More than $1 million will be funneled to various affordable housing efforts in Oak Park, including $500,000 to a recently proposed 37-unit building at the corner of South Oak Park Avenue and Van Buren Street.

The $500,000 for the proposed $14.6-million building by Boston-based Community Builders Inc., at 801 S. Oak Park Ave., makes up just part of the funding for the development. 

Community Builders recently secured housing tax credits through the Illinois Housing Development Authority, according to Kirk Albinson, project manager with Community Builders.

The village also gave preliminary approval send about $500,000 to Housing Forward and the Oak Park Homelessness Coalition. About $268,000 would be used to create a rental assistance program at the Raymond Showalter Residence, 324 N. Austin Blvd.

Housing Forward aims to create a five-year lease at the Showalter building – the money would be used to renovate the units. Another $230,000 would go to fund the general assistance program for people who are homeless or on the verge of being homeless.

The affordable housing fund also would make a loan of about $750,000 to $1 million to Mercy Housing for its rental housing project initially planned for Madison Street and Highland Avenue. 

That project called for 69 affordable units at that location, but a memo in the village board’s July 30 meeting packet indicated the location of that development might change.

“While it does not appear that Mercy Housing will be able to obtain site control of the property initially proposed, the proposed development could take place in other areas in the village,” the memo states.

While trustees largely supported plans for the affordable housing funds, some questioned the funding slated for Housing Forward and the Oak Park Homelessness Coalition.   

Trustee Deno Andrews said he worried about funding a program that did not have a regular funding stream.

“We’re opening a long-term commitment and not thinking of the long-term financing,” he said.

That would pose a difficult decision for a future board of trustees to cut a program for homeless people, Andrews said. 

Tammie Grossman, director of the village’s Development Customer Services Department, said funding for the program could continue with money from new developments coming online. 

She said the residential tower being built by Lexington Homes in the 900 block of Madison Street is expected to bring in about $210,000 for affordable housing, she said.

The village also could use funds from Mercy Housing, once the developer begins repaying its million-dollar loan, Grossman added.

“I’m not suggesting we don’t do good now, but we shouldn’t fund it without a plan,” Andrews said. 

Trustee Bob Tucker said he did not see the funding as the establishment of an ongoing program per se, but rather a one-time grant. 

“We’re going to help some people and do some real good,” Tucker said. “If it’s a tough decision for a future board, then it’s a tough decision.”

The board chose not to fund a $750,000-request from the West Cook YMCA to convert 40 of its single-room units to 23 studio apartments. It also rejected a $500,000 request from the Oak Park Residence Corporation to develop an affordable housing generation fund to create new affordable housing units in multi-family apartment buildings.

* This article was updated to correct the source of $210,000 headed to the village’s affordable housing fund.


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