CVP Loans Are Making An Impact Today

March 26, 2015

By Sarah Gold
JCUA Manager of Community Building

As part of my ‘initiation’ into my new role leading JCUA’s Community Ventures Program (CVP), I had the opportunity to visit and touch base with each of our current projects. Here is a snapshot of how JCUA’s loan fund is being used to make a difference by supporting three essential affordable housing and economic development projects throughout Chicago.

Breaking Ground – Rehabbing of Foreclosed homes

Current redevelopment two-flat project.

Current redevelopment two-flat project.

Breaking Ground, Inc. is a community-based organization on the west side of Chicago, which provides leadership development, manufacturing job training, and employment in construction and related fields to residents of Lawndale and Garfield Park. Breaking Ground is working to rehabilitate abandoned and foreclosed homes in West Lawndale, Berwyn, Bellwood, Maywood, and Austin. In 2011, JCUA provided a zero-interest loan of $90,000 to support housing redevelopment work.

Interior under construction.

Interior under construction.

As of today, Breaking Ground has leveraged the CVP loan and is redeveloping and selling 45 homes as follows:

► Sold – 26 units
► In construction / completed waiting to be sold – 13 units
► Under Contract to acquire – 6 units

JCUA’s loan is enabling Breaking Ground to continually rehab multiple properties at once. I had the opportunity to visit two homes, one under construction and one under contract to be sold. When visiting with Breaking Ground, Josh DeGraff, Director of Housing stated, “Without the much needed help from the JCUA loan keeping our contractors working we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish the great things we have done in the Chicagoland affordable housing community during the past few years. We are very thankful for Breaking Ground’s partnership with JCUA.” Learn more about Breaking Ground.

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Rosenwald Courts, Recipient of JCUA Community Ventures Loan, Celebrates Groundbreaking

February 23, 2015
From Left: David Roos, Landwhite Developers LLC, Peter Ascoli, grandson of Julius Rosenwald, and Judy Levey, Exec. Dir. of JCUA

From Left: David Roos, Landwhite Developers LLC, Peter Ascoli, grandson of Julius Rosenwald, and Judy Levey, Exec. Dir. of JCUA

February 18, 2015, marked the long-awaited ground breaking for the redevelopment of the historic Rosenwald Building in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. Gathered together in a small, heated tent at the site, Alderman Pat Dowell emceed the event as long-time community members, the development team and supporters celebrated this momentous occasion.

Through its Community Ventures Program, JCUA provided a zero-interest, pre-development loan of $100,000 in the early stages of the project. JCUA invested in this project at a time when others would not, in part because of a longstanding feeling of connection to the neighborhood. As Julius Rosenwald, the original developer, once was inspired to invest in supporting and creating quality affordable housing and vibrant retail, so too was JCUA when approached by the new developer, Landwhite, in 2012. To learn more about the project, visit JCUA’s earlier blog post.

Once complete, the newly renovated Rosenwald Apartments will have 239 one and two-bedroom units of senior and family affordable housing, two-acres of usable courtyard green space, as well as 40,000 square feet of retail and office space along 47th Street. This development will serve as a major catalyst for other redevelopment opportunities throughout Bronzeville and JCUA is proud to be a part of making this project possible. This once iconic, bustling hot spot in Bronzeville is finally getting the much needed attention it deserves to revive this community anchor, as it was in its glory days.

JCUA Executive Director, Judy Levey, JCUA Manager of Community Building, Sarah Gold, and Community Ventures Program Advisory Council member Ralph Brown attended the event, along with long-time JCUA supporter Peter Ascoli.

JCUA salutes the late community activist and friend Bobbie Johnson, whose tireless work to save the Rosenwald is no longer just a dream.


‘Thank You for Making Mayfair Commons a Priority for JCUA’

September 18, 2014
Mayfair Commons

A pre-development loan of $100,000 from JCUA’s Community Ventures Program will help support the redevelopment of Mayfair Commons in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago.

By Judy Levey
JCUA Executive Director

“Preserving housing stock.” It’s a phrase that sounds official and impersonal. Occasionally, though, we are reminded that there are human stories behind the bureaucratic language.

After reading our recent update on JCUA’s financial involvement in a redevelopment project, Rev. C. J. Hawking, executive director of Arise Chicago, sent me this note:

Judy,

I am writing to thank JCUA for your support of the Mayfair Commons [a 97-unit senior citizen residence at 4444 W. Lawrence in Chicago].

Back in 1997, I was the pastor of Mayfair United Methodist Church and our church leader, Jean Chapman, who had worked hard all of her life, did not have a decent home to which she could retire. Jean was an amazing, dynamic leader and I admired her very much.

Rev. C.J. Hawking, Arise Chicago

Rev. C.J. Hawking, Arise Chicago

When the Mayfair Commons opened, we were all so excited. I wrote a letter of recommendation for Jean and met with the managers. She was the perfect candidate for them and they soon discovered that to be the case.

Jean moved in and a large number of us went there to celebrate with her! It was a perfect place for her and she so deserved to live in such a nice place. I visited her there many more times and I just loved the place! We need 300 more like them in the city.

A few years later Jean died of a sudden heart attack. I think about her a lot and what a special woman she was to me and so many others.

I am so grateful that she had Mayfair Commons as her home base.

So, thank you for stepping up and making Mayfair Commons a priority for JCUA. I am so very moved that you would help folks there feeling cared for and safe.

Be well, CJ


JCUA September Newsletter

September 10, 2014

In the September issue of the JCUA newsletter…

  • Cantors to sing for expanded trauma care.
  • JCUA invests in senior citizen housing.
  • Membership meetings build toward selection of issues.
  • JCUA stands with the striking employees of Golan’s moving.
  • Nate Seeskin joins JCUA as AVODAH organizing fellow.

Read it now!


JCUA August Newsletter

August 12, 2014
JCUA's latest newsletter is now online here.

JCUA’s latest newsletter is now online here.

In the August issue of the JCUA newsletter…

  • Mimi Harris makes the news
  • JCUA members focus on leadership…and change
  • Deborah Goldberg to lead Or Tzedek
  • Rebecca Katz reflects on three years as JCUA’s director of teen programs
  • JCUA supports affordable housing in Albany Park
  • Vigil and coffeeshop discussion at Broadview

Read it now!


Community Development Projects Supported by JCUA Receive Driehaus Foundation Awards

February 28, 2014

By Judy Levey
JCUA Executive Director

At an event known as the Oscars of community development in Chicago, two projects supported by JCUA won awards last week.

It was the 20th anniversary of the annual Community and Neighborhood Development Awards. Ten projects received awards acknowledging significant real estate developments, architecture, community organizing and individual achievements in a variety of areas. 

Two of the projects were supported, in part, by zero-interest loans from JCUA’s Community Ventures Program. Landon Bone Baker Architects was the award-winning firm in both cases. Both of these projects won Richard H. Driehaus Foundation awards for architectural excellence.  

Gracie’s Café

Last year, JCUA assisted St. Leonard’s Ministries on the start-up of Gracie’s Café, a component of Harvest Commons which provides job training to formerly incarcerated people living in the building.  The café, located at 1517 W. Warren Blvd., is now operating and adds to the vibrancy of the development and neighborhood.

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Gracie’s Cafe: Building Community One Cup At A Time

December 3, 2013

Gracie’s Café is the latest project of JCUA’s Community Ventures Program, which provides zero-interest loan for community development projects.  A long time coming, St. Leonard’s Ministries was able to open the doors of Gracie’s Café in September 2013 with a final push from a CVP economic development loan of $50,000. 

by Beth Filipiak
Organizing and Community Development Intern, JCUA

Gracies Cafe MenuChicagoans can certainly have their choice among coffee shops and cafés, but a few months ago in the Near West Side, a new café opened that is worth much more than a passing glance before heading onto something more familiar.  You won’t regret it.

Gracie’s Café is the latest venture of St. Leonard’s Ministry (SLM), an organization with almost 60 years’ experience of providing comprehensive residential, case management and employment development services for formerly incarcerated men and women.

Gracies Cafe from Chicago Gazette article Robert Dougherty Mike Ellert LaTonya Carter and Walter Boyd

Left to right: Bob Dougherty (from SLM), Mike Ellert (cafe manager), LaTonya Carter (cafe staff) and Walter Boyd (SLM director).

Each year, approximately 250-275 formerly incarcerated individuals reside in SLM’s four housing programs:  St. Leonard’s House, Grace House, St. Andrew’s Court and the Harvest Commons Residence, which opened late this summer in partnership with Heartland Alliance and is located in what was formerly known as the Viceroy Hotel.

Gracie’s Café, brightly lit and eco-friendly, is located on the ground floor next to the Harvest Commons garden.  In the summer there is patio seating and in the winter, friends can gather together inside and enjoy delicious year round Intelligentsia coffee and other warm beverages, light freshly prepared breakfast and lunch dishes, as well as Bridgeport Bakery pastries like apple squares and their season pumpkin bars.

The cafe staff

The cafe staff

Along with the great food and drink, customers can enjoy the warm feeling of knowing that they are supporting a great training program.

Gracie’s Café is staffed with graduates of SLM’s Culinary Skills program, which is run by its Employment Center.  As graduates of the training program, Gracie’s Cafe staff now receives valuable work experience and has the opportunity to meet with a job counselor to help them further their careers.

After training and working at Gracie’s Cafe, SLM’s goal is to move employees to stable, permanent jobs in communities and bring on new graduates to help them do the same.

As much more than a café, Gracie’s is definitely worth stopping by. Grab a cup of coffee, a bite to eat or ask about their catering options.  They are also a great venue for smaller meetings, gatherings and just a great atmosphere.

Gracie’s Cafe in the Media:

Check out their recent feature in Gazette Chicago, and watch for more information on when they will be featured in Chicago’s own 30 Good Minutes, by the Sunday Evening Club on PBS.

Cafe Info:

  • 1519 W. Warren Blvd (plenty of street parking available!)
  • M-F: 7am – 2pm; S: 8am – 2pm
  • 312.492.8800
  • Visit and Like them on Facebook

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