Full Circle Communities and Christian Community Health Center Take on Link Between Health and Housing in South Suburban Chicago December 14, 2021

“When I think about what it takes to get something like this done, two words center in my mind: community and partnerships,” said Joshua Wilmoth, President and CEO of Full Circle Communities. Speaking to a crowd assembled at a recent groundbreaking ceremony in Lansing, IL, Wilmoth was referring to Torrence Place, the 51,000-square-foot permanent supportive housing development that would soon begin to take shape behind him.  

In a Nutshell

What: Groundbreaking for Torrence Place, a 48-unit permanent supportive housing development by Full Circle Communities that will seamlessly integrate health and housing with an on-site community health clinic operated by Christian Community Health Center. Once completed in the fourth quarter of 2022, Torrence Place will anchor the revitalization of a critical commercial corridor in Lansing, IL.   
Sector: Affordable housing, Health care 
Location: Lansing, IL 
Size: 51,000 square feet, including a 3,000-square-foot community health clinic 
Cost: $16.3 million 
Funding Sources: Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credits from the Illinois Housing Development Authority, Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, Cook County, Housing Authority of Cook County, National Equity Fund, Bank of America, ComEd, IFF 
IFF Support: $1.7 million loan closed in September 2021 
IFF Staff Leads: Channa Ring, Senior Portfolio Manager and Stephanie Socall, Managing Director of Lending, Affordable Housing 
Design: Cordogan, Clark & Associates 
Construction: Skender and joint venture partner Ashlaur ConstructionCAGE Civil Engineering 
Impact: 48 permanent supportive housing units created 

The result of a unique partnership between Full Circle Communities (Full Circle) and Christian Community Health Center (CCHC), Torrence Place will offer 48 affordable and accessible one- and two-bedroom apartments for Veterans and people with disabilities, as well as a ground floor community health clinic operated by CCHC designed to support residents while meeting the health care needs of the broader community. The clinic will provide a full array of health services, with a pharmacy also planned for the location. 

By bringing together health and housing under one roof, the project is a tangible manifestation of the inextricable link between the two and will demonstrate the benefits that are accrued when communities have easy access to quality, affordable homes and robust health services. 

“Combining health and housing at Torrence Place is going to provide stability to residents, but it’s also going to be an incredible resource for the community,” says Lindsey Haines, Full Circle Communities’ Senior Vice President for Real Estate Development. “We very intentionally engaged community stakeholders about health issues affecting Lansing and the surrounding area, and that informed the design of the building and decisions about the supportive services that are going to be offered at Torrence Place.” 

Community engagement was conducted through Full Circle’s participation in a Health Action Planning Cohort led by Enterprise Community Partners and the Illinois Public Health Institute, which pairs affordable housing developers with public health professionals to prioritize specific health needs identified by talking to community members and analyzing data. Beyond the services offered at Torrence Place, these conversations resulted in the addition of a fitness room to the facility, as well as a multi-purpose room that can flex to meet the needs of residents and community members. Additional building amenities available to Torrence Place residents will include a library and business center, a community lounge, a large patio, a secure package room, and an on-site laundry room.

Working on Torrence Place during the pandemic reminded all of us on the project team how small changes in health outcomes truly do affect everything in your life.

In keeping with the focus on the connection between housing and health at Torrence Place, the facility will achieve the WELL Building Standard – a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact health and wellbeing.     

“We’re usually focused on green building and how our developments impact the environment,” explains Haines. “That’s true of our work at Torrence Place, but we’re also thinking about how the building responds to the tenants that live in it and methods to provide health benefits to residents through the design of the facility. One example of that is the HVAC system, which is going to be upgraded to bring more fresh air into the building. Working on Torrence Place during the pandemic reminded all of us on the project team how small changes in health outcomes truly do affect everything in your life.”   

With Torrence Place expected to anchor the block when the building opens late next year, the Village of Lansing is moving forward with a redevelopment of the Torrence Avenue corridor that village administrators anticipate will attract investments from a variety of for-profit enterprises – including several restaurants. This will generate revenue for Lansing and provide Torrence Place residents with additional amenities in the neighborhood.  

The fact that the project came together in the first place is a testament to the flexible, mission-driven lending IFF has focused on for more than 30 years and the direct result of collaboration between the Village of Lansing, Full Circle, CCHC, IFF, and several other partners to bring to fruition a vision for the property that maximizes community benefits. Owned by CCHC but unused in recent years after the organization relocated administrative offices previously housed there to another facility, the site was ripe for redevelopment but required a lender willing to work with the organization to structure a transaction that benefited all partners.  

There’s a huge focus on combining health and housing right now, but there really aren’t many government funding programs specifically designed to make that happen. We’re thankful that we were able to sit down with a few key partners and find a way to pull this project off.

Having worked with CCHC extensively in the past and already familiar with the property because of a previous loan, IFF assessed the potential impact of the Torrence Place development and worked with CCHC to arrange a deal structure that enabled the organization to sell a portion of the property to the Village of Lansing for future commercial development and to lease the remaining section of the property to Full Circle for the Torrence Place project. Doing so generated revenue for CCHC, provided Full Circle with control of the site, ensured the Village of Lansing could shape commercial development in a high-priority area, and, most importantly, ensured that Veterans and people with disabilities in the area would have a quality, affordable option for housing that also helps meet their health needs.  

In addition to the up-front coordination necessary for the project to proceed, IFF is providing a $1.7 million loan for the $16.3 million project. It’s the sixth time IFF has supported a Full Circle housing development, with the relationship stretching back to an initial loan closed in 2016 to construct housing for seniors in Richmond, IL. 

Additional sources of funding and financing for Torrence Place include Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, Illinois Affordable Housing Tax Credits, an IFF-sponsored grant through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago’s Affordable Housing Program, the Housing Authority of Cook County, Bank of America, and ComEd. The National Equity Fund is serving as the tax credit investor for the project. 

“There’s a huge focus on combining health and housing right now, but there really aren’t many government funding programs specifically designed to make that happen,” Haines says. “We’re thankful that we were able to sit down with a few key partners and find a way to pull this project off.”  

Learn more about IFF’s past work with Full Circle Communities and Christian Community Health Center.