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Housing and Dreams Delayed

Vertical farm collocated with affordable housing offers residents fresh produce and jobs

Vertical farm collocated with affordable housing offers residents fresh produce and jobs

MultiplefamilyEcon OppEducation

Vertical Harvest

Chicago, Illinois

Can vertical farms located near affordable housing properties in underserved communities improve food security and nutrition and create job opportunities for residents?

The project with Vertical Harvest researched the prevalence of food deserts in underserved, low-income communities and developed a feasibility study for the construction of vertical greenhouses near affordable housing properties. An existing vertical greenhouse in Jackson, WY, served as a proof-of-concept, and the learnings from that site informed expansion plans to two existing affordable housing properties in low-income communities in Chicago, IL.

With a contract award from Fannie Mae, the Vertical Harvest team was able to:

  • Dedicate full-time resources at Vertical Harvest and their partner, National Affordable Housing Trust, to complete the research work.
  • Complete site selection, marketing, financial structuring, and synthesis/compilation of data to determine the feasibility of building a vertical greenhouse in two communities in Chicago.
  • Complete a study that provides a model to develop financial pro forma for vertical greenhouse construction as well as tools for engaging potential investors, political figures, and civic stakeholders.

By the end of the contract with Fannie Mae, Vertical Harvest had identified two properties in Chicago. They also began working on another opportunity to scale their model in Westbrook, Maine, which will produce 50 full-time jobs and 50 housing units.

Vertical Harvest provides consistent, meaningful employment for people with intellectual and physical disabilities by cultivating nutritious food for the community and partners with private investment, public resources, and philanthropy to create positive economic and social impact for communities.

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