Home First is a full-service housing development group, tasked with creating new models of housing for people with disabilities.

Community integrated, affordable, accessible housing

Intentionally located, affordable, accessible housing creates stability for communities. However, people with disabilities often face outsized challenges in accessing affordable housing that meets their needs. IFF’s Home First team develops community-based housing for people with disabilities across Illinois. Projects are located in communities with local supports and amenities, and buildings are new construction or fully rehabbed housing, providing stable long term housing options for this population. Launched in 2011, to date over 300 units of  housing, in nine distinct projects across Illinois, have been developed.

Development is made possible through governmental resources including low-income housing tax credits and supportive housing programs. Supplemental funding is provided by private foundations, competitive grants, and additional loans and grants. Projects are supported with rental assistance to ensure the units remain affordable to residents for the long term.

Project sites are selected to create high quality housing on formerly underutilized sites including vacant land, foreclosed properties and village owned parcels. The resulting housing is deliberately low density, allowing residents the freedom to engage in their communities and supports as they choose.

Home First has been recognized locally and nationally, including:

  • Featured in Chicago Architect Magazine and webinar, “New Chicago Housing”
  • Coalition of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA) Program Award
  • Community Neighborhood Development Award’s (CNDA) Polk Bros Foundation Affordable Rental Housing Preservation Award
  • Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award from the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition
  • Alan J. Rothman Award for Housing Accessibility from the American Institute of Architects and the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Nonprofit Developer of the Year Award from the Cook County Land Bank Authority
  • Council of Development Finance Agencies National Conference Panelist: Innovative Financing Strategies
  • Housing Matters! Illinois Housing Council Annual Conference: “Designing for Accessibility”
  • Illinois Governor’s Conference on Affordable Housing: “Designing Housing for Independent Seniors and People with Disabilities”
  • Vision Award from the Urban Land Institute
Client Spotlight · Affordable, Accessible Housing

Access Health and Housing

Located in Maywood, IL, Access Health and Housing will create 20 units of accessible, scattered-site supportive housing spread across six new buildings. Through a partnership with Trinity Health, the project will establish a new model for Home First developments by deeply integrating community-based health services with affordable, accessible housing.

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Dena Bell

Dena Bell

Executive Director, Home First
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