(Cook County) – The Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) today cut the ribbon at the Jane R. Pearlman Apartments to open two newly renovated high rise buildings, Jane R. Perlman and Victor Walchirk Apartments – both located in Evanston, Illinois.
HACC Executive Director Richard Monocchio was joined by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Sen. Daniel Biss (9th), Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, Evanston 1st Ward Alderman Judy Fiske, State Rep. Robin Gabel (18th), representatives from U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin’s office, IDHA Executive Director Audra Hamernik, HACC staff and residents from the Perlman Apartments in Evanston. The special guest of honor was the HACC’s oldest resident, Lucille Childress, who is 103 years old. Ms. Childress has been a resident at Perlman for more than 30 years.
This is the first project in Cook County to utilize the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program. The HACC has invested more than $25 million in the rehabilitation projects. RAD gives public housing authorities the ability to leverage public and private debt and equity in order to reinvest in the public housing stock. Additionally, the $25 million undertaking would not have been possible without the more than $3 million in HOME funds received from Cook County and the City of Evanston.
“I believed then, as I believe now, that there is a strong need for affordable housing for seniors and the disabled. And the need is growing. Between 2005 and 2014, the number of seniors spending more than half their household income on rent rose by 34 percent nationwide. That is a troubling statistic,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Roughly 1 in 7 Americans is over the age of 65. Now a person turns 65 every 10 seconds. By 2030, the number of persons 65 and older will reach 71.5 million.
HOME Partnership funds have been used in four HACC housing buildings with over 450 units of affordable housing for very low income seniors and disabled residents. Without HOME funds, these projects would not have happened and the buildings, built in the 1970s, would have outlived their useful life.
“Being able to age in place is priceless and we are taking bold steps now to meet the needs of an aging population who desperately need affordable housing that is safe and can accommodate people with disabilities. Our goal is to preserve our housing stock so that we have adequate living accommodations in place to make their quality of life and community affordable and welcoming,” said HACC Executive Director Richard Monocchio. HACC owns & operates six senior high rises and eight senior and/or disabled high rises. Perlman and Walchirk are the first senior/disabled HACC high rise buildings to be completely rehabilitated. Perlman and Walchirk were built in 1978. Albert Goedke and Armond King are currently under construction.
Approximately 102 residents currently reside at Perlman, and another 98 at Walchirk. Both buildings have 201 units available for seniors and disabled tenants. During the construction phase, residents were comfortably and conveniently relocated to other units inside the buildings to avoid any inconvenience.
Features that make the units accessible include wider doorways, lower counter tops, and curb less showers. Many of the features in the current housing stock is ill equipped to accommodate the growing need of older and impaired households, indicating an increasing need for home modifications that allow for maximum residential mobility as homeowners age. All of the common areas have also been upgraded to federal accessibility standards, with ramps and sensory units in each building.
Tenants are low income seniors and persons with a disability. Tenants whose income is at or below 60% of the area median income qualify to reside under the voucher program. The tenants pay 30% of their income toward rent, and federal subsidies cover the balance. The average income of current tenants is approximately $15,000.