Like many in our neighborhood, we wanted more information when we heard that the Comcast building was being considered for development as a rental for low income residents. So, last week we took a tour of other properties developed (in partnership with local groups) by the Interfaith Housing Development Corporation (IHDC). We were impressed. All were extremely well-maintained, security was evident, social services were available, and tenants took great pride in their homes. This model would be continued in the Comcast proposal.

Each of IHDC’s projects has had a target population, and this one would be the working poor. The Oak Park Housing Authority, one of the partners, has a list of 400 people who live or work in Oak Park, many of whom would fit this target group. The other partner, Catholic Charities, would provide on-going social service support after the facility was rented. All the partners have a long history of community involvement and are well-respected in their fields.

This proposal is not for an institution, a half-way house, or a re-hab center. It is a rental building for the working poor. Tenants will be rigorously screened to be sure they meet the criteria. They will pay rent based on their income. The building will NOT be a non-profit, so it WILL pay taxes, bringing more income back to the community. Zoning variation requests will be minimal and seem reasonable, given the needs of those who would be renting the units.

This is a complex proposal and there are yet many questions to be answered. But after studying IHDC’s proposal, talking with those who are experts in working with housing for the working poor, taking the tour of IHDC’s properties, and searching our hearts, we are on record in support of the project and hope to work with IHDC to make this a reality. We encourage others to take a tour with IHDC to check out the possibilities. (Call Bridgette Harris at 312-274-8200 x 27 for information on dates.) We think this development fits the values and character of Oak Park.

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