Historic Lawson House Chicago creates affordable housing for homeless population in Gold Coast

Leah Hope Image
Monday, April 1, 2024
Historic Lawson House creates affordable housing opportunities
Mayor Brandon Johnson also appointed Sendy Soto as the city's first-ever chief homelessness officer along with the Lawson House Chicago ceremony.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- On Monday, a grand opening ceremony was held for Chicago's historic Lawson House to provide affordable housing on the city's North Side.

The Lawson House first opened in the 1930s as a YMCA on West Chicago Avenue. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its cultural and architectural legacy.

It's now been redeveloped and turned into more than 400 single-room occupancy or affordable studio apartments in the Gold Coast, set aside for unhoused men and women.

"It is also putting people in position to build brighter futures for themselves and to ultimately thrive in this great city," Mayor Brandon Johnson said.

Apartment residents will also have access to supportive services.

The renovation is done on many of the units.

Andy Muentes is among the new tenants.

"Once I got here and saw what we had, there is no other way to put it other then fantastic," Muentes said.

The current project started with a sale of the building for $1 to Peter Holsten, with an agreement to maintain affordable housing for 50 years.

The mayor also announced SenDy Soto as the city's first-ever chief homelessness officer during Monday's ribbon cutting.

Soto will coordinate a five-year plan to address homelessness in Chicago.

"Chicago joins a small group of cities that takes a bold step of creating a dedicated position to ensure every resident has access to safe, stable and affordable housing," Soto said.

Last month, a referendum to create new funds to address homelessness failed on the ballot.

It would have increased real estate tax on million-dollar homes, and earmarked that money to assist getting people into stable housing.

It's estimated 68,000 Chicagoans are without homes. So far 150 have moved into Lawson House.

"It is my sincere desire that every resident takes pride in residing in a city that is committed to housing justice," Soto said.

Renovations on the building are continuing, and all 400 units are expected to available in a few weeks.