The Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards honored over 1500 influential architects, designers, business leaders, neighborhood advocates and elected officials for their achievements in community development and architectural design. Ten organizations were recognized and three projects were winners of the awards, which were announced May 9 at McCormick Place for the 25th annual award ceremony, organized by Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Chicago.
Among the ten projects honored was Access Housing in Logan Square, the city’s first fully integrated affordable housing preservation, accessibility and integration program. It won The Polk Bros. Foundation Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Award for its preservation of affordable housing at risk because of expired subsidy contracts or physical deterioration.
Access Housing (3723 W. Palmer St.) was created with Home First, a partnership between long-time financier and developer IFF and renowned disability advocacy organization Access Living. Access Housing rescued 12 multi-family buildings from foreclosure and rehabbed them to be accessible, and transformed 13 vacant city lots into beautiful, accessible rental apartment buildings. Some of the buildings are also in Hermosa.
The affordable housing project fielded feedback from people with disabilities to make sure it fit their needs when designing the space. Fourteen of the units are wheelchair-accessible, and all apartments include unique design features, such as visual doorbells and alarms to accommodate people who are deaf, contrasting floor borders for people with low vision, and lever door handles and accessible appliances for those who might not have full use of their hands.
“We’re really proud to see that these buildings are functioning as part of the community,” said Access Housing’s Lead Developer Dena Bell in a press release. “It’s not identifiable from the outside as an affordable housing project, which is what is allowing people to live their lives independently in the community.”
Featured photo: Ashleigh Waylard/LISC Chicago