After long-standing advocacy efforts by Indigenous community leaders and local housing proponents, the City of Chicago has offered financial backing to a new affordable housing development specifically for Native residents. It will be the first housing complex specifically designed to serve the Indigenous community in the city of Chicago, which was built on land stewarded by people from the Ojibwe, Odawa, Potawatomi, Miami, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Sac, Fox, Kickapoo, and Illinois Nations.
Located at 2907 West Irving Park Road in the Irving Park neighborhood of northwest Chicago, the development is one of 24 housing projects to win monetary support from a billion-dollar municipal funding pool amassed through low-income housing tax credits. Intended to combat rampant displacement and gentrification, the distribution of the funding pool will give rise to a number of affordable housing schemes on the city’s historically underserved West and South Sides.
The building on W. Irving Park Road is the result of a collaboration between two Illinois nonprofits: Visionary Ventures, which aims “to provide opportunities for housing, jobs and services to create a better everyday life for Native American, under-served and low-income populations,” and Full Circle Communities, which promotes and develops affordable housing across the city.
According to Block Club Chicago, 2907 W. Irving Park Road will feature an undetermined number of studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units, as well as on-site social support services, a community room and kitchen, a roof garden, storage facilities, a laundry room, free parking spaces, and a 3,500 square-foot commercial space on the ground floor.
Shelly Tucciarelli, president of Visionary Ventures and an enrolled member of the Oneida Nation, told Block Club Chicago that the development proposal came to fruition after years of advocacy on behalf of Native communities. Chicago is home to a large and vibrant Indigenous population, but their dispersal across the city often makes it difficult to build community and pass down knowledge and traditions.
Lindsey Haines, senior vice president of Full Circle Communities, also noted the importance of the on-site services planned for the project: “This development will deliver long-awaited affordable housing, amenities, and wrap-around services while complementing the tremendous community development work happening in Chicago’s Native community.”
While the city has offered its backing to the development scheme, 2907 W. Irving Park Road will have to undergo a review and community approval process led by Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez, the alderperson of the 33rd Ward. The height of the apartment building and the number of units it contains are yet to be finalized, but advocates hope that it can begin to mitigate the mounting risk of housing insecurity and displacement in the area.