Fred and Pamela Buffett Place – Supportive, Affordable Housing in Lakeview at Site of Former Diplomat Hotel
Public-private partnership transformed condemned Lakeview SRO to model housing facility for people with mental illnesses or at risk of homelessness
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 30, 2014
Chicago — Chicago’s capacity to provide quality, affordable housing to persons with mental illnesses or at risk of homelessness improved today with the official opening of the Fred and Pamela Buffett Place, a 51-unit development in Lakeview that delivers brand new, supportive, affordable options to a population in need of housing, health care, employment assistance, and an array of other supportive services.
Buffett Place, which will begin receiving tenants in February, is the result of an innovative public-private partnership between driven by Thresholds, Illinois’ largest provider of mental health services; Brinshore Development; 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney; and the City of Chicago.
The location is the site of the former Diplomat Hotel, a 95-unit SRO (Single Room Occupancy). The SRO had fallen into a state of serious disrepair due to mismanagement and neglect. After a series of code violations, the City acquired the building in 2009.
Thresholds and Brinshore formed a joint venture and, with the support of Alderman Tunney and the Chicago City Council, purchased the building for $1 on the condition that they develop affordable housing units to serve persons with mental illnesses or other disabilities who were at risk of homelessness.
“Securing safe, decent and affordable housing is a critical issue throughout our city and I could not be more proud to welcome Thresholds and the Fred and Pamela Buffett Place to the 44th Ward,” said Alderman Tom Tunney, 44th Ward. “I would love to have more opportunities like this in Lakeview and will continue to find new opportunities for supportive affordable housing in the neighborhood.”
“With fewer and fewer affordable housing options for the population that we serve, Thresholds is very proud to be leading the movement towards a new affordable housing model,” said Thresholds CEO Mark Ishaug. “Buffett Place is a reality because of a partnership that combines the expertise of service providers, the business acumen of the private sector, and a commitment from government officials to support efforts that preserve housing and services to a vulnerable population.”
The project is supplemented by $10.7 million in tax credits, and total development costs topped $13 million. Thresholds received generous donor support for the services that will be offered in the building and to offset move-in costs for residents, most notably from Pamela Buffett. Thresholds’ trained staff will be on site providing both mental health and wellness programming, and also 24-hour-a-day security. Other amenities include:
• Rooftop and courtyard gardens provide a relaxing, therapeutic environment
• 1,800 square feet of retail space including UrbanMeadows (A social enterprise flower shop run by Thresholds’ members)
• Extensive on-site supportive services offered by Thresholds will serve both residents and other community members
• Sustainable design features include: Chicago Green Homes 3-stars, green roof, solar thermal hot water, energy efficient systems and appliances
“The partnership between Brinshore and Thresholds is born out of a genuine passion for this project and the people whose lives will benefit from high quality housing and the comprehensives services that they will receive at Buffett Place,” said Brinshore Development Principal Richard Sciortino. “It has been a partnership based on trust, mutual respect and a commitment to make Buffett Place a reality. We are proud to be a part of the team and will continue this strong partnership well in to the future.”
When the application process for potential move-ins began last fall, Thresholds received more than 200 applications through Chicago Housing Authority referrals and by advertising both externally and internally.
In order to be considered eligible, applicants must demonstrate that they have a disability and an income that is less than 60% AMI (average median income). Applicants were then interviewed by Thresholds’ clinical staff to ensure that applicants understand the supportive housing model and are ready for independent community living. Thresholds will serve as property manager, providing comprehensive services to tenants that include housing, supported employment, case management, linkage to primary healthcare, and most importantly, hope.
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Established in 1959, Thresholds provides healthcare, housing, and hope for thousands of persons with mental illnesses in Illinois. Through research, employment, advocacy, care, and housing, Thresholds assists and inspires people with mental illness to reclaim their lives. For more information about Thresholds, please visit our website at www.thresholds.org
Established in 1994, Brinshore Development, LLC is an innovative real estate company specializing in the development of residential communities that foster conservation, collaboration and affordability. Brinshore has undertaken dozens of developments, from large-scale master planned communities to the restoration of meticulously preserved historic properties. The Brinshore portfolio today encompasses more than 4,000 residential units valued at more than $1 billion.