United for Better Living (UBL), a West Garfield Park human services nonprofit, will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for a four-story, 43-unit affordable apartment building that will be built at 4531-59 W. Washington Blvd., across the street from its headquarters at 4540 W. Washington Blvd.

Rev. David Todd Whittley, the president of United for Better Living, said that his organization wanted to provide good housing that would still be affordable to an average community resident. 

He described the C.A.R.E. Manor as a part of the nonprofit’s mission to serve West Garfield Park. It will have 30 two-bedroom units and 13 three-bedroom units, with rents based on what the average rent is in the community. 

The project will cost $18 million, with some of the funding coming from the Chicago Department of Housing. Whittley expects the development to be finished in the summer of 2022. While the construction isn’t expected to start until early next year, the nonprofit wanted to do a groundbreaking event on Oct. 9 to let the community know that the project is coming. 

A West Side nonprofit wants to build a 43-unit affordable apartment building at 4531-59 W. Washington Blvd. | Google Earth

The nonprofit was founded by Bennie Allison, the founding pastor of the nearby Corinthian Temple Church of God In Christ, 4520 W. Washington Blvd., where Whitley currently pastors. 

Originally established in 1983 to provide scholarship programs for West Garfield Park youth, it has since significantly expanded its mission to include tutoring and GED preparation, various after-school and summer programs, computer training, clothing drives and networking events for local businesses.

In recent years, the federal government and many West Side nonprofits have pointed to the lack of good, affordable housing for families as a major need. Whittley said that, in his experience, there are people who want to live in West Garfield Park, but it’s just a matter of finding a place where they will feel safe and secure.

“We just see this as another opportunity for us to make the community better,” he said. “People do want to live in decent housing, and that’s why we’re building this project, right across the street from our community center.”

Whittley said that the building will be accessible to people with disabilities. It will have a playground, 23 car parking stalls and 18 bike parking stalls. Each unit will have an in-unit washer and dryer, and a back porch-style balcony. Residents will also be able to take advantage of the nonprofit’s services. 

“It’s going to be like a community within a community,” Whittley said.

He said that they are planning to hire a Black-owned management company to interview potential tenants starting early next year and that they are planning to hire a minority-owned construction contractor. 

Whittley added that the nonprofit wants to hire West Side subcontractors to handle things like plumbing and landscaping. Although he didn’t commit to hard numbers, he said they intend to exceed city benchmarks. 

The project’s groundbreaking will be held Saturday, Oct. 9, 1 p.m., at 4531-59 W. Washington Blvd. 

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...