Cook County Board President Tony Preckwinkle joins others in ribbon cutting at Perlman Apartments.                              

Many elected and appointed officials gathered to celebrate the completion of renovations of the Jane R. Perlman Apartments, 1900 Sherman Ave., and the Victor Walchirk Apartments, 2300 Noyes St., on July 7. The buildings, which contain a total of 201 apartment units, are owned and operated by an affiliate of the Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC).

The buildings were built in 1978. Each building had extensive work performed on its exterior, and the interiors were “gutted” and renovated. The total redevelopment cost for both buildings was about $25 million.

All of the common areas were upgraded to make them compliant with federal accessibility standards, and 10 units in each building were made accessible.

The tenants in the building are low-income seniors and persons with a disability. Tenants whose income is at or below 60% of the area median income qualify to reside there under a voucher program. The tenants pay 30% of their income toward rent, and federal subsidies cover the balance. The average income of the current tenants is about $15,000 per year, according to a prepared statement issued by HACC.

HACC Executive Director Richard Monocchio said, “This project only happened because of political will.” He said City, County and State officials who backed the project “believe in helping people.”

“Being able to age in place is priceless, and we are taking bold steps now to meet the needs of an aging population who desperately need affordable housing that is safe and can accommodate people with disabilities,” Mr. Monocchio added. 

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said, “There is a strong need for affordable housing for seniors and the disabled.” In the last 10 years she said, “The number of seniors spending more than half of their income on rent rose by 34%.” She said national and State lawmakers need to increase the amount of rental assistance available to seniors.

State Senator Daniel Biss said the richness of life in Evanston is due to its diversity. With housing costs rising, and with more people being required to spend more than 50% of their income on housing, projects like the Perlman and Walchirk apartments are critical, he said.  “I hope this is not the end, but the beginning.” 

State Representative Robyn Gabel said, “Affordable housing is the essence of how people can live productive lives. For seniors, sometimes it’s the difference between living in this community and moving out and living in a nursing home. I’m thrilled we were able to rehab these buildings.”

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said, “Evanston is a rich community in many ways, but we have homeless children, homeless families. Evanston needs more affordable housing. This is terrific, but we have a crying need for more.”

The Illinois Housing Development Authority provided $1.5 million in tax credits for the project, which generated about $17 million in equity for the project. Cook County Bureau of Economic Development provided about $3.5 million in federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) funding; and the City of Evanston contributed about $110,000 in HOME funds.