New Moms breaks ground on affordable housing project

Facility will provide permanent housing for 18 families

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

It's a day Laura Zumdahl, president and CEO of the Austin-based New Moms, Inc., thought she would never see, but the nonprofit that provides housing for low-income moms broke ground this month in Oak Park on its new 18-unit housing facility.

The building at 206 Chicago Ave. will offer permanent housing for families and provide ground-level office space for the organization.

Organizers gathered for the groundbreaking on April 11 to celebrate the start of construction. The four-story structure replaces the single-story building – the former home of the daycare center King's Kidz Academy – that was demolished to make room for the project. 

"This new development is really going to allow us to expand and grow," Zumdahl said in an interview following the groundbreaking.

New Moms currently has a 40-unit building at 5317 W. Chicago Ave. in the Chicago neighborhood of Austin. Those units, however, are only available to moms transitioning from homelessness and have a two-year limit. The new facility is permanent housing, Zumdahl said.

New Moms now operates its office out of a 2nd-floor space at Euclid Avenue Methodist Church, 405 S. Euclid Ave., in Oak Park. Zumdahl explained that the new office space will help the organization expand its mission because the ground-level storefront will be more inviting to its clients.

New Moms offers workshops and drop-in programs for moms, and Zumdahl says the new storefront space, which is expected to be completed in early 2019, will create better awareness of the services her group provides.

"We need more space, and we really wanted to have a space that is accessible," she said.

The structure will be built on the 0.34-acre site by McShane Construction Co., which describes the building as a "wood-frame construction with a façade of masonry veneer" and "glazed brick and fiber cement siding."

It also will include "a playroom for children that incorporates different-sized circular windows to create an open and playful feel," notes a McShane press release.

"There will be a laundry area in the building as well as resident meeting space," according to the construction company. "Residents will have a private entrance separate from the office entrance."

The development includes one- and two-bedroom units, some of which will come furnished, according to Zumdahl. 

New Moms is getting $5.9 million from the Illinois Housing Development Authority for the project and $825,000 from the community development financial institution IFF. The group also is continuing its fundraising efforts, Zumdahl said, and is about 75 percent of the way toward completing its goal of raising $1.2 million for the project.

Zumdahl said New Moms is working with the Oak Park Housing Authority to help identify families for the units. 

"(I)t's hard to do anything else in your life if you don't know where you're going to spend the next night," she said, adding that the program helps families achieve stability and self-sufficiency.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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