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Mayor Copeland, left, and Cullen Davis of Upholding Partners

Harbor Square brings more affordable housing to East Chicago

Contributed By:The 411 News

Mayor Copeland: Housing is the glue that will keep the city strong

A ceremonial groundbreaking for Harbor Square, a 28-unit affordable housing complex was Tuesday. Ceremonial because work has already started on the site at Broadway and Pulaski. In a couple of weeks, ground will be broken on a $40 million senior citizens housing complex, also in East Chicago's north Harbor section.

The north Harbor section of East Chicago has already seen significant sewer, lighting and street improvements. Both housing projects will complement other new housing developed over the last 5 years in the area.

Harbor Square will have 1 and 2-bedroom apartments with income-based rents. The ground floor will house a federal qualified health center operated by HealthLinc. A rooftop solar panel array will offset the building's energy costs.

In his remarks, Mayor Anthony Copeland said the next target for redevelopment is the city's Calumet neighborhood. "People have told me 'you are always doing something in the Harbor.' They ask when are you going to do something for the rest of the city."

Redevelopment in the Harbor was laid down before him, during earlier administrations, Mayor Copeland explained. He said demolitions in Calumet are 90% complete and that is where the city will soon build more single and multi-family dwellings.

Copeland wants to see a housing metamorphosis in his city. "Home ownership is the glue. It's what will keep this city strong. I want to see the market change to 70% home ownership and 30% rentals."

In the last 4 years, Mayor Copeland said, the city has welcomed 290 new homeowners with the help of a home down payment assistance program.

For the purchase of a newly constructed home, the City of East Chicago provides a zero interest second mortgage of up to $25,000 and $30,000 for city employees to assist with the down payment. These are forgivable loans if the homebuyer remains in the home during the 10-year loan period.

For those interested in purchasing a pre-existing or reconstructed home, the program provides a zero interest second mortgage of up to $10,000 and $15,000 for city employees. The loan is forgivable if the buyer remains in the home during the 5-year loan period.

And we've been 'Illinoised' the mayor said about families coming from Illinois to live in his city.

Since 2000, Chicago has experienced an out-migration of black and Latino families. Likely pushing them out is choice of housing. East Chicago, like other cities along the state line and in northwest Indiana, have benefitted from that movement.

Chicago's low numbers of home mortgage loans made in black and Latino neighborhoods was detailed in the WBEZ Chicago Radio report "Where banks lend in Chicago and where they don't" earlier this month.

The report found that between 2012 and 2018, one white neighborhood (Lincoln Park) was given more mortgage loans than all of the mortgage loans given in black and Latino areas combined. The report also singled out individual white areas that received more home loans than all of the black areas combined, during that time period.

WBEZ reported that "... for every 12 cents invested in Chicago's minority neighborhoods, banks and mortgage companies invested $1 in white neighborhoods."

Chicago's population is divided nearly equally between whites, blacks, and Latinos.

Mayor Copeland said he is counting on Harbor Square tenants to become future homeowners in East Chicago.

Harbor Square's developer Upholding Partners said the housing complex is designed for tenant empowerment. Tenants will see savings with subsidized rents. Solar panels on the roof will make Harbor Square a "net zero energy building." Meaning, it will produce as much energy as it uses over the course of a year, resulting in little or no utility costs to tenants.

Story Posted:06/18/2020

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