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YMCA plans $12.6M renovation of men’s residences

Plan would provide updates to the agency's 156 units of single-room occupancy housing on the edge of downtown Evanston.

A rendering of the appearance of a renovated large SRO unit at the McGaw YMCA.

McGaw YMCA officials are scheduled to present the group’s $12.6 million plan to renovate the men’s residences at its 1929-vintage building at 1000 Grove St. to the Evanston City Council Monday night.

A presentation prepared for the meeting says the Y “is the largest provider of safe, affordable and accessible housing for men in Evanston” and one of the few remaining single room occupancy options in the Chicago area.

It says the YMCA provides 156 SRO units on the three upper floors of its five-story building at an average rent of $560 per month.

The project would also upgrade basement-level program space for the residences and create a new covered entryway to the basement area on the east side of the building.

The McGaw YMCA building at 1000 Grove St. (Google Maps)

YMCA President Monique Parsons says, “We provide holistic services that meet these men where they are in life. We build relationships with them so that we can actually help address their everyday needs and personal goals.”

The YMCA says that in an average year 232 men spend at least some time at the residence, which offers weekly room rates, and that 14% of the residents were formerly homeless. But nearly half of the residents have lived there at least 10 years and one in eight have spent 30 or more years at the residence. The building has an average occupancy rate of 91%.

The non-profit says it has secured about $1.6 million of the funding for the project so far and hopes to complete fundraising and begin construction sometime next year. It expects to seek city approval of permits for the project early next year. It anticipates having to find temporary housing for current residents of the building while he renovation project is underway.


Update 9/22/21: During Monday night’s Council meeting Parsons said she planned to return to the Council later to seek financial support from the city for the project.

Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) said he looked forward to that, adding “hopefully it will be something we can afford to do.”

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