Built at the turn of the 20th century as a factory, the Wilson Men’s Hotel, at 1124 W. Wilson Ave., was converted to a place of lodging around 1920, and has served the residential needs of Uptown residents since. However, the building has reached the end of its useful life. It has an aging plumbing system, nonfunctioning heating and cooling, and numerous other issues which are more costly to repair than to replace.

City Pads, one of Chicago’s top developers, acquired the building in late 2017 with the goal of creating a mix of affordable and market rate apartments that fit the community’s needs.

City Pads is assisting the current tenants of the Wilson Men’s Hotel in finding new housing so that the building can undergo a much-needed rehabilitation. They have assembled a top-flight team of multi-disciplinary, multi-lingual case workers to work closely with residents in finding new housing, which usually goes hand-in-glove with better living. This transition team works on-site and has an office in the building that is open every weekday.

This team has gotten to know all of the residents. They spend dozens of hours helping each resident figure out his housing needs, and obtain the services he needs and qualifies for. They often help residents obtain clothing and medical care, and in some cases when residents lack any form of identification, they help them navigate the administrative processes to get a social security card, a birth certificate and a state ID. Often this results in the resident qualifying for additional benefits such as social security or subsidized housing, and sometimes it results in the resident finding permanent employment.

Residents who are in compliance with their rent agreement also qualify for a lottery to be welcomed back to the property once it re-opens. The building will have a large number of affordable housing units, far surpassing the Chicago norms for new developments. In the meantime, City Pads has spent over $50,000 in short-term repairs simply to provide better living conditions for the tenants as they weigh their options.

Since taking responsibility for the property, over half of the tenants are success stories who have found new, stable housing. Those residents also received free assistance in moving their belongings, as well as cash assistance.

Once restored, the Wilson Men’s Hotel will once again be a thriving and exciting place for one of Chicago’s historic neighborhoods as the community at large continues to experience a 21st century renaissance, and as the residents find new homes.