For years, dozens of Lathrop's buildings stood nearly or entirely empty as the riverside neighborhood around them gentrified. Credit: Jason Reblando

A lottery for those who want to live in the newly revamped Lathrop on the north side is now open for nearly 100 affordable housing units set to be unveiled starting this summer.

Last week the development team behind the former Lathrop Homes—a 925-unit north-side Chicago Housing Authority project first opened in 1938—announced the drawing for waiting list spots for 91 one- , two- , or three-bedroom apartments. Those interested in the units, to be completed in the first phase of the redevelopment, have until June 1 to apply.

“We knew that the demand would be high for the affordable units here, and we wanted to make sure that the process and access to getting on the wait list was fair,” says Sarah Wick, a senior associate with Related Midwest. The developer has partnered with Heartland Housing and Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation to form Lathrop Community Partners, the group remaking of one of Chicago’s oldest public housing complexes into a mixed-income community.

The redeveloped Lathrop will ultimately have 1,116 apartments—494 leased at market rates, 400 public housing units, and 222 affordable units. “Each residence, regardless of the resident’s income, will contain identical features and finishes, all reflecting modern designs,” Lathrop Community Partners promised in a press release. The first tenants are expected to move in this August.

Affordable housing units are intended for those making 80 percent of area median income or less. But there is also a floor to how little households can make to qualify. The federal government judges housing to be affordable if paying for it does not claim more than 30 percent of a family’s income. According to information Lathrop Community Partners has posted online, the minimum household income required for one- , two- , and three-bedroom affordable units at the site are $28,560; $34,290; and $39,600 respectively. Rent prices are estimated to be $868; $1,040; and $1,199 respectively. The developer says the prices are approximate and no one will pay more than 30 percent of household income in rent for affordable units.

Already, more than 530 people have applied for the lottery, Wick says.  After the registration period closes on June 1, the list of applicants will be reviewed to exclude duplicate applications and any other errors, then sent to a third-party auditor who will create a randomized list of names in an Excel spreadsheet. LCP will begin approaching those applicants starting from the top to complete the necessary screening. In addition to income verification, LCP will conduct credit and criminal background checks. Those who don’t sign up for the lottery by June 1 will still be able to register for the waiting list on a rolling basis, though their names will be added to the bottom of the list.

“We’re gonna take as many names as possible. We’re not going to close this off,” Wick says.

All-new Lathrop apartments will include stainless steel appliances, quartz kitchen counter tops, and in-unit washers and dryers.Credit: Lathrop Community Partners

LCP has a different process in place to draw tenants to the 151 public housing units that will be part of the first phase of redevelopment, which  includes six four-bedroom units available only to CHA tenants. First priority will be given to the 140 households who were still living at Lathrop when new construction began at the end of September 2017. After that, units will be offered to those CHA residents who have been displaced by the Plan for Transformation and have indicated that Lathrop would be their top housing choice. There are 121 such households, according to the CHA’s last quarterly report—most, though not all, are from the original Lathrop community. Finally, units will become available for households on the CHA’s public housing waiting list.

The first phase of the 34-acre redevelopment is concentrated on the north side of Diversey Avenue, where 16 historic buildings are in the process of being gutted and renovated. In addition to the residential buildings, the redeveloped Lathrop Homes will include 17 acres of open space with elaborate landscaping, kayak launches, a dog park, and new playground.  There will also be some commercial space in the main administration building.

Though the redevelopment of Lathrop will increase the overall density on the site, advocates have long bemoaned the net loss of public housing units in what is today a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood near jobs and amenities. At the start of the Plan for Transformation and until about 2006, the CHA had promised to fully rehab Lathrop as 100 percent public housing, something which was done at the Dearborn Homes on the south side and the Brooks Homes on the near west side. Negotiations over converting the property to mixed-income housing dragged on for a decade, with dozens of sometimes contentious meetings with community members, residents, affordable housing advocates, and the CHA. The master plan for the site has been overhauled several times due to concerns over proposed new building heights, historic preservation, and tenant selection plans. Ultimately, there will be 525 fewer public housing units on the site, though the CHA has entered into a court-monitored agreement to replace them elsewhere on the north side. The agency could not provide an update on how many, if any, of those units have been created so far.

To enter the lottery for the affordable housing waiting list at the new Lathrop and to find out more about the development, click here. Registration for the lottery will close at midnight June 1.

This story has been updated.

The Lathrop redevelopment will include a revamp of the riverfront with new recreational amenities like kayak launches and landscaping highlighting native flora.Credit: Lathrop Community Partners