Dove Street independent Housing is designed in a manner that provides an opportunity for formerly homeless people living with AIDS and other disabilities to conduct independent lives and to share in community events to the extent they wish. This small project of eight units is appropriate to the scale of the neighborhood yet provides a critical density that allows provision of on-site services and development of community within the building. Great care was taken in designing a structure that responds to the architectural character of the historic Center Square/Hudson Park neighborhood. The architect worked closely with community residents and advocates for the tenant population. Todd Strehlow and Tim Palmer - committed members of the development team - advanced personal funds, without any guarantee of repayment, to obtain control of this ideal project site. Too often affordable housing is relegated to marginal locations with construction problems due to lack of predevelopment funds.
This site is in a diverse urban working class rowhouse community. The next parallel street to the west includes a major grocery store, public transportation, community services, and the City's most interesting neighborhood commercial strip. Hospitals, employment centers, and recreation facilities are in close proximity. The site offers a very attractive view down Irving Street to the east and along Dove Street to Lincoln Park toward the South. The neighbors had long-term involvement with the community development corporation, Capitol Hill Improvement Corporation, who sponsored this project. Community members were actively involved in planning the building and continue to support the project. As a result of this involvement and the success of past projects, the proposed homeless housing received unanimous endorsement from the neighborhood association at the same time that many similar projects were being rejected by local communities. This support is critical to the development process and the quality of life for residents.
Design was complicated and enriched by the many stakeholders in the project. The property is located in a historic district where the character of new construction is carefully regulated by both local standards administered by a review committee and by independent review from the State Preservation office utilizing the Secretary of the Interior's Standards. In addition, an active design advisory committee appointed by the neighborhood association participated in detailed reviews of the project. One advantage of this complicated process was that it was not possible to cut any of the exterior design features on the building façade after project approval as this would have necessitated a new review. Funder and sponsor understanding of lifecycle costs was critical to achieving the high quality of construction, as was the contractor's commitment to execution of each detail.
The project has been well received by the community and the residents. Neighbor Charles Sullivan says that the Dove Street project is a "real community asset." Capitol Hill Improvement Corporation executive director Mark Besse comments that, "It is amazing the difference that stable housing has made in the lives of the residents. We've seen real empowerment. Each resident is taking progressive steps to achieve their personal goals for family, employment and health. The community in the building is very important." Fermine Caraballo, a project resident, testifies, "I love my apartment. It's beautiful - my unit is both long and wide enough - you can fit furniture and have company. It's a wonderful apartment. You don't hear noise from other apartments. It's built solid. I love my apartment .... my family tells me never let it go."