"It was painful to listen to students break down in tears during class as they shared their experiences, having to leave their apartments on short notice because the new owners wanted them out immediately," said Steve Vidal, a teacher at Benito Juarez High School.
Vidal reached out to The Resurrection Project, which celebrated a ground breaking Thursday for Casa Durango, new affordable housing in Pilsen.
"We welcome newcomers, but we also want the families who have been here for many years to benefit from the prosperity of neighborhood development," said Raul Raymundo, CEO and co-founder, The Resurrection Project.
Casa Durango's 53-unit, multi-family affordable rental housing project will be spread across two properties, one located at 19th Street and Racine Avenue and the other located near 21st and Ashland Avenue.
"Making room for families and affordability has got to be a mission that all of us are on," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.
The financing involves all levels of government, and more. The building project is being funded by a 9% low income housing tax credit allocation from the city of Chicago and investment from the National Equity Fund.
"This is a true example of public, private, nonprofit, public sector partnership that is truly going to deliver and benefit at a local level," said Matt Reilein, CEO, National Equity Fund.
The apartments are for households earning between $28K-$56K annually for a family of four. The new, modern units will be two to three bedroom apartments and as the mayor said they give families the room they need. It will also give residents with disabilities a place to live.
The Chicago Housing Authority and the state will also offer vouchers for 14 of the units.
"Development doesn't have to mean displacement," Lightfoot said. "As the community's fortunes rise, the long-term residents are actually the beneficiaries...because as they are able to stay in their community in affordable housing."
Casa Durango is the latest groundbreaking. The Resurrection Project has another effort underway right now in Back of the Yards, where modular homes are being built. The first one belongs to 26-year-old David Mata.
"There's programs like TRP, what they are doing right now. If you really want to own a home, in a middle class family. It's possible," Mata said.
TRP wants to transform dozens of vacant lots on the South and West Sides into modular homes. So whether you're looking for an affordable home or rental unit, they are being built in Chicago.
The groundbreaking coincided with Mexican Independence Day and Hispanic Heritage Month. Construction is expected to be completed fall 2022.