more affluent community seems normal.


Posted: September 27th, 2013 1:31 PM

..receive more, in what they are given, than many of us in what we have earned. It sends the wrong message over time. We left the ghetto because my dad, with a GED, worked and worked and worked, and took a better job when he could. We never were rich but somebody didn't just give us a home. I have never been able to get how you think you'll change peoples' lives for generations to come because you put them in a house that looks nice. A driven person left in the hood still will fare better.


Posted: September 27th, 2013 1:27 PM

@ b. sipp, No one has to remember everyone isn't wealthy. No one said they are against helping low income people. The recent ideas for "affordable housing" I have heard don't make much sense to me. I am not wealthy. I am married and have three. There are three college degrees between us, military service, civic engagement, as well as full-time employment. I drive a hoopty and I live in an old building in less than desirable neighborhood. It's confusing when the people that have less than us..

OP Transplant  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 1:22 PM

Someone please explain to me how it benefits the village to increase its number of low-income residents. Is the school district clamoring for more low-income students? Do local businesses prefer residents with less money to spend? Do communities with lower household incomes report lower crime statistics?

b. sipp from chicago  

Posted: September 27th, 2013 11:31 AM

What is so wrong with helping low income people, the seven comments that I read seem to be on the negative side, they have to remember everyone isn't wealthy.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: February 21st, 2013 3:00 PM

Only in liberal looney land is spending $300k per unit for a SRO considered affordable housing. For that kind of money, they could have just bought single family homes around Oak Park and truly integrated deserving families into the community.


Posted: February 21st, 2013 1:40 PM

affordable housing is necessary. but if you truly care affordable housing build it next to a green park and give the people a chance to meet wealthy single home residents as thy neighbour. stop placing them in the weakest part of OP right in front of a dusty street. stop praising that we embraced affordable housing when it is only truly far away from your neighbourhood of whom made this decision.


Posted: February 21st, 2013 1:34 PM

why is this high dense affordable apt built right in front of madison steet edge? why increase density to the existing fabric? a positive things should also occur in the northern part of OP, why always here where density is already high around. simply NIMBY, probably decision makers all live in a single house away from this site. they decide to stuff these people in front of barren madison ave and pray that retail will boom. please move this project to northern OP next to a park

Edwin from Oak Park  

Posted: February 21st, 2013 1:09 PM

I wonder what kind of property tax revenue these units will provide, or was there some deal cut with Oak Park and the developers? I'll make sure to check the PINS when the next round of tax bills come out.

OP Resident 173 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 20th, 2013 7:42 AM

I was and am against this project, but man do I hope they get it right and that this development it is all that Ed Solan and his cronies claim it will be. Love the irony of the name you chose since the neighbors on Grove were heavily opposed to this project. The ball is in your court and the community is watching, Ed. I've never wanted more to be wrong about something.

Ken from Oak Park  

Posted: February 20th, 2013 6:39 AM

So the application deadline is eight days away and there's been 50 applications (some likely not qualified) for 51 units. Where is the overwhelming demand that was touted in the sales pitch for this? Will OPHA be diligent in background checks and placing OP residents/workers as promised or will they be accepting the least worst applicants in order to fill the units?

Marie Antoinette  

Posted: February 20th, 2013 6:15 AM

What I love about this is expectation that desperately poor people have computer and are reading and can make an application online. Perhaps if the future Grove SRO residents are hungry we can let them eat cake?

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