2011 Mercy Housing Annual Report
A world of opportunity
Mercy Housing Lakefront
Before moving into Mercy Housing Lakefront’s Lavergne Courts, Bonjovi, Sivi and their son were living on the South Side of Chicago. Their neighborhood had a reputation for being crime-infested and a target for gang activity. The safety of their son, Blaze, was a constant concern for Sivi and Bonjovi.
“He always wanted to go outside and play since he’s the only child,” said Sivi. “But it was just a bad neighborhood with a lot of gangs and a lot of shooting.”
Living on the South Side left the family feeling isolated, so they decided to move to the West Side Austin neighborhood where many of their friends and family members were living. Bonjovi’s mother, who lives at Mercy Housing Lakefront’s Whitmore apartments, recommended Mercy Housing to the family. After a few years of waiting, due to high demand for affordable housing, the family learned that there was an opening at Lavergne Courts.
“The first day I walked in I said I’m not going back there,” said Sivi. “We are going to move here today, no matter what it takes.”
Lavergne Courts, originally built in the 1920s, was acquired by Mercy Housing in 2003 and underwent an extensive rehab to upgrade many of the building’s features. The property consists of two buildings totaling 158 affordable rental apartments for low-income families.
The family has taken full advantage of all of the programs and services the property offers. Blaze participates in the after school program and likes to play basketball with his friends and cousins. Bonjovi has become certified as a Computer tech associate through a program sponsored by one economy. Sivi takes advantage of the job training programs and the on-site computer lab.
“Mercy Housing offers a lot of opportunities and they actually try to help you. there are a lot of things around here that we just didn’t have when we were living on the South Side,” said Sivi. “It gives you a lot of opportunities – after school programs, computer lessons, employment – there are so many things for people. use the help that is given to you and don’t be afraid to take the help.”
For the family, they understand the value of affordable housing and see this opportunity as a hand up, not a hand out. The family views this merely as a stepping stone for greater things to come. For Blaze, who wants to be a dancer when he grows up, Bonjovi and Sivi want him to continue to be respectable and to make sure he understands the value of education.
“I hope to one day leave Mercy Housing,” said Sivi. “I feel like this is just a place to start, not to finish.”