LUCHA’s Tierra Linda Housing Project Wins Social Justice Award

LUCHA received the 2018 Opportunity Finance Network’s (OFN) Social Justice Award during its annual conference held at the Marriott Marquis, October 8-11, 2018, in Chicago. Each year, OFN awards the OFN Conference Justice Grant to a nonprofit organization whose mission is consistent with OFN’s core purpose of aligning capital with social, economic, and political justice. Members of OFN’s host city are eligible to nominate customers and the winner is chosen by the co-host members.

CCLF was proud to nominate LUCHA for its Tierra Linda housing project, which celebrated a ribbon-cutting on September 27, 2018. Tierra Linda is a series of 45 affordable housing units along the 606 Trail in Chicago where property values and rents have escalated, often forcing out long-time, local residents. The 606 Trail is a walking/biking park created along the abandoned Bloomington rail line that became a welcome amenity for residents. A DePaul University study cited housing prices had risen 130% along the trail, and they were forecasting prices would continue to rise. The report also showed a loss of 19,200 mostly Spanish-speaking households in the area. 

(from left) Juan Carlos Linares, Executive Director of LUCHA, Lisa Mensah, President and CEO of OFN, and Juan Calixto, CCLF’s Vice President of External Relations, celebrate LUCHA’s Social Justice Award.

Armed with this data, LUCHA secured an $867,000 loan from CCLF to acquire vacant lots to stop further displacement of lower-income residents. LUCHA surveyed residents and learned that health equity and environmental resiliency were major concerns in the community as children and seniors suffered from diabetes and asthma, compounded by depression and anxiety created for heads of household where rents escalated from $800 to $1,300 overnight. 

Focused on battling local gentrification, providing affordable housing for displaced families, and creating a sustainable environment, Tierra Linda is situated in the Humboldt Park and Logan Square communities of Chicago and provides one-, two-, and three–bedroom options accessible to households making less than 50% of the area median income. Tierra Linda’s Passive House is the most energy-efficient multi-family building in the Midwest, boasting a year-round temperature of 68 degrees without the use of any heating and cooling. The indoor air filtering unit and building seal meets rigorous Passive House standards, where families will pay less for utilities and have a higher quality air indoors, creating a healthier living environment.

“The loan from CCLF created a set of interconnected outcomes well beyond creating affordable housing,” stated Juan Carlos Linares, LUCHA’s Executive Director, as he accepted the OFN Justice Award on behalf of LUCHA. “It caused us to create a health action plan and look at environmental resiliency as critical elements of our housing design.”

Juan Carlos Linares, Executive Director of LUCHA, accepts the OFN Social Justice Award for its Tierra Linda housing project.

“LUCHA plays a vital role in ensuring affordable housing options exist in Chicago,” said Lisa Mensah, OFN President and CEO. “The organization sees the full picture of what’s needed to fill housing gaps and provides a deep and needed array of services and programs to help people fight for fair housing. OFN is thrilled to uplift this longtime champion of equity with our Justice Award.”