Charged Ald. Carrie Austin’s decision to split the tax credits helps bring a senior housing project named in honor of the late Ald to life. JoAnne Thompson

A promoter and mayor Lori Lightfoot praised indicted Ald on Wednesday. Carrie Austin (34)and) for sharing tax credits needed to complete a 102-unit apartment building that will allow seniors to live affordably and independently in Englewood.

The $26.6 million project at 64and and the green streets are named after the late Ald. Jo Ann Thompson (16and), a beloved figure known for her big heart and fighting spirit who died of heart failure in 2015 at the age of 58.

Thompson had won the admiration of his co-workers and South Side residents by overcoming homelessness and alcoholism to win a seat on the city council.

On Wednesday, Lightfoot joined the local aldermen at the “grand opening” which was due to take place a year ago but was put on hold due to the pandemic.

That’s when developer Philip Mappa of MR Properties released the untold story of how Austin’s selflessness helped save the project.

“Without his help, this would not exist. At the time – it was about seven years after it was approved – the city, in its infinite wisdom, decided that it no longer wanted to build this facility,” Mappa said.

“Ald. Carrie Austin helped us by postponing another one of her developments so the city could apply the tax credits to build this facility.

Lightfoot said she had never heard this story but was “not surprised”.

Austin’s decision to retire from politics rather than fight the new neighborhood map has made it easier for the Black Caucus to deal with the loss of more than 85,000 African American residents over the past decade.

“It’s no surprise because of how selfless she has been in her commitment to the community,” Lightfoot told the crowd.

“Whether this community is her immediate community of Roseland and Pullman or anywhere else in the city, she has been a champion because she understands the importance of seeing the vision of what our city can be. So, thank you, Austin Councilman.

Austin said she splits her tax credits because “the needs of many outweigh the needs of one.”

“JoAnn … was saying it wasn’t going to be because of the attitudes in the city at the time, I said, ‘No, it’s not going to happen. This project is going to get done,'” Austin recalled.

“I said, ‘Just take mine and that way it can be done. I am grateful that God allowed me to have these [tax] credits in order to give it to JoAnn to make it a reality.

Austin went on to share how she developed such a close friendship with Thompson.

“I was going to the bathroom one morning of the city council and as I walked past her she said, ‘The Lord said you will be my mentor.’ And I had to stop and say, ‘What? Are you sure you’re talking to the Lord because I can’t be your mentor,’ Austin said.

“But I’m grateful that the Lord has allowed me to be just that…As Alderman Harris said, anyone on this council who needs help and who needs a nudge, call Carrie.”

Austin is not done showering praise. She did the same for Lightfoot.

“Madam Mayor, I don’t care what nobody says. I will love you until the day I die. Anyway,” Austin told the mayor.

“I know there are times when people think we disagree with each other. I don’t know how to disagree with her. She’s short, but she carries a big stick and doesn’t hesitate. not to use it. But I felt the love of a woman who needed someone to be behind her to let them know you weren’t going to crush this one. And I’m grateful that you m allowed to be by your side.

Three years ago, Lightfoot fired Austin as chair of the budget committee in retaliation for her support for County Council Chairman Toni Preckwinkle on Lightfoot to present Austin with a consolation prize: chair of the newly created committee on oversight contracts and equity.

At the time, Lightfoot needed Austin’s support to carry out a city council reorganization that was the first test of the new mayor’s political strength.

Last summer, Lightfoot pressured Austin to resign as chair after the alderman pleaded not guilty to accepting bribes for home improvements – including new kitchen cabinets and granite countertops – from a developer seeking his help navigating a project through the bureaucracy of city hall.

This wasn’t the first time Lightfoot and Austin had had a public romp.

The same thing happened last year when the largest fire station in Chicago history and the first new multi-appliance facility in decades opened on the Far South Side.

The $30 million, 27,000 square foot fire station at 1024 W. 119th St. was a personal and deeply moving triumph for Austin, who had campaigned for a new fire station for 16 years and feared the election of Lightfoot leads this crusade to a dead end. .

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