By Aaron Gettinger, Hyde Park Herald
Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), which owns 1,200 units reserved for income-eligible Chicago renters, is set to begin a year-long renovation of the 122-unit Greenwood Park Apartments along 47th Street in early 2019.
Greenwood Park was built as affordable housing in 1974 and includes one-, two- and three-bedroom units across 15 two- or three-story walk-up buildings between Ellis and Woodlawn avenues. POAH purchased the development in 2016 and has been trying to refinance and raise money to rehabilitate it since then.
“There’s pretty significant need, because the property hasn’t really been rehabbed in any substantial way since it was built,” said POAH Chicago Area Vice President Bill Eager. “There’s a lot of deferred maintenance.”
This year, POAH got low-income housing credits from the Illinois Housing Development Authority, and on Nov. 14, the City Council lent the organization $2.5 million in federal low-income housing funds for 32 years at no interest.
Eager said POAH will close on refinancing next week.
Planned work includes the replacement of all roofs and windows as well as some structural and foundational repairs. In units, there are some planned kitchen and bathroom updates, specifically plumbing. In Greenwood Park’s shared courtyard, POAH plans to plant 60 new trees and install new picnic tables and grills.
“Some of it is driven simply by the age of the buildings, and some of it is driven by what the residents want,” said Eager.
The plan is to use vacancies in the development to house residents while their units are being rehabilitated, but Eager said POAH will pay the costs of any temporary relocations.
All of Greenwood Park is subject to rent and income restrictions. Ninety of its units are set aside for people living at 50 percent or below of the area median income: $42,300 for a household of four, or just under $30,000 for an individual. Another tier of apartments are for people who make up to 80 percent of the area median income, $67,700 for a household of four, and another is for those making up to the area median income, $84,600 for a household of four.
“We’re talking about workforce housing,” said Eager. “It’s all affordable, and it will remain that way.” He said there will be “really modest” rent increases over time, but they will be limited by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Eager said POAH has been active in Chicago for around 10 years, mostly in Woodlawn, and is funded through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and some federal money. It owns around 1,200 units around Chicago and is in the process of buying another 400.
“We think it’s a really important preservation deal, given its location on 47th Street and some of the other development pressures that seem to exist around there,” Eager said. “We think it’s right in our sweet spot and a perfect opportunity to preserve affordable housing in a part of the city where it could be endangered otherwise.”