In 2021 Mercy Housing Lakefront completed a successful rehabilitation of the Major Jenkins Apartments, a 100-year-old building that we first acquired and rehabbed in 1995. The Major Jenkins Apartments is a supportive housing community, which provides stable homes to individuals with extremely low incomes, many of whom have experienced chronic homelessness and/or disability.
Upon completion of the Major Jenkins rehabilitation, residents were welcomed back to updated homes with new amenities. These upgrades increase residents’ quality of life and opportunities for long-term stability and self sufficiency. Among the improvements are high-speed Wi-Fi internet access helping to close the digital divide, and air conditioning throughout the building, including in residents’ homes, to help keep everyone cool during the hot Chicago summers.
Building-wide Wi-Fi and A/C are brand new, first time features. Internet access has become particularly important as a basic, everyday need for residents in recent years. Mercy Housing Lakefront is committed to including internet access as an integral component of future development projects. Similarly, the inclusion of air conditioning will vastly improve living conditions for residents, especially those who live with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.
The development also features a redesigned first floor with The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Community Room and The John and Kathleen Schreiber Activity Room. These separate spaces were requested by residents during an inclusive design process. Mercy Housing Lakefront also partnered with Architreasures, a Chicago nonprofit that helps to transform communities and public spaces, to create and install mixed-media artwork in the community spaces. These works, as well as new paint and improved lighting, will help to enhance the interior and to promote an inviting atmosphere.
Applegate & Thorne-Thomsen
Citi Community Capital
City of Chicago
Clocktower Tax Credits
Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Illinois Housing Development Authority
Landon Bone Baker Architects
MacRostie Historic Advisors Midwest
John and Kathleen Schreiber Foundation
Urban Relocation Services
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation
Melvin, 40, has learned a lot in the six years he’s lived at the Major Jenkins Apartments. According to Melvin, “moving to Major Jenkins gave me the opportunity to open my horizon up to different races, backgrounds, genders, and it helped me build a foundation.” Though relocated temporarily during the rehabilitation, he was grateful that he could return to the building on a weekly basis to maintain those connections and participate in services.
“The door was always open for us even during the relocation for nine months. Anything we needed we could still come to Major Jenkins to get it done. They made it very comfortable for us as if we were still living in the building,” shared Melvin.
Now he’s preparing to move permanently: “My voucher came through, so now I can pick anywhere I want to live on my own. I have been here long enough; now it’s time for me to live on my own. I’m going to stay north so that I can still visit.
I know they [the Major Jenkins staff] are going to miss me just as much as I’m going to miss them. I’m not moving too far from them. I love this team of people at Major Jenkins.” Successfully moving on is an accomplishment for Melvin and will also allow someone new to access supportive housing.