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West Garfield Park Celebrates Groundbreaking On New Affordable Housing Project, C.A.R.E. Manor

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Community leaders gathered in West Garfield Park on Saturday at the groundbreaking for a new affordable housing building expected to open next year.

CBS 2's Jackie Kostek reports the pandemic appears to have only increased the demand for affordable housing.

A church leader said, by sometime next year, a vacant lot in West Garfield Park will be home to a brand new affordable housing project called C.A.R.E. Manor. And when you talk about demand for affordable housing in Chicago right now, construction hasn't even begun on the 43-unit building, and there is already a growing waitlist.

"We've been working, and just praying, and planning, and organizing for this moment," said David Todd Whittley, pastor of Corinthian Temple Church of God in Christ, and president of its social service agency United for Better Living.

For Whittley, Saturday's groundbreaking was a moment four years in the making.

He said, with funding from the city and the National Equity Fund, the organization will soon begin construction on a $19 million affordable housing project; 43 units, mostly two and three bedrooms.

"We have a long waiting list already, because we've been talking about it," he said.

That demand for affordable housing isn't just in West Garfield Park, but across the city. That's according to Bill Eager, who runs the Chicago branch of an affordable housing non-profit.

"There's always a need for more. We are many thousands of units away from meeting the full need, unfortunately," he said.

Eager said the biggest obstacle to meeting the demand is resources. But between Gov. JB Pritzker recently allocating more than $70 million to affordable housing, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot's proposed spending, he says now is a time for hope and optimism.

"I think it's good for neighborhoods. I think it reflects their recognition that building affordable housing is not just good for people who need affordable housing, it's a good thing for neighborhood investment," Eager said.

Future C.A.R.E. Manor resident Emma Moore says the opportunity to live in a brand new space is a prayer answered.

"I always tell the lord when I pray, I ask God to bless me with something new. It was a lot more places I could've went, but the lord didn't neve guided me there to that place, and I want something new," Moore said.

The building is expected to be completed sometime in 2022.

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