SPARCC Learning Convening

Juan Carlos Linares presented on a panel at the SPARCC learning convening focused on “Investment without Displacement: Solutions for Equitable, Healthy & Vibrant Communities” in Los Angeles this month. It was the only rainy week all year, but spirits were high as community organizations, industry experts, and leaders in government came together to develop relationships, learn from one another, and make new connections across each of the six cities. Check out content from the convening here!

TOD Policy Expansion

As a steering committee member of Elevated Chicago, part of the national SPARCC initiative, we are proud to announce the expansion of the City of Chicago’s existing Transit Oriented Development (TOD) policy to more than 20 high-ridership bus routes along eight major corridors across the city, including Ashland Ave, Western Ave, and Chicago Ave. Thanks to the advocacy of community groups such as LUCHA via the Elevated Chicago platform, Chicago will be the first city to expand TOD to bus corridors. This is a major leap ahead for creating and preserving affordable housing, especially in areas of opportunity with access to jobs, schools, parks, and transit.

Celebrating Thanksgiving Together

Each Thanksgiving, LUCHA’s Resident Services Program hosts a holiday dinner program at Humboldt Park Residence (HPR). With staff, local partners, and 30 LUCHA tenants in attendance, this year’s celebration was filled with joy, warmth and the delicious aroma of tenants’ and staff homemade cooking, including traditional Puerto Rican fare like pasteles and pollo guisado.

In true LUCHA tradition, those in attendance shared what they were grateful for. Emilia*, a tenant who had previously experienced homelessness, expressed her gratitude for HPR and the family environment that she and other tenants have cultivated through the work of the Resident Services Program. The most popular response?: the impressive and expansive spread of food!

*Names and identifying details have been altered to respect privacy.

2018 Greenbuild International Conference & Expo

LUCHA’s Director of Affordable Housing, Charlene Andreas, presented on best practices and led tours of our Tierra Linda Passive House, the first affordable, multi-family, certified Passive House in Illinois, at the the 2018 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo. Greenbuild convenes professionals in architecture, construction, engineering, planning, and interior design who depend on thoughtful and ethical solutions to promote wellness and resiliency in construction and urban development.

“For me, it was a great forum to see what others are doing around sustainable design and healthy housing from a broad spectrum of those involved in the built environment. I have a list of new ideas and strategies I want to dig into and learn more about and see how they could benefit LUCHA and our residents and staff. I also connected with some new people doing exciting things in sustainable design and look forward to potential opportunities to work with them, even including fellow presenters on Passive House and looking to share our outcomes so we have collective learning on how Passive House benefits affordable housing.” – Charlene Andreas

LUCHA is Re-approved for HUD certification

Consistent with our commitment to provide high quality services and the best client experience, we are happy to report that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has recommended an unconditional three year re-approval for LUCHA as a HUD-certified housing counseling agency! LUCHA first received HUD certification on April 4, 1999 and has maintained good standing in the 19 years since as an innovative housing counseling agency.

Click here to learn more about programs and services available at our Housing Opportunities Center. 

LUCHA Welcomes New Staff Attorney

Please join us in extending a warm welcome to LUCHA’s new Staff Attorney, Raisa Alicea! Raisa was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She obtained her Juris Doctor from DePaul University in May 2011, is admitted to practice law in Illinois and the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, and is a member of both the Chicago Bar Association and the American Bar Association. With nearly a decade of legal experience, Raisa leads the LUCHA Law Project to advance the cause of safe, decent, healthy, fair, open, and affordable housing in the city of Chicago.

LUCHA Welcomes Michelle Almanza, MSW

LUCHA is please to welcome Michelle Almanza as our Department of Programs MSW Practicum Student. In her role, Michelle will provide program support to our Resident and Community Services team and assist in the design and development of programs, projects, and activities. She will also be responsible for the implementation of programs and projects, represent LUCHA in presentations to community stakeholders and community groups, and engage in supervised case management activities with our HPR tenants.

Michelle was born and raised in Southern California. Her family immigrated to the US from Mexico and settled in the quaint city of San Juan Capistrano, California. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Spanish at Loyola Marymount Univeristy in Los Angeles, and upon graduating moved to Cordoba, Argentina where she worked as a Community Coordinator, and later Interim Director, for the study abroad program, Casa de la Mateada. She’s currently working on a Master of Social Work degree at the University of Chicago and would like to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Michelle is excited to work with LUCHA staff and clients, learn about housing counseling and education, and help foster community with the tenants in the Humboldt Park Residence Building.

The University of Chicago School of Social Services Administration (SSA) Master of Arts program prepares graduate students to be leaders in the fields of clinical social work and social administration practice. The SSA master’s program has been continuously accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and its predecessor organizations since 1919. The rigor and quality of an SSA education has relationships with over 600 agencies and programs throughout the Chicago area. Students work in the field for an estimated 225,000 hours each year. Students are guided by practitioners who teach them the best practices while providing services to these communities.

We are selected for: HAP

Via a competitive process, LUCHA was selected by Enterprise Community Partners as one of five CDCs across the nation to participate in a pilot program for the creation of a Health Action Plan (HAP) to accompany our Tierra Linda building development. The HAP is informed by quantitative data from public health databases as well as qualitative data from community focus groups. This process identified three priorities which have become the focus of our Health Action Plan: 1) Healthy Eating and Active Living, 2) Stress, Depression and Mental Health, and 3) Respiratory Health including Asthma. The HAP lays out strategies for healthy building design and health programming for Tierra Linda residents and residents of other LUCHA buildings, as well those in the surrounding community.

As a result of the pilot, Enterprise Community Partners has included a Health Action Plan framework as part of the Enterprise’s Green Communities Criteria – the first national standard for building environmentally conscious affordable housing. We are excited to see this innovative tool scaling up across the nation and proud to be on the cutting edge of the intersection between health and housing.