First affordable housing initiative for Chicago’s Native American community underway
Bernie Tafoya WBBM Newsradio 780 AM & 105.9 FM
December 10, 2021
CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Groundbreaking is estimated to be about a year away for an apartment complex specifically for Native Americans in Chicago and it comes 50 years after the push first began for such a project.
“The stars have aligned,” said Shelly Tucciarelli who is part of the Oneida tribal nation and is executive director of Visionary Ventures, a Native American non-profit which is partnering with another non-profit, Full Circle Communities to develop a badly- needed apartment complex for Native Americans.
Tucciarelli said it would be built at 2907 Irving Park Rd. in the Irving Park neighborhood on the border with the Albany Park community in which many Native Americans live and where Native American services are located.
She said three out of every five Native Americans in Chicago is a renter and most of then are “rent burdened.”
There are about 60,000 Native Americans in the Chicago area with about half of them in the city itself, according to Tucciarelli.
She said the complex will have studios to three-bedroom units.
“We want that intergenerational access so that we can have our elders still teaching our youth and storytelling.”
Tucciarelli said it’s important more Native Americans live together.
“When we were doing some of our focus groups, some of the families, the children, want to go to the same school so they’re not the only Native American in their class.”
“We want to have space on the roof for the gardens ‘cause we have a lot of natural medicines that we grow and we want to be able to do that and let the elders, you know, perform some ceremonies.”
Tucciarelli said the developers want to design the complex so it will be obvious to that it’s a Native American project.
“There’s going to be some wood features and, maybe like, a water design, you know so that, ‘cause water is life for the Native American community and we really respect that and it’s a big part of our lives.”
It’s estimated the complex will cost up between $18- $22 million, which will come mostly from low-income tax credits. Tucciarelli said developers also plan to reach out to 150 tribal nations, which are represented in Chicago and ask for donations, whether it’s money or furnishings.
She expects groundbreaking to be late next year or early 2023 with the complex completed in early 2024.
Tucciarelli said there has been great help from the city of Chicago in moving the project along and that the city’s Department of Housing is the one that made the initial contact to start the effort.