Modular Homes Are Coming To Roseland To Help More People Become Homeowners

The model home was finished in November. Dozens more are planned as part of an ambitious initiative to build hundreds of homes on vacant land on the South and West sides.

By Maia McDonald for Block Club Chicago
December 11, 2023 -Updated December 13, 2023

ROSELAND — A Far South Side community organization working to spur affordable housing in the area has finished its first modular home in Roseland.

The Hope Center Foundation and its community partners unveiled the model home last week at 11801 S. Indiana Ave. The organization plans to build an initial batch of 10 more homes like it as part of the Reclaiming Communities initiative, which has broader plans to build 1,000 homes on vacant lots on the South and West sides and create safer environments.

The first ten homes should be move-in ready by early next year, said Shenita Muse, the foundation’s executive director. The foundation plans to start building another 20-24 homes in the spring in Roseland, Muse said.

The first homes in the project are being built on vacant lots owned by Roseland’s Salem Baptist Church of Chicago, according to Crain’s. The Rev. James T. Meeks, the founder of the Hope Center Foundation, retired from Salem this year.

Funding for the project in Roseland is being fronted by Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, a nonprofit working to improve city neighborhoods. Kinexx Modular Construction oversees the construction, in which the factory-made homes are fabricated off-site and then assembled on the property. Crews broke ground on the first home in September.

Meeks was not available for an interview but said in a statement the initiative and the modular homes build upon “work I’ve been doing for the last four decades.”

“Reclaiming Communities is a visionary urban development project that represents a significant step forward in our commitment to creating safe and sustainable environments that will enrich and empower the individuals who call this community home,” Meeks said. “The Hope Center Foundation is dedicated to shaping urban environments that reflect our aspirations and the diversity of our communities.”

Shenita Muse, the foundation’s executive director, previously told Crain that the foundation already has buyers lined up for at least four planned three-bedroom, two-bath homes, which will cost $200,000-$210,000.

“Planting the first Roseland HOPE Home marks a significant turning point for the generations to come in this community. While our community experienced major economic disinvestment in the 1970s, Reclaiming Communities is an initiative we’re honored to be sphere-heading at The Hope Center Foundation,” Muse said.

“This affordable housing project is a glimpse into the larger urban development project we’re organizing to restore hope in Roseland — to set up our residents with opportunities to be homeowners in equitable communities.”

Reclaiming Communities is led by Lawndale Christian Development Corporation, Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, and United Power for Action and Justice, a coalition of 31 civic and religious organizations.

Then-Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced in 2021 that the city would boost the project by selling 250 city-owned lots in North Lawndale to the coalition for $1 each. The town also has earmarked $5.3 million from the Ogden/Pulaski Tax Increment Financing district to support site remediation and lot preparation for the first 250 homes.

Other organizations involved include Back of the Yards’ The Resurrection Project and Chicago Lawn’s Southwest Organizing Project, which has worked for years to revive the local housing market following the 2007-’08 foreclosure crisis.

The modular homes can bring redevelopment, financial opportunity, and pathways to homeownership to Roseland, Muse said. The houses can be constructed quickly compared to traditional single-family dwellings, according to Kinexx.

Buyers will be former renters participating in classes from the foundation that teaches financial wellness and how to maintain a home, Crain’s reported.

Kinexx has also built modular homes in the Harrison Row Townhomes project in East Garfield Park.

David Doig, president of Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, told Crain’s the group is trying to raise $25 million in private capital for Reclaiming Communities. About half of that has been submitted.

Crain reported that a fund with contributions from BMO Harris, Chase Bank, and others covers construction for the Roseland homes.

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