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!


Green ReEntry Project is Completed on the Southwest Side

May 13, 2014
Green ReEntry House ribbon cutting

The marching band from Fairfield Elementary, across the street from the house on Fairfield, enhances the celebration (more photos).

City housing advocates are celebrating the completion of an unusual housing project on Chicago’s Southwest Side.

On April 28, JCUA joined city and foundation officials and others to celebrate the Inner City-Muslim Action Network’s ribbon cutting on 6210 S. Fairfield. The house, which was the second project completed by the Green ReEntry crew, was the culmination of tremendous efforts of an unconventional idea that went far beyond the confines of a typical bricks and mortar project.

The Green ReEntry crew is made up of formerly incarcerated individuals who are reclaiming their lives through leadership training, community engagement, and learning construction skills (learn more about Green ReEntry).

“We would never have been able to acquire this home if community partners and organizers from the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, Southwest Organizing Project and others across the city didn’t come together three years ago through the Multifaith Housing Reclamation Campaign to help us mobilize with our local leaders around this home,” said IMAN’s Alia Bilal who served as emcee that morning.

Read the rest of this entry »


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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Community Development that Transforms Houses into Homes

August 27, 2013

by Beth Filipiak
JCUA Intern, Community Development

What really makes a house a home? Is it the flooring, or the façade? The paint colors or the appliances? Or rather is it the opportunity to actually call a place your own – a place for you and your family to live, to grow and to engage the community? To build that community spirit and connection, to know that this house, and the community, are yours.

Ownership is important, and that is the philosophy guiding the Breaking Ground organization as they continue to rehabilitate houses in neighborhoods like North Lawndale, Hermosa and Austin. They then sell them at below market rates, assist buyers in receiving additional government subsidies, and provide a one year guarantee on all of their construction work.

They see their work as part of a long term strategy of not only building homes, but also of building lives and the communities around them. Because of the care and dedication they put forward in their work, many of the homeowners maintain their relationship with Breaking Ground, knowing that this organization is also part of their community.

Taking a recent tour of the project were (photo at upper left) Ralph Brown, Kaitlyn Wiedeman, David Midgely, Roberta Nechin, Josh DeGraff, Zachary Braun and Judy Levey. Wiedeman and DeGraff are with Breaking Ground. Brown, Midgely, Nechin and Braun are JCUA leaders. Levey is JCUA's executive director.

Taking a recent tour of the project were (photo at upper left) Ralph Brown, Kaitlyn Wiedeman, David Midgely, Roberta Nechin, Josh DeGraff, Zachary Braun and Judy Levey. Wiedeman and DeGraff are with Breaking Ground. Brown, Midgely, Nechin and Braun are JCUA leaders. Levey is JCUA’s executive director.

As a 2010 recipient of a zero-interest loan from JCUA’s Community Ventures Program, Breaking Ground is part of the JCUA community. Hence, members of the Community Ventures Program Advisory Committee went to the North Lawndale community to see the results of their dedication first hand.

The committee learned that this particular grey stone house was scheduled for demolition before Breaking Ground was able to take over. It had been vacant, unsecured, and needed major infrastructure updates.

Now, the original hardwood floors have been beautifully rehabbed, the walls painted, the bathroom tiled, the kitchen cabinets and counters redone and all major systems are more than up to code. Standing there in the house, it was difficult to imagine that it had ever been considered for demolition. Yet without Breaking Ground, it would have most likely been a vacant lot. Instead, the Breaking Ground staff are putting the finishing touches into a future home for a family that would not have been able to live there otherwise, and the neighborhood will have another family with a place to call home.

Home ownership is a dream for too many people. There are too many people in Chicago who need a place to live. As of January 2013, the Chicago Housing Authority had a wait list with more than 85,000 people, while they still have over 2,000 empty (“offline”) units. A July 2013 study estimated that 116,042 Chicagoans were homeless in the 2012-2013 school year, a 10% increase from the previous year.

Affordable housing continues to be a great need, and may seem overwhelming at times, yet JCUA continues to work toward a more affordable Chicago. To learn more about JCUA’s Community Ventures Program, click here.


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