Looking Back and Moving Forward: Part I

Last week I had the pleasure of having lunch with an old co-worker in Uptown. He and I used to work for Lakefront Supportive Housing, which was acquired by Mercy Housing in 2006. Now known as Mercy Housing Lakefront, this organization provides much-needed affordable and supportive housing throughout the Chicago metro area.

I started working for LSH after a short visit to Los Angeles studying the failure of SRO housing. Once intended to provide safe, affordable rooms to a transient population and seasonal workers, SROs are now synonymous with crime, destitution and filth.

In the early 1980’s a group of Uptown residents recognized that the Harold Washington Apartments, located at Sheridan and Argyle, was one of many crumbling SRO buildings that could—and should—be turned around to provide housing for people at risk of becoming homeless. Soon Lakefront SRO was born and the non-profit’s administrative offices were on the HWA’s first floor.

Lakefront SRO became Lakefront Supportive Housing in the early 2000’s. Their new name and tagline “More Than a Roof” reflected the organizations mission to end homelessness through permanent, supportive housing. Every building provided an apartment for tenants who were formerly homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. And tenants had access to supportive services such as counseling, job training, case management and other vital assistance to end the cycle of homelessness.

LSH owned and managed 12 properties when it was acquired by Mercy Housing Lakefront in 2006. While I was there we built two LEED-certified buildings, Wentworth Commons and the Margot and Harold Schiff Residences. Always a greenie at heart, I fell in love with green building while I was part of these two capital campaigns.

Wentworth Commons

Schiff Residences

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