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Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Application Process: Part II

Last Thursday, I dropped off what may be my last application for an affordable (subsidized) senior housing apartment. The building is owned by CHA and it took me awhile to make my decision about which of their buildings I wanted to apply for, especially since you only get one choice if you opt to choose a specific senior building.

The application itself is pretty short—barely four pages—and includes the basics: race, citizenship, income, and contact information.

The longest housing application I filled out was more than twice as long—10 pages for a studio apartment in one of the North Park Village buildings, in a non-CHA building run by the Elderly Housing Development & Operations Corporation.

In addition to the basics, that application required my "Housing History" for the past 10 years, including name and contact information of landlords, and a list of doctors visited regularly. Plus, since the building I applied for allows pets--one, I think--there was a long list of common household pets for a pet-owning applicant to check. 

Four of the other applications I filled out were for buildings owned by various other corporations and entities, not-for-profits in some cases. All are on the far north side, which again is where I’ve lived most of my adult life in Chicago. And most of those were “pre-applications,” all one pagers that included not only the basics, but sometimes a driver's license number or present employer or apartment size preference.

I’m not certain, but I think the brevity of these pre-apps might have something to do with the long waitlists for these buildings. Maybe once someone inches up the list--typically over the course of six months (if they're lucky), one year, or perhaps longer--a more detailed application will need to be completed.

If memory serves, the very first place I looked at back in early February—the Johnston R. Bowman Residential Apartments—didn’t require an application until I visited the building and saw the apartments. I wasn’t all that crazy about the location of the building, it’s part of the Rush University Medical Center on S. Paulina, but what sealed the deal against my considering it was that the windows in the apartments didn’t have screens, didn’t even open. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that.

And for a couple of places I looked at—Friendly Towers, the Belle Shore Apartment Hotel, the Farwell-Jarvis Apartments—I didn't submit applications for several reasons, including how onerous the process was and/or the size and amenities of the apartments.

Also, it's important to note that for most of the affordable senior buildings I applied for, I never got past the front desk or the property manager's office where I was handed the application. It's not until an apartment becomes available that an applicant actually gets to see it. It took me some time to digest that this is exactly the opposite of what it's typically like to rent an apartment. And it may have something to do with the fact that these are subsidized units.

If any of my blog readers are interested in more information about my search—again, whether for themselves or for friends and family members—please email me at I’ve done a lot of research and footwork during this process and am happy to share what I know with others who’d benefit from it.

But as for my own search, I feel I may be done. Over the past six weeks, I've submitted applications to those buildings I'd consider living in, especially the two that allow pets. And in the meantime--and this is especially the best news so far--a friend has invited me to move in with her, in the Rogers Park home she grew up in, until one of my applications is accepted. In deepest gratitude, I told her that if that takes longer than she can stand having me around, I'll make other arrangements.

Until then, I feel blessed beyond all measure.

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