Through the Community Ventures Program (CVP), JCUA provides zero-interest affordable housing and economic development loans to non-profit developers and community development groups.
Obtaining seed-funding for the earliest stages of affordable housing projects presents a major obstacle to non-profits and community development groups looking to create affordable housing development and rehab projects in Chicago. Often these groups lack the necessary inroads to standard funding sources. In the current economic environment, more and more frequently, even experienced groups are being turned down for loans by traditional lending institutions.
Since its inception, CVP has provided $4.5 million in no-interest loans which has leveraged an additional $46 million in funding for their projects. Funds from Community Ventures partners have made it possible for the construction, renovation and preservation of more than 3,600 units of affordable housing in neighborhoods including Englewood, Humboldt Park, Bronzeville, Lawndale, Little Village, Pilsen, Uptown, Albany Park and Woodlawn, among other Chicago communities.
By providing pre-development funds at no interest, JCUA enables both small and more established groups to successfully implement their affordable housing and economic development projects without creating prohibitive debt. These funds also help to boost community groups’ financial credibility, thereby helping them to obtain future funding from traditional sources and conventional lenders. Ultimately, JCUA hopes that its investments serve as a catalyst for future meaningful development in areas which need it most.
Currently, CVP has four active loans:
- Warren Apartments – CVP approved a loan to Heartland Housing (the housing arm of Heartland Alliance) to enable its development of Warren Apartments, a 75 unit mixed-income development. Warren Apartments will complement the 89 units of supportive housing at Heartland’s award-winning neighboring Harvest Commons apartments (renovated in 2013), and address the great need for affordable workforce housing in the rapidly gentrifying Near West Side and West Loop neighborhoods.
- Lincoln Park Interim Supportive Housing – CVP approved a $100,000 loan to Lincoln Park Community Services (LPCS) to develop 48 units of Interim Supportive Housing (ISH) in Chicago’s Old Town community. The project is part of a 68-unit development that will include an additional 20 units of permanent supportive housing on the same campus. LPCS is one of the most successful programs in the City, noted for returning homeless persons to stability and employment.
- The Hatchery – The Hatchery, a partnership between IFF, Accion Chicago and Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago, will be 80,000 square feet of new space for food and beverage entrepreneurs in East Garfield Park. This project will create jobs, build businesses and strengthen neighborhoods. It is predicted that over 900 jobs will be created in 5 years, 25 new local companies will be launched and more than 100 new products will be made.
- St. Leonard’s Ministry – Partnering with SLM’s culinary training program, Gracie’s Café opened in September 2013 to provide individuals with real world culinary and business experience before applying for work throughout the Chicago area. In 2015, Gracie’s Café trained 9 people, all of whom found jobs after graduating from the program.