City of Aurora turns elementary school into affordable housing in effort to end homelessness

Jasmine Minor Image
Wednesday, March 13, 2024
Aurora turns elementary school into affordable housing
A former city of Aurora, Illinois school has been turned into Fox Valley Apartments, affordable housing, in an effort to reduce homelessness.

AURORA, Ill. (WLS) -- A former Aurora elementary school is being transformed into affordable housing.

It's part of the city's mission to end homelessness.

The building that has been vacant for five years will now have a fresh start for those looking to get back on their feet.

The doors are open at Fox Valley Apartments, and that means dreams are limitless for those like Tyshema Washington.

"You come into a living room with nice beautiful windows," Washington said. "I would love to live here."

Washington said she's spent two and half years living on the streets of Aurora.

"What I went through, I learned never to go back," Washington said.

Now, she's moving forward, determined to put her application in to the new Fox Valley Apartments as soon as possible.

"She'll send me the application, I'll print it out, and wherever her office is, I'll walk it in there," Washington said.

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The formerly vacant elementary school is part of the city of Aurora's plan to make sure any available space is being used to give back to the community, in this case, affordable housing.

"Administration is committed to providing hundreds of new housing options across the city by redeveloping underutilized and formerly vacant buildings," Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin said.

Some of those buildings have been vacant for over 70 years.

But, the one on Oak Avenue has more than just apartments, it also has a health care clinic for uninsured or underinsured families.

"We saw during COVID is how important housing and health intersect. So, this is definitely an amazing effort to be able to provide both of those in one spot," said Shelly Tucciarelli, Visionary Ventures' executive director.

Tucciarelli is executive director of the organization behind the project.

She said housing costs have increased 30% over the last three years. It's why these apartments are for families making between $18,000 and $63,000 a year.

"You have to have stability in order to get a job, and, in order to get a job, you need housing. So they all work together," Tucciarelli said.

"There's people out here that will help you," Washington said. "Get up, get out here."